Named for the legendary boxer Jack Dempsey, this cocktail may not be for everyone, but its distinctive combination of flavors could make devotees out of a few. Like its namesake, this one hits hard.
3 oz gin
1 oz applejack
1 tsp absinthe
1 tsp grenadine
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass half filled with ice and stir thoroughly. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
The Dempsey Cocktail
Everyone’s got a few movies or books that they go back to again and again. These don’t even have to be your favorites, just an old friend that’s worth revisiting from time to time. For me, The Spanish Apartment (L’Auberge Espagnole in French) is one of those films.
The Spanish Apartment (2002)
In our earlier article, The History of Absinthe, we touched briefly on the long-held belief that absinthe – and specifically the wormwood in it – taken in significant quantity will cause a drinker to go insane. This belief was one of the major motivating factors that led to a nearly century-long ban on absinthe in the US and much of Europe. In fact, the notion that absinthe causes hallucinations persists in pop culture and the public consciousness to this day, and is often played for humor in film and television.
The Duchess Cocktail is a little-known drink that we dug up in Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide. But this cocktail is so tasty and complex that we’re hoping to inspire a revival.
It’s especially important in this case to use the best quality dry and sweet vermouth you can find. Noilly Prat is the standard in most places, but we recommend Dolin if you can find it.
1 part absinthe
1 part dry vermouth
1 part sweet vermouth
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass half filled with ice. Stir thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
The unexpectedly complex and delicious Duchess Cocktail
Proof that the social scare film is as old as the cinema itself, Absinthe is the 1913 equivalent of Reefer Madness. The titles here are not in English, but it’s a silent film so you shouldn’t need them to follow the story anyway. Note that the main character is an artist with a particularly goofy beret. It is a testament to the social scare film’s habitual oversimplification that within days of his first sip of absinthe, the artist’s life has fallen apart completely; and within moments of giving up the drink, his life is put back together.
Absinthe is interesting both to enthusiasts of silent cinema and as an example of society’s attitude towards absinthe as La Belle Époque drew to a close.
There are a lot of drinks in the world. From British best bitter to choujiu (Chinese rice wine), everywhere human beings have put down roots, you’ll find some sort of booze. And of all the beverages that have ever passed human lips, perhaps the most infamous is absinthe. This bright green spirit can boast the king of bad reputations, so much so that it was demonized and banned in several western countries for nearly a century. But what led to such drastic actions? What had influenced public opinion so dramatically against absinthe? This is a question that has been neglected, perhaps intentionally, for quite a long time; and to do it justice – unfortunately – requires quite a long answer.
An amateur preparing a dram of absinthe.
Vieux Carré Absinthe is very likely the best contribution Pennsylvania has ever made to New Orleans. Produced by Philadelphia Distilling, I have to say that this – beautifully designed and skillfully marketed – bottle has won our boozey hearts. While we haven’t had the opportunity to sample a huge variety of absinthes this is the only one (so far – we do live in a pretty restricted state, booze-buying wise) that I really liked, aside from our friend and absintheur Colin‘s own private batch. We’ve heard that Vieux Carré might be considered a beginners-level introduction to absinthe, but you’re going to love mixing with it anyway.
The care package we received from Philadelphia Distilling.
To say that the Sazerac is a classic American cocktail is not entirely accurate. Though inevitably some drink historians disagree, for the most part the Sazerac is considered the oldest known cocktail created in the New World, making it the classic American cocktail. Invented in New Orleans sometime before 1830, the Sazerac is also considered one of the several official cocktails of the Crescent City.
We’ve seen some recipes that call for bourbon, but for historical accuracy nothing but rye will do. Also, if you have it on hand, always opt for Peychaud’s bitters.
4 oz rye
1 tsp simple syrup
1 tsp absinthe
2 dashes of bitters
Fill a mixing glass halfway with ice and add rye, simple syrup and bitters. Pour the absinthe into a rocks glass and swirl until the absinthe coats the inside of the glass. Stir the rye, simple syrup, and bitters and strain into the rocks glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.
To kick off absinthe week, we put together this quick little video sip walking you through the traditional preparation harkening back to the 19th century and La Belle Epoque.
Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that I got a haircut between shoots.
So next week Shanna and I will be exploring the sights, sounds, and booze of Walt Disney World. But while we’re away we’ve lined up a whole series of posts about one of the most neglected spirits in boozology: absinthe.
So be sure to check back Monday and all week because we’ve got long posts, short posts, recipes and videos. By next Friday you’ll know so much about the green fairy you’ll be able to make a teetotaler’s head spin.