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Absinthe Service and Cocktails

Oxygénée's Guide to the Absinthe Ritual and its Antiques

Absinthe Drip (the traditional 'French absinthe ritual')

Pour a large shot (1.5 oz/4-5cl) of absinthe into a tall glass. Place a slotted absinthe spoon over the glass and place a cube of sugar on the spoon. Slowly drip ice cold water through the sugar into the absinthe, until it is diluted by 3 to 5 times the amount of the shot and turns completely cloudy. Adjust to your personal taste. By the end of the 19th century, hundreds of styles of absinthe spoons were designed to compliment the performance of this 'ritual', which for some purists could take 20 minutes to complete!
A dripper glass can be used, into which ice is added to the top half and then filled with water - it then drips through a small hole into the absinthe in the glass. This was Ernest Hemingway's favorite absinthe-preparing device.
Absinthe Service and Cocktails

New Orleans is said by some to be the birthplace of the cocktail (tonic drinks were served out of a French egg-cup called a 'coquetier' - which when incorrectly pronounced became 'cocktail' ) and not surprisingly, some of the best absinthe cocktails come from this city. This drink is considered by some as the first 'cocktail' ever invented; it was created by a New Orleans pharmacy in the early 19th century to ward off tropical malaise!

- 1.5 ounces absinthe
- 2 ounces Cognac Sazerac-de-Forge (now sadly extinct!) - you will need another cognac. Rye whisky became a popular substitute and is mistakenly considered a part of the original recipe.
- 3 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Shake with ice and strain into an old-fashion glass (or an egg-cup), garnish with lemon peel.

Absinthe Suissesse

This cocktail is a staple at The Old Absinthe House in New Orleans (where the anisette is now substituted for absinthe) - it's simple to make and ideal for a hot summer's day.
There are now many variations of this drink. It is also one of the finest 'morning after' remedies you will ever taste.

- 1½ ounces (40 ml) absinthe
- ½ ounce (15 ml) orgeat syrup
- 1 egg white
- ½ ounce (15 ml) single cream
- 4 ounces (120 g) shaved ice

Combine all ingredients in a blender, blend for 5 seconds and serve in a chilled cocktail glass.


The original cocktail (or fear-preventative) was created during World War I and named after the French 75mm artillery cannon. In the 1920's, the recipe was modified into the 'French 75' - something completely different, and without absinthe, by Harry's American Bar in Paris.

- 1 teaspoonful of absinthe
- 2/3 ounce Calvados (French apple brandy)
- 1/3 ounce gin

Shake with ice and strain into canteen.

Ernest Hemingway's 'Death in the Afternoon Cocktail'

A recipe verified in a circa 1935 humoristic celebrities' cocktail book titled
'So Red the Nose: or, Breath in the Afternoon' edited by the famous journalist and author Sterling North. Although it appears that Hemingway actually contributed this recipe to the work, it seems highly unlikely that he would have drunk such a drink if given a choice. In most cases the mixture ruins both ingredients, which would have annoyed him. A lighter absinthe blanche is best, such as the Pernot distillery's Un Emile Blanche or White Fairy.

- 1 jigger of absinthe added to a champagne flute

Fill flute slowly with well-chilled champagne (in honor of the novel it was named after, why not use a Spanish Cava instead?)

Tremblement de Terre (Earthquake)

Created by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (and possibly drunk only by him, as this drink really stunts your growth) - an extraordinarily strong mix that can also ruin both ingredients. Try a lower alcohol absinthe such as François Guy, White Fairy or a Swiss.

- half absinthe
- half cognac (don't use the Louis XIII - in fact a rustic Armagnac is a better choice)

Dose both half volumes according to mood and combine in a brandy snifter. Swirl well to avoid eye-tearing. An ice cube and a splash of water will be a welcome addition.

Absinthe Martini - European style

If you order a "Martini" in Europe, you will be served a Martini & Rossi red vermouth on the rocks - this aperitif has existed since long before the 'classic' gin + dash of white vermouth + olive = Martini was invented. In most cases, if you want a 'dry gin Martini' in Europe, you will have to teach the bartender how to make it.
The mixture below was created around the beginning of the 20th century, when it became fashionable in France to drink 'American-style' cocktails.

- 1.5 ounces Martini red vermouth
- 1 dash absinthe
- 1 dash orange bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Absinthe Frappé

The most famous of all American absinthe preparations.
A song named after it and about it, from the 1904 Broadway operetta 'It Happened In Nordland' written by the renowned Victor Herbert, was so scandalously popular that it helped to instigate absinthe's demise in the Unitied States! For the lyrics to this song, scroll to Glenn MacDonough 1867-1924, who wrote the words to the music.

Pour a large shot of absinthe into a tall glass containing plenty of crushed ice, top up with ice water and shake or add sparkling water. A spoonful of sugar or simple syrup* can be added to taste.
Frappé (pronounced 'frap-ay') can have two meanings: in France, it is 'to serve ice cold' and in the USA, to serve shaken with ice or partially frozen.

*Simple syrup: Boil a pot of water, take it off the heat and stir in one pound of sugar to each half pint of water until completely dissolved. When cooled, pour into bottles for keeping. Simple syrup can be easily used as a substitute for granulated sugar or cubes.