If you want to dance with the green fairy, knowing how to drink absinthe and what to mix it with is crucial if you want to avoid a nasty headache – or worse.
While native to Europe, the key ingredient found in absinthe is wormwood, and it grows readily across various climates, including parts of Asia, Africa, South America, and the United States. Wormwood is naturally rich in thujone, a chemical compound believed to trigger inexplicable transformations of the mind.
In the 19th century, absinthe often got the blame for what would now be viewed as outright alcoholism, but was nevertheless linked to bouts of mania, psychosis, violent and erratic behaviour. While the wormwood in the liquor was regarded as a stimulant for some, it also acted as a catalyst for a descent into lunacy for others, and eventually led to bans on absinthe right across Europe.
Although it has never been illegal to import or manufacture in Australia, absinthe importation requires a permit under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulation 1956 due to a restriction on importing any product containing ‘oil of wormwood’. With a range of our very own absinthe products finally produced and distilled right here on Australian shores, it should come as no surprise that the green elixir is gaining attention once more.
HOW TO DRINK ABSINTHE WITH MIXERS
Thanks to its incredibly high alcohol content and potent flavour, absinthe shouldn’t be taken as a standalone shot purely for safety purposes. Thus, consumers need to get an idea as to how the liquor should be consumed, and what works best as a mixer.
If you’re ready to party like it’s 1889, you’re ready to try the original French absinthe fountain. This method requires some special apparatus though, so ensure you have the right type of spoons and sugar cubes before you get started. However, if you’re relatively new to drinking absinthe, then it’s generally wise to start slowly. More often than not, consumers tend to underestimate the alcohol content of absinthe, so ease into it with mixers to ensure the liquor is to your taste.
Death In The Afternoon – Also known as a Hemmingway, this potent bohemian cocktail is two parts champagne and one part absinthe. If you can get the ratios just right and opt for a high quality dry champagne, strap in for quite the afternoon indeed.
Corpse Reviver – Combine 20ml of gin, 20ml triple of sec, 20ml of lemon juice, 20ml of Cocchi Americano (or Lillet Blanc), 5ml of Absinthe, shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. For those who dare, the Corpse Reviver will quite literally bring you back to life.
Absinthe Frappe – For those who aren’t so keen on mixing with other hard liquor, mix 50ml of Pernod Absinthe, two dashes sugar syrup, two dashes of Ricard Pastis and 30ml of water together to create a summer friendly absinthe frappe.
Absinthe Italiano – Allegedly how the Italians did their absinthe, this cocktail uses sambuca to hammer home the traces of anise in the absinthe. Mix 30ml of sambuca, 15ml of Grand Absente and 15ml of maraschino liqueur, before stirring over ice and straining into a cocktail glass.
Monkey Gland – For those that prefer their cocktails on the fruity side, mix 60ml of gin, 60ml of orange juice, 3 dashes of grenadine and 3 dashes of Absinthe Cousin Jeune together in a shaker, before straining into a chilled coupette.
While patrons are welcome to use any absinthe on hand, the above varieties come highly recommended when mixed with each particular alcohol or flavour in the separate cocktails – and this is just the beginning when it comes to cocktail options that feature absinthe. However, like all alcohol, large amounts of absinthe can be physically quite dangerous. Binge drinking absinthe is ill advised, and can lead to alcohol poisoning.
France’s love affair with la fee verte – or the green lady – is one of the primary reasons as to why absinthe grew to such notoriety during the late 19th century. Favoured by artists, writers and bohemians alike, the streets of Paris came alive every evening once the green fairy began to flow freely. Often portrayed – and embraced – as a hallucinogenic, it was banned across much of Europe before experiencing a revival in the western world in the early 1990’s. Even now, absinthe is still that of an urban legend, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be approached with caution.
While nobody can say whether you’ll witness Kylie Minogue appear as the green fairy after a few glasses a la Moulin Rouge! – there’s no denying that the controversy and mystique are all a part of absinthe’s appeal, and the global curiosity doesn’t look to be diminishing anytime soon.