Absinthe, also known as the “Green Fairy,” is a high-alcohol spirit that’s rather misunderstood. While some believe it to be illegal, thanks to its mythical hallucinogenic qualities (myth: busted), perhaps the biggest myth around the distillate is that it can’t play well with other flavors in cocktails.
While traditionally, absinthe is drunk on its own with a few drops of water and a sugar cube, the famed wormwood-based liqueur lends its magic to a variety of cocktails — some classic, and others modern.
So dust off that green bottle and get your shaker ready: These are eight of the best cocktails to make using absinthe.
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The Countess Cocktail Recipe
Created by Andrew Ahlquist of South Main Kitchen in Alpharetta, Ga., this is, in his words, a “fancy” cocktail. Earl Grey tea is a star player in the drink, its flavor infused into Lillet Blanc liqueur and mixed with gin, elderflower liqueur, pomegranate juice, and lemon. The Countess is then topped with orange blossom water and flamed absinthe for an unforgettable presentation.
The Tuxedo No. 2 Recipe
A classic riff on the gin Martini, the Tuxedo No. 2 dresses the drink up by adding Maraschino liqueur, orange bitters, and absinthe to the base components of gin and vermouth. The resulting drink is as spiffy and elegant as the suit it’s named after.
The Corpse Reviver No. 2 Recipe
The Corpse Reviver No. 2 comes from a family of cocktails meant for hair of the dog sipping. This edition calls for gin, triple sec, lemon, Lillet Blanc, and a rinse of absinthe, and is sure to revive its drinker from even the deadliest of hangovers, at least temporarily.
The Blackthorn Returns Recipe
A variation on the Irish Blackthorn cocktail, the Blackthorn Returns was developed at Brooklyn, N.Y.’s The Rookery. This cocktail combines Irish whiskey with blanc vermouth, orange bitters, and an absinthe rinse for a boozy tipple with pronounced anise.
The Monkey Gland Recipe
Created by famed mixologist Harry MacElhone in 1920s Paris, the Monkey Gland’s playful name is a nod to a pseudoscientific theory popularized at the time. The drink combines the earthy, herbaceous flavors of absinthe and gin with the bright, poppy notes of Grenadine and orange juice. Garnish with a twist of orange, and sip an unusually complex concoction.
The Always the Sun Recipe
For a bit of sunshine, even in the dead of winter, this cocktail created at Oklahoma City’s Barkeep Supply offers a dose of vitamin C. Made with gin, banana liqueur, lemon curd, vanilla simple syrup, and lemon juice, the drink is sweet and creamy. An absinthe rinse offsets the drink’s tart profile with some herbal complexity.
The Secret Life of Plants Recipe
From Portland, Ore.’s Hey Love comes this tropical sipper that celebrates flavors from both Chinese and tiki cultures. To make it, shake together white rum, mango oolong syrup, orgeat, Velvet Falernum liqueur, lime juice, salt solution, and a dash of absinthe. Serve over crushed ice, and garnish with a handful of aromatic Thai basil.
The Sazerac Recipe
A New Orleans staple, the Sazerac has a rich history dating back to the 1800s. To make NOLA’s official cocktail, stir rye (or brandy) together with Demerara syrup and plenty of Peychaud’s bitters. Strain into an absinthe-rinsed chilled rocks glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.