Here’s my guide on how to drink absinthe and live to tell the tale.
Absinthe is a beautifully complex spirit with strong flavours of anise supported by herbs like fennel, hyssop, Melissa, and coriander. It has a strong and powerful flavour, and only a wee bit of it is required to be noticed in a cocktail.
Popularly known as the “Green Fairy” or “Green Seductress” because of the ostensible hallucinatory properties, it is one of the most misunderstood spirits. There’s something romantic about this drink — great men like Edgar Degas, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Vincent Van Gogh, and Paul Gauguin, submerged themselves into the mystique of the Green Seductress. And Ernest Hemingway had a cocktail created as a signature drink that paired absinthe with champagne.
Contrary to popular belief you won’t see the green goblin no matter what. Absinthe is indeed, quite palatable if consumed correctly. Here’s how you drink the Green Fairy correctly, and not experience drowsiness or that lingering fire in your throat afterward.
FIRST: In a Cocktail
For the first timers, the best way to figure out if you can stomach the Green Goblin is by drinking it in a cocktail before jumping straight to the traditional approach. You honestly could go for any absinthe cocktail but my personal favourite is the ‘Foaming Fairy’.
- 60 ml Gin
- 15 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 15 ml absinthe
- 1 small egg white
- 4 drops of Bitters
Add the gin, lemon juice, absinthe, and egg white to a cocktail shaker. Cover and vigorously shake the ingredients for about 30 seconds. Uncap the shaker and fill ⅔ with ice and shake again vigorously until frothy. Double strain the cocktail through a wire-mesh and sieve into the chilled cocktail glass. Hold on a moment for the foam to rise, then strategically place 4 drops of bitters in a circle on top.
Second: Cold Water and Syrup
After trying it in a cocktail, if you develop a taste for the Green Seductress then this is how you can make a simple absinthe drink. Take 45 ml of Absinthe, put it in a glass and then slowly pour cold water over it. The absinthe will go from clear to cloudy. Then add a little bit of syrup (one cup white sugar plus one cup of water). Tada, there you go, your drink is prepared.
Third: The Traditional Way
There are two ways to drink absinthe. One is a Simple way and the other the Traditional or the French way. If you opt for the Traditional way, then this is what you are supposed to do:
- Pour the green fairy up to the lowest line of an absinthe glass.
- Place a spoon over the top of the glass.
- Place a small brick of sugar over the spoon.
- Slowly pour cold, distilled water over the sugar just to saturate it. And allow it to set until the sugar cube begins to dissolve.
- Again, slowly pour water over the sugar until the desired dilution is found and the sugar is completely dissolved. The most common ratio is set at three and five parts water to one part absinthe. As the water hits the liquor a white cloudiness, called the louche, will swirl through the liquid, creating quite the spectacle and releasing the absinthe's herbal bouquet.
- After the louche has been allowed to rest, stir in the remaining and undissolved sugar. And your drink is ready! Enjoy.
Fourth: Absinthe Drip
This method is very similar to the Traditional way of drinking absinthe, but ice and club soda are added to soften the drink a bit.
- Pour 60 ml of absinthe into a mixing glass half-filled with crushed ice.
- Place a sugar cube on top of the ice.
- Very slowly drip club soda on the sugar cube until it is completely dissolved.
- Mix well.
- Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
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