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Absinthe Drinks

Kathleen Esposito
absinthe glass

Absinthe is a spirit derived from the artemisia absinthium, or grand wormwood, plant. It is one of the strongest spirits you can buy in the United States, at between 90 and 150 proof. Because of its ingredients, it was banned for 95 years, between 1912 and 2007. It has a light fennel or licorice taste, like a weaker (in flavor) version of Jagermeister.

Drinking Absinthe

Absinthe is rarely served neat, again because of its extremely high proof. Instead, most prefer it louched with water. To do so, follow these instructions:

  1. Fill an absinthe glass or cordial glass 1/8 full of absinthe.
  2. Place an absinthe spoon on the lip of the glass.
  3. Put a sugar cube on top of the spoon.
  4. Slowly pour cold water over the spoon so it hits the sugar then drips into the glass.
  5. Stop when the sugar cube dissolves. Your drink should change from dark green to a translucent lime color.

A less traditional method is to dip a spoonful of sugar in the absinthe, set the sugar on fire, and then continue with steps 4 and 5.

Note that absinthe is served with specialty glassware, but if you don't have these items a normal cocktail spoon and a wine glass or rocks glass will do in a pinch. Just make sure you keep the ratios the same so your drink is not overly strong.

Absinthe Recipes

Give this strong spirit a try in the following recipes:

Death in the Afternoon

Death in the Afternoon cocktail

This simple drink was popularized by Ernest Hemingway. It adds a tartness and a fizz to the absinthe.


  • 1 ounce absinthe
  • 4 ounces dry champagne


  1. Pour both ingredients into a champagne flute.
  2. Stir and serve.

Kalishnikov Shot

Be careful with this one as it features an open flame. Don't serve it when you're already intoxicated.


  • 1/4 ounce lemon vodka
  • 1/4 ounce absinthe
  • Lemon
  • Sugar cube
kalishnikov shot


  1. Pour the first two ingredients into a shot glass.
  2. Place a lemon slice on top so it covers the mouth.
  3. Put the sugar cube on the lemon slice
  4. Add two drops of absinthe to the sugar cube.
  5. Light the sugar on fire so it will caramelize.
  6. Extinguish the fire.
  7. Remove the lemon slice and drink.

Wharf Rat

Want something sweeter and more cocktail like? Try this popular gem.

Wharf rat cocktail


  • 1/2 ounce white rum
  • 1/2 ounce grenadine
  • 1/2 ounce apricot brandy
  • 3 ounces orange juice
  • 1/2 ounce absinthe


  1. Pour the first four ingredients into a highball glass with ice.
  2. Stir.
  3. Add the absinthe and let it settle.

Touch of Mint

touch of mint cocktail

If you like fennel-flavored toothpaste, you will love this one.


  • 1/4 ounce peppermint schnapps
  • 1/2 ounce absinthe


  1. Add both ingredients to a shaker with ice.
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
  3. Garnish with a mint spring if desired.

Mortal Stain

This rich cocktail gets its name from its deep red color.

mortal stain cocktail


  • 1/4 ounce absinthe
  • 1/4 ounce sour apple schnapps
  • 1/4 ounce chambord
  • 1/4 ounce grenadine


  1. Add ingredients to a shaker with ice.
  2. Shake vigorously for two minutes.
  3. Strain into a cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with a cherry if desired.

Green Vesper

If fruity cocktails are not your thing, you may enjoy this drink, which brings out the natural flavor of the absinthe.

green vesper cocktail


  • 1 1/2 ounces gin
  • 1/4 ounce vodka
  • 1/4 ounce absinthe


  1. Add ingredients to a shaker with ice.
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
  3. Garnish with lemon zest if desired.

Try Different Brands

The flavor and strength of absinthe varies by the brand, so you may have to try a few to see which is ideal for your cocktails. Note that European and U.S. brands can be quite different in terms of both flavor and potency. It's worth it to make the recipes with each to see which one works best.

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Absinthe Drinks