Famously enjoyed by icons such as Picasso, Hemingway, Wilde, and Van Gogh, aromatic and herbaceous absinthe will transport you back to 20th century Paris.  

History of Absinthe

Originally used as a malaria preventive for French soldiers, absinthe quickly gained popularity throughout France in the late 19th century as an alcoholic drink. It was served in cafes and bars throughout Europe and in parts of the United States and was enjoyed by all social classes. At its peak, absinthe was so widely consumed that 5 PM in France was known as l’heure verte or “the green hour”. 

Absinthe was banned in the United States in 1912 because it was believed to have hallucinogenic properties. The ban was lifted in 2007, and the drink is gaining a second wave of popularity in the 21st century.


Absinthe is aromatic and herbaceous with overtones of anise and fennel. These flavors are punctuated with a sharp bitterness characteristic of high proof alcohol. 

How to Drink Absinthe

To perform La Louche, the traditional absinthe ritual, a slotted spoon with a cube of sugar is placed over a glass of absinthe. Cold water is dripped over it, transforming the absinthe to an opaque milky green. This slow and purposeful ritual dilutes and sweetens the absinthe (which is generally too strong to be consumed straight) while creating a visually appealing spectacle for the drinker to enjoy.

Image Credit: Flickr user PeterThoeny ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

Cocktails with Absinthe

Besides the absinthe ritual, you can also enjoy absinthe in cocktails and mixed drinks. Two of the oldest beverage recipes involving absinthe are absinthe frappe, a simple mix of absinthe, ice, and simple syrup, and Sazerac, a classic New Orleans cocktail made from absinthe, rye whiskey, sugar, and bitters.

Cooking with Absinthe

Absinthe can also be incorporated in a variety of savory and sweet dishes. In fact, the original recipe for oysters Rockefeller used absinthe as the alcohol of choice. Elevate meat and seafood dishes, particularly European ones, with a dash of absinthe for added depth and a hint of warming anise. Apply the same concept for dessert by adding a couple of tablespoons of absinthe to your cake batter. Its flavor pairs particularly well with chocolate.

Image Credit: Flickr user OzchinCC BY-SA 2.0 )

Feature Image: Flickr user NH53 ( CC BY 2.0 )

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