Lucid was the first legal absinthe reintroduced to the United States a few years back, and since then, dozens of brands of the green-eyed fairy have been appearing on the shelves of liquor stores across this nation of discriminating and indiscriminate drinkers. For those who are discriminating, such as Sonja Kassebaum, distillery owner, blogger, and host of this month’s Mixology Monday, Lucid is a perfect start for mixologists and dabbler’s alike. We bought a bottle of it at Lenell’s in Red Hook, Brooklyn, for 60 bucks right when it came out, and starting looking up old-school recipes that called for a dash here, or two dashes there. The Rattlesnake is a perfect example of what absinthe can do using such a small amount: rye, egg white, lemon juice, simple syrup, and last, but not least, absinthe to give the Rattlesnake its bite.
Alone, absinthe can be a bitter comfort for some who like their way-high-in-alcohol spirits to lull them into a sleepy state of confusion. But turning the high-octane of this anise-flavored spirit into a louche will turn any pre-dinner or postprandial tippler into a believer. Recently, at Hotel Delmano in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Paul ordered some St. George Spirits absinthe verte, and it came complete with the multi-spigoted urn filled with icy tap water, holey decorous absinthe spoon with a sugar cube placed atop it, and a glass of absinthe poised under the spigot to collect the water slowly dripping onto the eagerly awaiting cube, and then through the spoon. Watching the sugar cube slowly dissolve is half the fun; the other half is watching the absinthe turn opalescent. It does this because of insoluble components in the spirit. It’s a neat effect, and with the addition of the sugar water, the bitterness naturally abates. Drink slowly or you’ll be drunk faster than you can say “Oscar Wilde.”
A big fan of both playing with absinthe and coming up with mules (highballs with ginger beer), Steve plied his mixology skills by coming up with two devilishly delicious drinks. We’ve written about his Lancaster’s Mule, named after a character in Allan Gurganis’s White People, and how rum and absinthe marry well when ginger is introduced. This mule is made with white rum, but what if you’re jonesing for an aged-rum libation? Look no further, for the Old Mule delivers lots of deep flavors and a nice bite.
(created by Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz)
1 1/2 ounces aged rum (try Flor de Caña 18 yr.)
1 teaspoon absinthe (try Lucid)
3 dashes Angostura bitters
4 ounces ginger ale, or a mild ginger beer
Stir rum and absinthe in ice for 30 seconds. Strain into an ice-filled highball or double rocks glass. Top with chilled ginger beer.
Does absinthe make you hallucinate? Not in the LSD sense. But at about 124 proof, if you drink it enough at one sitting, you may start seeing Salome dance for the head of John the Baptist. You’ve been warned.