20 best Absinthe cocktails

Words by Simon Difford

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Absinthe is a most unusual cocktail ingredient as it's the main base spirit in some cocktails while is used in mere dash proportions in others. Absinthe's aroma and flavour are so intense that just a dash or a few millilitres can be enough to aromatise a cocktail. I've selected the following 20 cocktails for how well they harness absinthe's flavour, be that as a base spirit or modifier.

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Absinthe Spider Highball
With: Absinthe, aromatic bitters and ginger ale.
We say: Absinthe and ginger ale combine in this refreshing highball.

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The Atty Cocktail
With: Dry gin, dry vermouth, crème de violette and absinthe.
We say: Shaken, or stirred, this Martini-style cocktail is dry and aromatic with subtle floral and aniseed notes.

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Bombay No.2
With: Cognac, triple sec, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth and absinthe.
We say: A smooth, complex, Sazerac-style Martini.

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De La Louisiane #4
With: Rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, Bénédictine, absinthe, Creole-style bitters and chilled water.
We say: A rye-based Sweet Manhattan made even sweeter with herbal Bénédictine liqueur and bittered with Peychaud's and absinthe.

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Death in the Afternoon
With: Absinthe, sugar syrup and brut champagne.
We say: Bravado (absinthe) dominates this drink alongside hints of biscuity champagne. We added a touch of sugar to tame this hardman's cocktail.

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Duchess
With: Sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, absinthe, chilled water and orange bitters.
We say: Aniseed and liquorice notes from absinthe pervade this vermouth based cocktail, even though we have dramatically reduced the amount used from the original recipe which calls for equal parts of each ingredient.

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Fairy Cream
With: Absinthe, single cream, dark crème de cacao and white crème de cacao.
We say: Absinthe sits majestically with cream and chocolate in this indulgent after-dinner cocktail.

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Green Swizzle
With: Light rum, white overproof rum, absinthe, falernum liqueur, crème de menthe and lime juice.
We say: Robustly flavoured ingredients brought together harmoniously in a tall, most refreshing swizzle. Worthy of its legendary status.

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Improved Holland Gin Cocktail
With: Genever, maraschino liqueur, sugar syrup, absinthe and aromatic bitters.
We say: Salmon-pink with subtle juniper, rounded by maraschino liqueur, aromatic bitters and absinthe.

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In-Seine
With: Absinthe, chilled water, cognac, bourbon whiskey and elderflower liqueur.
We say: Elderflower liqueur mellows and boosts floral notes in the cognac while the merest dash of absinthe dries and adds a robust hint of aniseed.

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Moonshine Martini
With: Dry gin, maraschino liqueur, dry vermouth and absinthe.
We say: A wet Martini with balanced hints of maraschino and absinthe.

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Morning Glory Fizz
With: Absinthe, whisky, lemon juice, lime juice, sugar syrup, egg white and soda water.
We say: This classic, sour and aromatic cocktail is traditionally considered a morning after a pick-me-up / rejuvenate 'hair-of-the-dog'.

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Neptune's Wrath
With: Dry gin, absinthe, lemon juice, sugar syrup, egg white and Green Chartreuse.
We say: Last Word-like with egg-white smoothing the way for a noticeable slug of absinthe.

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Obituary
With: Dry gin, absinthe and dry vermouth.
We say: What a way to go. A Dry Martini with a dash of the Green Fairy.

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Original Sin
With: Absinthe, vodka, sake and honey syrup.
We say: Sake and vodka with a delicate hint of honey.

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Paddington
With: Absinthe, white/gold light rum, orange marmalade, Lillet Blanc, grapefruit juice and lemon juice.
We say: Sweet and sour with citrus tartness and faint absinthe anise.

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Pour Me Another
With: Cognac, pedro ximenez sherry, absinthe and chilled water.
We say: Raisiny pedro ximenez sherry adds subtle richness to the cognac with hints of flavour from the absinthe and lemon zest. This drink benefits from generous dilution so consider adding a splash of water.

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Remember the Maine
With: Absinthe, chilled water, rye whiskey, bourbon whiskey, sweet vermouth and cherry brandy liqueur.
We say: Charles H. Baker says of this twist on a Sazerac, "Treat this one with the respect it deserves, gentlemen."

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Sazerac Cocktail (Difford's recipe)
With: Absinthe, chilled water, cognac, rye whisky, bourbon whiskey, sugar syrup, Creole-style bitters and aromatic bitters.
We say: If you are rightly concerned about chucking expensive absinthe down the drain then consider straining into a shot glass and serve on the side. The seven to one proportion used to rinse the glass produces a tasty chaser.

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Waldorf Cocktail No.1
With: Rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, absinthe and orange bitters.
We say: It may go against modern bartending etiquette but this modern riff on the original equal parts Waldorf is best enjoyed shaken rather than stirred.

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