The New
Absinthe

You may have heard about the hallucinogenic absinthe of the Van Gogh era, often called the "green fairy" because it supposedly made people see things that weren't actually there. Because of its mind-altering effects, this spirit of lore was banned in the early 1900s worldwide. Absinthe has, however, reincarnated itself as a new and highly sought spirit in the cocktail world. It no longer contains the ingredient that made people hallucinate and has become a premium alcohol in the current cocktail craze. Here's what you need to know about absinthe along with a few sip-sational absinthe cocktails.

Absinthe

What exactly is Absinthe?

Absinthe is a highly alcoholic spirit made from various herbs with a natural green color (hence the moniker "green fairy"). It has the distinct taste of anise (licorice) and is classically served diluted with water and a sugar cube.

In the 1800 and 1900s, absinthe was made with an additive called wormwood which was what caused it to be a hallucinogenic; today's absinthe no longer contains wormwood. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, many European countries began legalizing the production and sale of absinthe and the United States followed suit in 2007.

Currently, absinthe is part of the worldwide cocktail boom, especially because old-style and Prohibition Era cocktails are wildly en vogue.

Mixed drinks with absinthe

Absinthe can be mixed with other spirits or flavors like Champagne, vodka, elderflower, grapefruit juice or ginger, among many other combinations. When preparing an absinthe cocktail, remember that it has an incredibly strong anise flavor, so mix accordingly.

A classic way to serve absinthe

To serve absinthe authentically, you will need a traditional absinthe spoon, cold water, a sugar cube, and of course a glass filled with absinthe. To serve you simply rest the spoon on the glass of absinthe, place the sugar cube on the spoon and drip the cold water over the sugar cube so that the water melts the sugar and it flows into the absinthe, making it cloudy and slightly diluted.

Acquiring absinthe

Nowadays absinthe is readily available at well stocked liquor stores and online. However, you can't have absinthe shipped in from outside the United States so look for a reputable American supplier.

Absinthe cocktail Recipes

Absinthe and Bitters

Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients:
1-1/2 ounces absinthe
1-1/2 ounces water
1 teaspoon simple syrup
1 teaspoon Angostura Bitters
1 teaspoon orange bitters
Orange slice to garnish

Directions:
Combine absinthe, water, simple syrup and bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into an absinthe glass. Garnish with the orange slice.

Hemingway's Absinthe

Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients:
1-1/2 ounces absinthe
6 ounces Champagne

Directions:
Pour absinthe in a Champagne flute and top with Champagne.

Absinthe Alibi

Recipe courtesy of the Gerber Group

Ingredients:
5 fresh mint leaves
1 ounce vodka
1 ounce ginger liqueur
1/2 ounce absinthe
2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Twist of fresh grapefruit peel

Directions:
1. Place mint in the bottom of a tall serving glass and lightly bruise the mint with a muddler but do not smash. Fill this glass with ice.

2. In a shaker, shake remaining ingredients, except grapefruit peel, and strain into the serving glass. Garnish with grapefruit peel.

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