Category Archives: absinthe

Duchess

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This cocktail is old school, with roots back to 1930 in the Savoy Cocktail Book.¬†It’s also potent and a bit sharp tasting, too, probably a result of all those pungent mixture of herbs in both the vermouth and absinthe. Now that I’ve made it and tried it, I¬†think the Duchess¬†would benefit from a more sweet dry vermouth, like Vya Whisper Dry or Contratto Bianco, as regular dry vermouth felt like it contrasted with the absinthe.

Give this 85-year-old cocktail a try and let me know what you think:

Duchess

  • 1 oz absinthe
  • 1 oz dry vermouth
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a lemon twist

Trinity Absinthe

trinity absinthe

Trinity Absinthe Superieure is distilled in Loveland, Colorado by¬†Overland Distillery. As a southwesterner, I’ve been pretty proud of the liquors we’re producing in New Mexico and Colorado, and have found many of them to be excellent.

Trinity arrives in a 375 ml bottle for about $40, which is a pretty typical price range for Absinthe as it runs 60% ABV and above. This absinthe surprised me in that it pours a more pale yellow color as opposed to the traditional green. I drank this the usual way: 1 oz of absinthe in a glass topped with very cold water poured slowly over a sugar cube. As you can see in the photo above, Trinity clouded up nicely (called the “louche“).

I think I may have discovered the source of that yellow color. Trinity has a cool lemony citrus flavor that causes it to drink exceptionally easy, which is a good thing as some brands of absinthe can be overwhelming on the tongue. I like the anise-licorice bite of absinthe, but the touch of citrus in Trinity adds a nice flavor balance that I like.

Trinity is an absinthe that’s worthwhile and a really enjoyable addition to a connoisseur’s collection. While it’s a craft absinthe, it’s a bit easier to find than some others, and their distribution is currently in 6 states in a pretty wide spread across the country. If you’re a fan of absinthe, track some down and give it a try.

T.N.T.

tnt cocktail

I was browsing Mr. Boston’s Cocktail book recently, and discovered a cocktail I’d never heard of. This drink ends up a cool, bright yellow because of the mixture of the two ingredients. This is a potent drink – it clocks in at a meager 2 oz – and it’s a great excuse to use you old-timey cocktail coupes:

TNT Cocktail

  • 1 oz absinthe
  • 1 oz whiskey
  • stir with ice and strain into a small, chilled cocktail glass

Devil’s Snare Cocktail

devils snare cocktail

“Stop moving! I know what this is ‚ÄĒ it’s Devil’s Snare!”

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you this year’s Halloween cocktail: a Devil’s Snare. Green and wicked just like the¬†fictional¬†plants¬†themselves, this cocktail is not for those who are easily frightened!

…or for those who hate licorice flavor.

One thing that makes the presentation so cool with this drink is you get to make your own Halloween sugar using Angostura bitters. White sugar and several dashes of Angostura makes for the perfect orange sugar rim.

orange rimming sugar

Devil’s Snare (by Greg Mays)

  • 1 1/5 oz Agwa de Bolivia
  • 1 oz Absinthe
  • shake on ice,
  • strain into a chilled cocktail glass¬†rimmed with orange sugar

Sebor Absinth

sebor absinthe

A friend recently gave me a bottle he bought abroad of Sebor Absinth, which is a Czech version of the green fairy. From what I can tell, Sebor is not available in the U.S., though it can be ordered at The Spirit Cellar for £31.95.

Absinthe is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of drink, and some are enamored with with licorice bite while others detest it. I’m no aficanado, but I found Sebor to taste just fine, plus the slightly lower alcohol (55% vs some absinthe which tops 70%) means you can just serve it on the rocks if you like, or use it as a cocktail ingredient without usual risk of it dominating the whole drink.

I wanted to create a summer absinthe sipper with Sebor, much like the¬†Death in The Afternoon cocktail, Ernest Hemingway’s absinthe/champagne coma recipe. The absinthe and a sweet, citrusy white vermouth are a good combination:

Wisp of Evil (by Greg Mays)

  • in a glass full of ice, add:
  • 1 1/2 oz absinthe
  • 1 1/2 oz Vya Whisper Dry vermouth (Lillet Blanc would also be a good choice)
  • 3 oz club soda
  • no garnish, serve with a sip straw

 

KGB Naranjo, Bourbon, and Absinthe

KGB Naranjo, Bourbon, and Absinthe

KGB Spirits in northern New Mexico has some new releases in their spirits catalog: Naranjo Orange Liqueur, Taos Lightning Bourbon, and Brimstone Absinthe.

Naranjo is a high proof orange liqueur, 45% ABV where most other triple secs are only about 20%. This means it’s not too sweet and Naranjo works well straight up, as a digestif. Naranjo’s orange flavor is very subtle, though, and you should think twice if you’re considering dumping this into a pitcher of margaritas. The color is pale orange, and the scent of citrus is very muted, but it’s all there on your taste buds.

Taos Lightning Bourbon shares it’s name with KGB’s Ryes-a historical throwback to 1800’s western whiskeys-and it’s sweet, spicy, and smooth. I found myself thinking about it all day after tasting it. Taos Lightning Bourbon is very balanced in it’s flavor, and the expected toasted-wood spice finishes it off.

Finally, Brimstone Absinthe has two unique qualities: first, KGB uses a potato base in their distilling process – just like their vodka and gin, which adds a minty, earthy flavor. Second, Brimstone is bottled at a pretty low proof, the lowest proof I’ve ever seen for an absinthe. Absinthe is typically known for it’s high (60-70%) proof, but Brimstone is a mellow 45%. Because of this, you can actually drink Brimstone on the rocks with no water or sugar added. The lower proof makes it a more viable cocktail ingredient, too.

KGB Spirits are available at retail shops around New Mexico.

Absinthe Cocktails

tenneyson absinthe

Absinthe, a high-proof herbal liquor, is most traditionally served straight under a water drip with a perched sugar cube. Because of absinthe’s strong anise (black licorice) flavor, cocktails featuring it are few and far between.

I decided to use Austin-based and French-distilled Tenneyson Absinthe Royale to make these cocktails. Tenneyson is a bit more mild than other absinthes (Lucid comes to mind) because it’s bottled at a lower proof (53% alcohol vs. Lucid’s 64%) and because the typical anise flavor is less pronounced in the taste. Here are the 2 simple absinthe cocktails I made, with a bonus recipe at the end:

Sazerac
This recipe can seem overwhelming, but the detail is actually in the ritual of preparation, which most consider essential to making a proper Sazerac.

  • fill an old fashioned glass with ice water to chill
  • in another old fashioned glass, muddle 1 sugar cube and 3 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
  • add 2 oz rye whiskey
  • top with ice and stir
  • empty the ice water from the first glass
  • splash in absinthe, rinse the glass with it, pour out the excess (I found Tenneyson to be mild enough that I just left the “splash” in the glass)
  • strain the sugar/bitters/rye mixture into the absinthe-washed glass
  • twist and squeeze a lemon peel into the glass
  • either discard the lemon peel or drop it into the cocktail, according to your preference

Obituary (the Absinthe Martini)
Tenneyson is especially great in this drink as the presentation is crystal-clear.

  • 2 1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • 1/4 oz absinthe
  • stir over ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with lemon twist

Bonus recipe: Death in the Afternoon
This recipe was created by Ernest Hemingway.

  • pour 1 oz absinthe in a champagne flute
  • top with 5 ounces chilled champagne
  • drink 3 to 5 of these slowly

Absinthe

Absinthe service

Absinthe was illegal throughout most of the world for the past 100 years, including the United States, because it was rumored that its primary ingredient, Grande Wormwood, caused insanity.  This turned out not to be true, and since  2007 (when the ban was lifted), several brands have been introduced in the U.S., spearheaded by Lucid Absinthe Superieure.

While absinthe can be used in cocktails like the Sazerac or Death in the Afternoon, it is normally just taken with cold water, poured through and absinthe spoon with a sugar cube on it. ¬†I personally love absinthe, certainly because of its sordid history, but also because I like the dry, herbal, anise (black licorice) flavor. ¬†Recommended ratios are 1 oz absinthe to 3-5 oz of water, as mixing with water is essential because of the high alcohol content absinthe has, which is ¬†usually 65-75% ABV (nearly double the ABV of vodka). ¬†Without the water, your tongue will numb and you won’t be able to enjoy the flavor.

Together with Lucid, I tried 3 new types of absinthe from Viridian Spirits and Jade Liqueurs: C.F. Berger, Jade 1901, and Espirit Edouard, all of which are recreations of 100-year-old recipes.  These will be available in the U.S. in limited quantities for an MSRP of $110 per bottle, and are distilled in France, like Lucid.

Viridian Spirits Absinthes

Every one of these three limited edition absinthes is outstanding, and it is difficult to choose a favorite. Any one in particular did not stand out more than another, but the three of them are all excellent and flavorful, and any would be a worthy addition to any absinthe-lover’s collection.

Special thanks to KegWorks for the Absinthe Accessories Starter Kit used in this review.  Buy yours here.