Friday, April 25, 2008

What I was drinking - Lucid Absinthe

A day late this time. I got a bottle of Absinthe for my birthday and JS-on-dead-tree runs a story about it today. The story features Milwaukee bars serving Absinthe the classic French way:
To serve absinthe, he pours two ounces of the liquor into a glass and positions it under a spigot. He places a slotted spoon on top of the glass and a sugar cube on top of the spoon, then he opens the spigot. Cold water eases over the sugar cube and into the glass, dissolving the cube and sweetening the licorice-tasting liquor and revealing the herb-based alcohol's pale green color.
Absinthe is strong stuff, something like 270 proof with an intense anise flavor, and that hallucinogenic wormwood, too. I am more disposed to have mine in the classic New Orleans cocktail, the Sazerac. Robert Hess at DrinkBoy has this description.
The evolution of the recipe for the Sazerac cocktail thus spanned perhaps 30 years or more before settling in on a combination of Rye, bitters, sugar, and Absinthe. This is still the basic recipe that you will find today, the main difference being that an Absinthe substitute is used in place of that now banned ingredient, and the bitters will vary from being straight Peychaud's, to a mixture of Peychaud's and Angostura, to being only Angostura. Bourbon has also replaced Rye as the base spirit in this drink, this reflects the increased popularity of Bourbon over Rye since the repeal of prohibition.

As a cocktail, I find the Sazerac to be a wonderfully contemplative drink. It's complex and interesting layers of different flavors lend itself to drinking in a quiet and dimly lit room, perhaps with the crackle and flicker of a burning fire on the hearth. Some establishments will make this like a normal cocktail, shaken with ice, and strained into a cocktail glass. Myself, I feel that this looses some of the interesting flavors and qualities of the drink. I make mine by taking a pre-chilled old fashioned glass, and using an atomizer squirt in 3 to 4 sprays of Pernod (or some other Absinthe substitute). Without an atomizer, you can simply pour into the glass a bar-spoon of Pernod and roll it around the glass to coat the sides, leaving a small puddle in the bottom of the glass. To this I add a splash of simple syrup, a dash of Peychaud's bitters, and then 2 ounces of Rye Whiskey. You can use a cube of sugar instead of the simple syrup, but I feel that the remaining grit of the sugar is a distraction that doesn't befit this drink. A simple twist of lemon peel is all that is needed for a garnish.

My recipe.
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lucid Absinthe
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 dashes Peychaud Bitters
  • 2 ounces of Whiskey
Swirl Absinthe around old fashioned glass. Add sugar and bitters, muddle well. Fill glass with crushed ice and top with whiskey. I may use brandy next time, as in the original 19th century recipe.

My bottle of Lucid will see many more birthdays if I stick with this recipe.


Dad29 said...

And you could become the next Hemingway!!

Sad to note, however, that rye will become un-available this summer (according to news reports)--which means no rye bread, nor rye whiskey in a couple of years, factoring 'aging' into the equasion.


Headless Blogger said...

No rye, I may cut off my ear.