During its personal era of prohibition, absinthe was consumed primarily straight up and as a shot. This has led to a majority of individuals regretting the evenings they had consumed the libation. When true absinthe returned to the scene, the populace turned their noses up at the suggestion of sipping on a correctly prepared absinthe drip cocktail.
To combat this, bartenders around the country are attempting to reintroduce the delicate spirit through innovative and appealing cocktails. With its strong aroma profile and ostentatious anise leading the flavors to provoke your palate, it is a challenge to formulate a well-balanced cocktail that will entice the most discriminating of connoisseurs.
Some bars are finding it difficult to add these libations to their menus, as their clientele are not as adventurous — though, there are many establishments making a point of it and having at least one on their normal menu. Others of course, as you will see in one of the examples below, are contributing entire menus to innovative absinthe cocktails.
The ban on absinthe was put into effect in 1912, stating that all food or beverage containing a certain ingredient (thujone) was not allowed. In 1960, a law was changed that the level of thujone could in fact be approximately 10 mg/L. This was not noticed by the liquor industry, as it was a minor change made by a separate industry. In 2007, it was made clear that almost all absinthe fell within these measurements and no laws were necessary to be passed in order to allow absinthe to begin distribution into the USA.
Absinthe, a Resurfacing Star of the Bar
Before we get into the new innovative cocktails being created around the U.S., it may be best to begin with the original classic, the Absinthe Drip Cocktail. If you were drinking absinthe during the late 19th century to early 20th century before its ban, you were almost certainly consuming it in this fashion. The traditional method calls for the use of an absinthe drip fountain, a specifically designed absinthe glass and an absinthe spoon. With these pieces of equipment, the addition of absinthe, and one sugar cube, you will soon be enjoying a soft refreshing absinthe cocktail.
- 1 part absinthe
- 4-5 parts water
- 1 sugar cube
Maison Premiere | Brooklyn | The Great Bambino
Maison Premiere in Brooklyn, New York is one of the leaders in the resurgence of absinthe. Maison Premiere has the largest selection of premium absinthe in New York City, and a dedicated absinthe cocktail menu. This Brooklyn venue has outdone itself in bringing back the old-school feel of high-class hotel lobbies without the hotel prices one would expect. They have even gone as far as installing the most accurately working replica of the Green Fairy Absinthe Fountain originally found in the Olde Absinthe House of New Orleans front-and-center in their bar.
The Great Bambino [video]
- 2 dashes Yuzu Bitters
- ½ vial orange blossom water
- ¼ oz coconut cream
- ½ oz fresh lime juice
- ½ oz honey syrup
- ½ oz Poire-Williams
- ¾ oz pineapple-infused absinthe
Taste by Four Seasons | Chicago | Journey Along the Lake
In the fashion of the above venue, why not mention an actual hotel bar that has bought absinthe onto their menu. Taste offers a menu that has no specific origin but with which they have exceeded patrons expectations. Their absinthe cocktail Journey Along the Lake, has been constructed by the team utilizing what they believe are the best ingredients from around Chicago. They created this libation to bring together what in their mind are the best aspects of Chicago, even adding the egg white is a testament to the foam on the shores of Lake Michigan, on a stormy day.
Journey Along the Lake
- 1½ oz Journeyman White Whiskey
- 1½ oz lime juice
- ¾ oz Jo Snow Cardamom-Rosewater Syrup
- ¾ oz housemade Triple Sec
- 1 dash North Shore absinthe
- 1 egg white
- 1 edible marigold flower, for garnish
Hinoki and the Bird | St. Louis | Griffith Park Swizzle
If you’ve ever wanted to immerse yourself into the Japanese culture but don’t see yourself leaving the country anytime soon, then Hinoki and the Bird is the venue for you. The bar menu is very fruit-forward in the way you would expect it to be in any Japanese restaurant. Though at this venue, they are taking it to a new level. And with a food menu full of bold flavors, they have really had their work cut out for them. If you pay any attention to the reviews, you will agree that they have exceeded expectations with an amazing bar program. So if you find yourself in the neighborhood lusting for absinthe, you should stop in and try their Griffith Park Swizzle.
Griffith Park Swizzle
- 1 sugar cube
- 6 mint leaves
- 2 oz bourbon
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- ¾ oz simple syrup
- 2 dashes Kübler absinthe
- 3 dashes Angostura bitters
- 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- 1 mint sprig, for garnish
Absinthe has always had a taboo identity that’s generated a following, generally making the consumer believe drinking this spirit will get them drunker. In reality, it has been low alcohol absinthe that we were consuming for nearly a century. The hallucinations and deaths linked to absinthe back in 1912 were in fact concocted rumors published by wine producers who also facilitated written articles in local French newspapers. With the popularity of absinthe growing so rapidly, they were spread far and wide and became a reason for consumers to chase the green fairy.
The rumors first aided in the growth of the absinthe industry before governments made production and distribution illegal in 1912. Dubied Père et Fils, the first genuine production facility of absinthe, was founded in Switzerland in 1797. In 1805, the same family opened their second distillery in France under the new name Pernod Fils. When absinthe was banned in France, Pernod decided to produce and release Sans Absinthe, a low alcohol absinthe that was legal to distribute during the ban on real, high-proof absinthe.