Absinthe has the reputation as a super strong spirit that drives people crazy. After all Van Gough cut his ear off after an absinthe binge, didn’t he? (no he didn’t). The story of absinthe is actually quite interesting – but I digress.
The Green Fairy actually offers a fantastic depth of flavour and makes a surprisingly sophisticated long drink.
And if you have a bottle of the green stuff on your drinks shelf, maybe you’ve never thought to make a cocktail with it. Well, you might be missing out.
There are plenty of great absinthe cocktails and we’re gonna highlight some of the best ones for you here.
What is absinthe made from?
Absinthe is a spirit with a mixture of botanicals which will include wormwood, fennel and anise. Because wormwood has hallucinogenic properties when heavily consumed, absinthe is often associated with mind bending qualities. But in all honesty you’re not gonna get trippy with absinthe.
The high alcohol content is the most likely source of your mind getting altered by absinthe. In fact, absinthe can be anything from 45% to 70% ABV. But we’re here to look at sophisticated ways to enjoy absinthe, and that means cocktails.
OK – so, what are the best absinthe cocktails you need to try?
1. Corpse Reviver number 2
This sophisticated absinthe cocktail is supposed to be a pick me up or hair of the dog style cocktail. But it has a zesty freshness with that subtle dash of absinthe which is very moreish. Next time you’re at your favorite cocktail bar, ask for one of these.
- 25 ml gin
- 25 ml Lillet blanc or white vermouth
- 25 ml triple sec or other orange liqueur (Cointreu)
- 25 ml lemon juice
- 1 tsp of absinthe
- Twist of lemon peel
Put the gin, lemon juice, vermouth and triple sec in a cocktail shaker, fill with ice and mix vigorously. Strain into a martini glass and add the dash of absinthe and top with a twist of lemon peel.
Like many absinthe cocktails, the Green Fairy drink here is used to impart it’s subtle flavour to this mixed drink rather than as a major element. But it definitely adds a deep aniseed element to this elegant and popular manly cocktail.
- 1 tsp absinthe
- 50 ml bourbon or rye based whisky
- dash of Angostura bitters
- 25 ml sugar syrup or half tsp of dissolved sugar
Take a tumbler or old fashioned glass and gently swill the absinthe to coat the glass.
In another glass, or cocktail mixed, add the sugar syrup, bitters and the double shot of whisky then top with ice and a dash of ice cold water. Stir gently for a few minutes to chill and mix.
Strain into the absinthe coated glass and top with a twist of orange peel.
3. Death in the Afternoon
Champagne or prosecco not punchy enough for you? This cocktail invented by none other than Ernest Hemingway is guaranteed to turbo charge that cocktail party. It’s also a super easy absinthe cocktail to make, with just 3 ingredients.
- 25 ml absinthe
- 25 sugar syrup*
- 100 ml champagne or prosecco
Pour absinthe and sugar syrup into a martini cocktail glass, stir and top with champagne. Easy and delicious!
*Purists can even choose to skip the sugar…
4. Absinthe Suissesse
If you’re a fan of white Russians, or a good sour drink, this will be right up your street. This creamy absinthe based cocktail goes down smooth and makes for a good breakfast cocktail (apparently).
- 50 ml absinthe
- 25 ml orgeat (almond) liqueur syrup
- 1 egg white (or for vegan, use 25 ml of aquafaba or canned chickpea juice)
- 100 ml of cream of full fat milk
- A dash of orange bitters or orange water
- Crushed ice to serve
Add all the ingredients, except the milk/cream, to a cocktail shaker and add a single ice cube. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds to emulsify the drink. Open the shaker and add the milk/cream and then top with ice and shake again for 10-20 seconds to chill.
Strain into a lowball tumbler.
Tip: You can also mix this cocktail in a blender with crushed ice for a smoothie style variation to this absinthe cocktail.
5. Absinthe frappe
Think of this like an absinthe mojito, or absinthe daiquiri. Its just as cool and refreshing…
- 50 ml absinthe
- 25 ml sugar syrup
- Crushed ice
- Mint to serve
Shake absinthe and sugar syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Take a highball glass and strain the cocktail mix into the glass. Top with more crushed ice and top with a sprig of mint.
6. The Green beast
A fresh tasting burst of lime and cucumber makes this a seriously moreish absinthe based cocktail…
- 30 ml absinthe
- 15 ml sugar syrup, or tsp of sugar
- 30 ml lime juice
- 2-3 slices of cucumber plus one to garnish
- 50-60ml Chilled water (to taste)
Muddle the cucumber in a cocktail shaker. Add remaining ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a highball glass filled with cubed ice, and decorate with a cucumber slice.
If you’ve enjoyed our absinthe based cocktail list, be sure to check out our list of manly cocktails too! And if you don’t already, pick up a copy of Difford’s guide, the definitive guide to bar quality drink making.