October 10, 2009

With a fanfare of trumpets, I proudly present drink #100

Wow. 100 cocktails posted. It took just over 6 months to get here...I'm not sure if that's too slow or too quick.

I promised you a special ingredient for drink number one-hundred, and I shall deliver. I've been itching for months, nay, years, to sample this one, and at every turn, I found it too expensive, too hard to procure, too poorly reviewed a brand to sample it. But then, glory and trumpets, Mr. Frodo, my favorite local distiller, Great Lakes Distillery, obtained FDA and ATF approval, and now I have it. What is it, you may ask?


Yes, I have tamed the Green Fairy. Well, not really. Turns out multitudes of nations have had what I like to call "cranio-rectal insertion disorder*" when it came to Absinthe for nearly a hundred years. You see, they seemed to think that absinthe made you crazy, because of an ingredient that was contained therein. Grande wormwood, a bittering and flavoring agent in absinthe, was widely regarded as a psychoactive substance. It made good men mad and mad men worse. It contained thujone, which the devil used to slick his beard. As it turns out, while thujone isn't exactly sunshine and daisies if consumed straight, absinthe contains thujone in such small amounts as to be damn near non-existent. Yes, the US government, and governments around the world, decided to stamp out a non-existent problem by making the whole thing illegal, with little to no fact checking. Gee, that's never happened before. *cough-Prohibition* *cough-cough-hemp-cough*

Excuse me. Something in my throat. So sorry.

Anyway, my local distillery has made absinthe, and as soon as I learned it was available, I asked my awesome local grocery if they could procure some for me. They did, and I now have two 375ml bottles of Amerique 1912 Absinthe Verte. GLD also makes an Absinthe Rouge, flavored with hibiscus, among other botanical, but I haven't found those nearby yet. Perhaps when I finally tour the distillery I can procure a bottle.

There are dozens of classic drink recipes that call for absinthe. Many of them acknowledge that a decent pastis can substitute, with somewhat inferior results. However, I decided to go with a drink that has only three ingredients to introduce this spirit, so that the flavors can be easily discerned. It really helps to make this with ingredients that are familiar to you, so that you can pick out just how much flavor absinthe brings to the party, even in small amounts. So here is our 100th drink:
The Absinthe Martini

2 oz good quality gin (I used Rehorst, from Great Lakes Distillery, natch**)
1/2 oz dry vermouth (I used my workhorse, Noilly Prat)
1/2 tsp absinthe

Build over ice in mixing glass, stirring well to combine. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.
I figured I couldn't go wrong pairing two spirits from the same distillery, and I was definitely right. The sharp and sweet flavor from the ginseng and sweet basil in the Rehorst gin pairs so nicely with the anise notes of their Amerique 1912 that you just wanna lay down and cry. The botanicals of all three ingredients mesh in a wonderful way, making the whole drink sing with a slightly acerbic character that I just love.

While the Amerique 1912 doesn't louche (cloud up) as much as many other types of pastis do, flavorwise it's such a wonderfully balanced spirit that it's general transparency is easily overlooked. I can't wait to feature absinthe in more drinks along the way. (I can tell you that using it as a rinse in a classic Sazerac is a thing of beauty.)

So with this exotic ingredient under our belt, it is my hope that you've enjoyed reading and experimenting with me, and that you'll stick with me as I ease on down the road. Here's to another 100 drinks, however long it takes to get there...the company's the great thing on a trip like this, and I'm glad you all have come along.

Absinthe Martini

* - that is to say, they had their collective heads up their collective asses.

** - Definitely not a commercial...that was a declaration of love.


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