Believe it or not, this classic New Orleans cocktail was once considered a morning pick-me-up. Not exactly what I’d pair with my avocado toast, but the 1800s were a different time! An Absinthe Frappé is an easy but powerful mix of absinthe, simple syrup, and crushed ice. Garnished with a sprig of mint, it’s high-proof, cool refreshment.
The history of the Absinthe Frappé
Bartender Cayetano Ferrer invented the Absinthe Frappé in 1874 at what would later be known as the Old Absinthe House. Although hard to imagine today, it became a popular morning cocktail. In 1912, the United States banned the sale of absinthe due to claims that is caused hallucinations or even death. It took nearly 100 years before the government lifted the unfounded ban. Today we know that wormwood, a primary botanical in absinthe, does not possess any hallucinogenic properties as previously thought. Absinthe is however, a very high-proof liquor at 55-70+ % ABV! For comparison, the average bottle of vodka or gin is around 40% ABV. Claims of health issues were no doubt related to over consumption of a very powerful spirit.
What ingredients are in an Absinthe Frappé?
A classic Absinthe Frappé is made with:
- Simple syrup
- Plenty of crushed ice
- Mint; for garnish
Some modern recipes also include anisette liqueur or use it in place of simple syrup, but from what I’ve read, it appears that the original recipe would have been little more than absinthe and sugar water over ice. Simple, tasty, and very effective!
What absinthe should I use?
There are now a fairly wide variety of absinthes available in the United States. Two of my personal favorites are Oregon Spirit and Heritage Absinthe Verte. Whatever brand you choose, go for a quality bottle without artificial neon green coloring. Absinthe is a bit expensive, due in part to its high proof. However, one bottle will typically last a very long time and help you make many classic cocktails like the Sazerac, Corpse Reviver #2, and Toronto. If you love the classics, a fine bottle of absinthe is a great home bar investment.
- 1 1/2 oz absinthe
- 1/2 oz simple syrup
- Mint, for garnish
- Add absinthe and simple syrup to cocktail shaker and fill 3/4 with ice.
- Shake until chilled, about 12 seconds. Strain into a double rocks glass or julep cup filled with crushed ice.
- Stir, top with more crushed ice, then garnish with a sprig of mint.