6 Absinthe Cocktails You Need to Try

Absinthe is a spirit with a storied past. Although banned in the United States for nearly 100 years, its reputation as the hallucination-inducing “green fairy” is somewhat unfounded. It’s more likely that famous absinthe-imbibing creatives like Pablo Picasso and Edgar Allen Poe were just realllllllly drunk.

One of absinthe’s primary botanicals is wormwood, which does contain thujone, a toxic chemical compound that can potentially cause hallucinations (in addition to other unpleasant side effects, like death). However, the quantity of thujone present in distilled absinthe is (and was) minimal, and would not likely have caused any psychoactive effects.

Absinthe: a high proof herbal spirit

Instead, it’s absinthe’s very high alcohol content (usually between 55-70%+ ABV) that was likely the cause of absinthe drinkers’ wild experiences. Remember, your average bottle of vodka clocks in at around 40% alcohol by volume. This means that some absinthes are nearly twice as strong.

So, long story short – you don’t need to worry about hallucinations when it comes to drinking absinthe in 2020. But you do need to keep its high alcohol by volume in mind when mixing, and drink it responsibly. Duh.

Absinthe cocktail recipes range from classics like the Corpse Reviver No.2, which features only a whisper of absinthe flavor from rinsing the inside of the glass, to bold modern recipes like my Fairy Godmother, which mix a full ounce of absinthe with pineapple juice and elderflower liqueur. If you’re new to absinthe and not sure where to start, begin with absinthe-rinsed cocktails and work you way into recipes featuring heavier pours.

The potency of these cocktails varies, but generally speaking, they’re about as strong as your average cocktail. The exception here might be Death in the Afternoon, a simple but powerful blend of chilled absinthe and champagne.

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Absinthe Suissesse

The Absinthe Suissesse is a sweet and creamy cocktail that combines a hefty dose of absinthe with almond syrup, cream, and a touch of floral orange blossom water. The Absinthe Suissesse is a classic New Orleans brunch cocktail (like the Absinthe Frappe). An egg white adds body and a rich foam to this classic.

  • Absinthe
  • Cream
  • Orgeat
  • Egg white
  • Orange blossom water
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Chrysanthemum

The Chrysanthemum is a classic cocktail that first appeared in the 1916 bar book Recipes for Mixed Drinks by Hugo Ensslin. This low ABV mix of dry vermouth, the herbal liqueur Benedictine, and a splash of absinthe is complex, unusual, and highly sippable. The Chrysanthemum is made with:

  • Benedictine
  • Dry vermouth
  • Absinthe
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Death in the Afternoon

Famed author Ernest Hemingway is said to have created this powerful cocktail and named it after one of his novels. Hemingway’s instructions for this cocktail included consuming three to five of them slowly, but given the high alcohol content, I’d recommend enjoying just one at a time! Death in the Afternoon is made with:

  • Chilled absinthe
  • Chilled champagne
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French Velvet

French Velvet is a cocktail I created after trying a Flying Frenchman, which is an Espresso Martini made with absinthe instead of vodka. Coffee and anise are a great combination, but chocolate and anise are even better, so I added a half ounce of rich, dark chocolate Bouvery chocolate liqueur. This velvety smooth drink is boozy, sweet, and caffeinated – the perfect Friday cocktail! The French Velvet is made with:

  •  Absinthe
  •  Coffee liqueur
  •  Espresso
  •  Bouvery CV Chocolate Liqueur
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Necromancer

The Necromancer is a contemporary cocktail combining equal parts absinthe, Lillet Blanc, lemon juice and elderflower liqueur with a dash of gin. This variation on the classic Corpse Reviver No.2 reverses the ratios of absinthe and gin and sweetens with elderflower instead of orange liqueur. The result is an absinthe forward sip that’s well-balanced with bright citrus and sweet floral notes. The Necromancer was invented by NYC bartender Mayur Subbarao and is made with:

  • Absinthe
  • Lillet Blanc
  • Elderflower liqueur
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Gin
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Bluebirds in Barbados

This recipe is my variation on a cocktail called BlueBird No.2 by Canadian bartender Chad Coombs. All of Chad’s cocktail recipes are incredibly unique, delicious and inspiring. I highly recommend checking out his Instagram @coqtale! Perhaps one of the most interesting absinthe cocktails I’ve had to date, this tropical drink plays on the perfect flavor pairing of anise (from the absinthe) and pineapple. Bluebirds in Barbados is made with:

  • Absinthe
  • Luxardo Bitter Bianco
  • Blue curacao
  • Lime juice
  • Pineapple juice
  • Simple syrup

Even more absinthe cocktails to try:

6 Absinthe Cocktails You Need to Try

Amy Traynor
Ranging from classic cocktails using only an absinthe rinse, to modern recipes mixing full ounces of absinthe with pineapple juice, there's something for everyone in this collection of delicious absinthe cocktail recipes!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1 cocktail per recipe

Ingredients
  

Absinthe Suissesse

  • 1 ½ oz absinthe
  • 1 ½ oz cream
  • ½ oz orgeat
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 dash orange blossom water

Chrysanthemum

  • 2 oz dry vermouth
  • 1 oz Benedictine
  • ¼ oz absinthe

Death in the Afternoon

  • 1 oz absinthe, chilled
  • 3 oz champagne, chilled

French Velvet

  • 1 oz absinthe
  • 1 oz coffee liqueur
  • 1 oz espresso, cooled
  • ½ oz Bouvery CV Chocolate Liqueur

Necromancer

  • ¾ oz absinthe
  • ¾ oz Lillet Blanc
  • ¾ oz elderflower liqueur
  • ¾ oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 dash gin

Bluebirds in Barbados

  • 1 oz absinthe
  • ½ oz Luxardo Bitter Bianco
  • ½ oz blue curacao
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • ½ oz fresh pineapple juice
  • ¼ oz simple syrup

Instructions
 

Absinthe Suissesse

  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and dry shake (shake without ice) for about 30 seconds.
  • Fill the shaker 3/4 with ice and shake for an additional 30 seconds.
  • Strain the cocktail into a chilled coupe glass.

Chrysanthemum

  • Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and fill 3/4 with ice.
  • Stir until chilled, about 30 seconds.
  • Strain the cocktail into a coupe glass and garnish with an orange twist.

Death in the Afternoon

  • Pour the chilled absinthe into a champagne flute.
  • Top with chilled champagne.

French Velvet

  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill 3/4 with ice.
  • Shake until chilled, then strain into a cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a star anise.

Necromancer

  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill 3/4 with ice.
  • Shake until chilled then strain into a coupe glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist.

Bluebirds in Barbados

  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill 3/4 with ice.
  • Shake until chilled, then strain into a cocktail glass.
Keyword absinthe, classic cocktails, gin


3 thoughts on “6 Absinthe Cocktails You Need to Try”

  • Wow, what a great line-up of drinks – I’ve only had a corpse reviver and have used absinthe mostly as a rinse. Can’t wait to dive into these recipes soon. Cheers!

  • 5 stars
    I’m SO excited to try some of these inventive (and wonderfully goth) cocktails!!! I’ve always wanted to try absinthe since I love anise, but was a little put off by the rumors that it’s lethal LOL.

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