Ah, absinthe: It’s not evil, just misunderstood. Prior to the United States lifting the ban on the maligned spirit in 2007, absinthe—commonly referred to as the green fairy or la fée verte, in French—was plagued with misconceptions. Hallucinations! Violence! Madness! None of it based on evidence, of course. Sure, absinthe tends to be bottled at impressively high proofs (110 to 145), but it won't incite bad behavior more or less than any other spirit.
Shady reputation notwithstanding, the spirit is known for its complex, intense flavor that begs to be added to cocktails. A little goes a long way, as exemplified by the countless drinks that call for a mere rinse. But a more generous dose can be magical, too. What's certain is that you don't have to be a tortured artist to fall in love with absinthe. These nine cocktails show the green fairy's versatility and its undeniable romantic appeal.
Death in the Afternoon
Let’s start simple. This nearly effortless drink contains only two ingredients: absinthe and Champagne. Mix the two together in a Champagne flute, and you’re ready to get your Hemingway on. Speaking of Papa, did you know that he allegedly created this cocktail himself?
The Original Sazerac
Yes, absinthe is a key ingredient to making a respectable Sazerac. But were you aware that rye whiskey wasn’t originally in the recipe? The earliest ingredient list for this cocktail instead named cognac as its main spirit. The drink switched gears to rye during a shortage of cognac production during the late 19th century. The modern Sazerac is a thing of beauty; the original is hauntingly refined.
Absinthe isn’t the first spirit that pops to mind when thinking of summery drinks, but the Green Beast is here to change your point of view. A combination of lime juice, sugar, water and absinthe, this cocktail may be optimal if you’re looking for something new to sip on while lounging in the sun. Planning a party? The recipe is easily converted into a punch.
La Tour Eiffel
This cognac cocktail created by renowned bartender Gary Regan is France in a glass. Pairing absinthe, a French favorite, with French-made spirits and liqueurs like Suze, Cointreau and cognac, this spirit-heavy cocktail is served in a Champagne flute to maximize French sophistication. Make yourself one, then pretend you’re in a Parisian café. If you’re into that kind of thing, of course.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
The Sun Also Rises
Is the Death in the Afternoon not enough to satisfy your Hemingway fix? Named after the writer’s first novel, this five-ingredient cocktail marries two types of citrus, two types of spirits and absinthe to achieve a complexity that any Hemingway—or cocktail—admirer would enjoy.
With ingredients like elderflower liqueur, Lillet Blanc and lemon juice, it’s unclear how this light and floral drink got such a dark name. If you ask us, the addition of absinthe must have had an influence. In any case, drink it to your health whenever you feel like raising yourself from the dead.
Stars & Stripes
At first glance, you wouldn't guess there was absinthe lurking in this cheerfully layered glass of blueberry vodka, simple syrup, lemon juice, raspberry brandy and ginger beer. And with such a patriotic moniker, this is the gateway cocktail you can break out at your next summer barbecue.
This sophisticated blend of absinthe, French pear brandy, lime juice, rich simple syrup and an egg white gets topped with a fresh grating of nutmeg for a frothy, fragrant sipper. Because if you're going to drink la fée verte, why not double down on the French elegance?Continue to 9 of 9 below.
If the smell of anise drives you wild, this is the cocktail to make. A take on a cobbler, the Absinthe Frappé combines absinthe and anisette. It’s a great sipper for anyone wanting to branch out from the traditional absinthe drip. If you have too many drinks one fateful night, the Absinthe Frappé is also a great hangover cure. If you really need to wake yourself up, try a frozen variation.