The Sazerac is arguably the quintessential absinthe cocktail despite it only being used in a very small amount.
Thanks to New Orlean’s francophone heritage, it became culturally associated with absinthe and is credited with inventing the Sazerac. This cocktail was served in iconic venues like The Old Absinthe House, which was renamed the Absinthe Room in 1874.
You will need two tumbler glasses to make this cocktail. In the first one, pour in a splash of absinthe and swirl it until it leaves a thin coating inside. In the second glass, stir a double shot of cognac, a few dashes of bitters, and a sugar cube with ice then strain into the first glass.
You’ll need the following ingredients:
- 50 ml (1¾ Oz) Cognac
- 15 ml (½ Oz) Absinthe
- 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
- 1 Lemon Peel
Add the absinthe to a tumbler glass and swirl it around until it leaves an even coating on the interior. Fill the glass with crushed ice and set it aside. Add the cognac and bitters to a second tumbler glass and stir them with ice.
Afterwards, discard the contents from the first glass as you just want the absinthe’s essence. Strain the contents of the second tumbler into the first and add a lemon peel for garnish.
Finally, bear in mind that the Sazerac can also be made with American whiskey. Indeed, when cognac was scarce during the French Phylloxera outbreak, rye was a common substitute.
2. Corpse Reviver N°2
The ominously named Corpse Revivers were first created as hangover cures. Corpse Revivers have been around since the mid 19th century and offer a boozy experience, to say the least. The number 2 version described here is generally the most popular version.
You will need the following ingredients in equal 30 ml (1 Oz) measures unless stated otherwise:
Shake all of the ingredients together with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with an orange peel.
As a side note, Lilet Blanc is often used as the quinquina. However, it was reformulated and is far sweeter as it contains less quinine than before. If you’re looking to make an authentic Corpse Reviver N°2, we suggest opting for some of the alternatives we list in our guide to the best quinquina.
3. Death In The Afternoon
Also referred to as the “Hemingway” or “Hemingway Champagne”, it was concocted by the author himself and named after his 1932 novel. To enjoy his iconic cocktail, simply pour 1 part absinthe into a coupe glass and top it up with four parts champagne!
Alternatively, you can follow Hemingway’s original instructions for a more authentic experience:
“Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”
4. McKinley’s Delight
McKinley’s Delight is another fantastic historical cocktail that was created in 1896 to celebrate the 25th president’s election. Although not as well known as the above cocktails, it’s definitely a classic and certainly worth sampling.
It requires the following ingredients:
Combine all of the ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail or coupe glass. Traditionally, it doesn’t use any garnish but if you fancy something, consider a maraschino cherry.
5. La Louisiane
Another classic, this one was the house cocktail of Restaurant La Louisiane in New Orleans during the late-19th century. It’s somewhat related to the Sazerac and the Manhattan but goes in its own direction.
It’s relatively simple and just needs the following ingredients to make it:
- 60 ml (2 Oz) Rye Whiskey
- 30 ml (1 Oz) Sweet Vermouth
- 30 ml (1 Oz) Benedictine
- 1 Tsp Absinthe
- 3 Dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
- Maraschino Cherries
The La Louisiane cocktail is made like a Sazerac in which the ingredients are all stirred in a glass with ice. However, this time the absinthe is mixed with the ingredients rather than used to rinse the serving glass. Once cold, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the cherries.
6. Last Resort
The absinthe cocktails that follow will be more modern concoctions. Nevertheless, some do riff on celebrated classics as we will explain. The Last Resort, for instance, is inspired by the Brandy Sour and was created by New York’s Employees Only founder, Dushan Zarić.
Here’s what you need to make it:
- 60 ml (2 Oz) Pear Eau-de-Vie
- 22.5 ml (¾ Oz) Lime Juice
- 22.5 (¾ Oz) Simple Syrup
- 7.5 ml (¼ Oz) Absinthe
- 1 Egg White
- Peychaud’s Bitters
Firstly, check the egg is fresh enough. You can do this by placing it in a bowl of water. If it doesn’t float, it should be good. Meanwhile, add the absinthe to a coupe glass and swirl it around so it evenly coats the inside. Discard any excess absinthe.
Crack the egg and pour the white into a shaker. Add the eau-de-vie (or German schnaps), simple syrup, and lime juice and dry shake vigorously without ice.
Once the egg has properly emulsified, add ice to the shaker and shake again until well-chilled. Double strain into the coupe glass and garnish with grated nutmeg as well as a few dashes of Peychaud’s bitters.
7. La Tour Eiffel
A relatively recent creation by the late cocktail legend, Gary Regan, the La Tour Eiffel is a riff on the Sazerac if it had been invented in France. Although it uses the Sazerac as the foundation, the result is a much more complex and fascinating mixture.
- 75 ml (2½ Oz) Cognac
- 15 ml (½ Oz) Cointreau
- 15 ml (½ Oz) Suze
- 7.5 ml (¼ Oz) Absinthe
- 1 Lemon Peel
Rinse a champagne flute or coupe glass with the absinthe and fill it with ice so it chills. Combine the other ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice. Discard the ice and absinthe from the previous glass and strain the mixed ingredients into it. Garnish with a lemon twist.
8. Absinthe Frappé
Now here’s a nice and easy yet refreshing cocktail that’s worth trying out. It’s incredibly simple and requires just the following ingredients:
- 30 ml (1 Oz) Absinthe
- 7.5 ml (¼ Oz) Ouzo, Sambuca, or other anisette
- Mint Sprig
Add the two ingredients into a shaker and fill with ice. You can forego the anisette and just add more absinthe. However, this will render the drink more refreshing, especially on a hot day.
Shake vigorously until well-chilled and strain into a tall glass. Fill it with crushed ice a garnish it with a mint sprig. Give it a couple of minutes so the ice starts to melt and it’ll be perfect. If you find it too sweet, consider a dash of bitters to add some body.
9. Green Beast
While most absinthe cocktails just use a drop to rinse the glass so it acts like a taste modifier, this cocktail brings it front and centre to make a very refreshing punch. Consider serving it in a pitcher for guests to enjoy.
While an absinthe punch sounds dangerous, bear in mind that it’s no stronger than most alcoholic spirits. Think of this as the herbal equivalent of a mojito.
You’ll need the following to make it:
- 30 ml (1 Oz) Absinthe
- 30 ml (1 Oz) Lime Juice
- 30 ml (1 Oz) Simple Syrup
- 120 ml (4 Oz) Cold Water
Take three slices of cucumber per serving and muddle them into a pitcher or Highball glass if just making one. Add the absinthe, lime juice, and ice before topping up with water. Garnish with a few more cucumber slices.
Bartender Mayur Subbarao created this riff on the aforementioned Corpse Reviver N°2, which offers you a more contemporary alternative to the classic cocktail. On this occasion, it places greater emphasis on the absinthe.
It just needs the following ingredients:
- 22.5 (¾ Oz) Absinthe
- 22.5 (¾ Oz) Elderflower Liqueur
- 22.5 (¾ Oz) Lillet Blanc
- 1 Dash Gin
- 22.5 (¾ Oz) Lemon Juice
- Lemon Twist
Shake all of the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Now that you have read about the best absinthe cocktails, learn more about the mysterious green fairy with Bespoke Unit: