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Entertaining
12 Best Absinthe Cocktails

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Absinthe has had a rough go of it—first people falsely accused it of making them go insane, then the United States banned it for decades, and then all of that misinformation left many people without a clue how to drink it. We’re here to help. Whether you lack the proper equipment for a classic Absinthe Drip, or simply want to add that refreshing anise twinge to a drink, there are plenty of delicious absinthe cocktails worthy of your time. From high-proof drinks that pack a punch to centuries-old Big Easy classics, here are the best absinthe cocktails you need to be drinking.

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This is the most common way to serve absinthe. Just slowly drip water over a cube of sugar placed above the absinthe to dilute and sweeten the spirit simultaneously. If you’re new to drinking absinthe, you should try this libation before making any other cocktail on this list.  It allows you to taste all of the nuances in the spirit and the finite differences between different brands of absinthe, so you can find one you like. This is also just a great way to drink absinthe in any weather or with any meal, especially raw seafood like scallops or oysters.

The Essentials

absinthe
sugar cube
Ice water
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Possibly the most iconic absinthe cocktail, the Sazerac was created way back in 1838 by a New Orleans apothecary named Antoine Peychaud (founder of the Sazerac Company and creator of the eponymous bitters). While it was originally made with brandy instead of whiskey, the great Cognac shortage of the 1870s caused bartenders to swap in rye as the base spirit, but they still kept its signature absinthe rinse. If you have an atomizer, add even more anise flavor with a spritz of absinthe on top.  

The Essentials

Rye
Absinthe
Bitters
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Drink like Ernest Hemingway by mixing up a cocktail of his own invention: the macabrely named Death in the Afternoon. The two-ingredient cocktail is a snap to make. Hemingway said it best when he explained in So Red the Nose, or Breath in the Afternoon, “Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.” Unless you are Hemingway himself, maybe just stick to one or two.

The Essentials

Absinthe
Champagne
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The Zombie is as potent as its name implies. Given the drink has three different rums and a serving of absinthe, one does not casually order a Zombie. If you’re ready to take on the challenge of this tiki-tail behemoth, you’ll be rewarded with a bounty of flavor overflowing with grapefruit, cinnamon, mint, lime and velvet falernum. The mix of high-proof booze ties it all together for a masterpiece you won’t soon forget.

The Essentials

Rum
Absinthe
Falernum
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This tropical take on a Sazerac hinges on a very specific absinthe, courtesy of Brooklyn’s Doc Hersons spirits, infused with dried hibiscus flowers and grand wormwood. Instead of Peychaud’s bitters, we opted for Bittercube Trinity Bitters—a blend of cherry bark, orange and Bolivar bitters. When mixed together with a healthy dose of spiced rum, the result is potent, floral and spicy.

The Essentials

Spiced Rum
Absinthe
Bittercube Trinity Bitters
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High-proof absinthe isn’t just found in super strong cocktails—it’s been known to make an appearance in low-ABV sippers too. This elegant aperitif-style cocktail from the Savoy Cocktail Book is heavy on the dry vermouth, with a splash of herbal Bénédictine and just a touch of absinthe. But make no mistake, those few dashes of absinthe make a world of a difference in terms of complexity.

The Essentials

dry vermouth
Bénédictine
absinthe
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Named for a real German physician stationed in the South Pacific who invented this drink long before the tiki craze hit, the Dr. Funk cocktail originally called for absinthe, lime juice, seltzer and grenadine. But once the legendary tiki founders Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic got their hands on it, they added rum into the mix to create an even more tropical cocktail worthy of the classic tiki annals.  

The Essentials

white rum
Absinthe
Grenadine
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Absinthe and bubbly meet again in this effervescent take on a Sazerac. Rather than just mixing the two a la Hemingway, this signature cocktail takes inspiration from the classic Champagne Cocktail by adding a Peychaud’s bitters-soaked sugar cube, and a long, spiraled lemon twist. Light prosecco lets the more subtle, bitter notes of the green fairy shine through.  

The Essentials

sugar cube
Peychaud’s bitters
Absinthe
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This Absinthe FrappĂ© variation from Aaron Polsky, the bar manager of Los Angeles mainstay Harvard & Stone, goes beyond the simple mix of absinthe, simple syrup, soda water and mint. Polsky adds caraway-tinged aquavit to bring deep spice notes, apricot brandy for a fruit-forward flavor and lime juice to brighten the whole drink. Served up in a coupe glass, it’s one of the classiest way to get absinthe skeptics to fall in love with the spirit.

The Essentials

Absinthe
Lime Juice
Apricot Brandy
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This twist on the Manhattan is a sweet way to enjoy absinthe, especially if you’re a fan of strong, stirred whiskey cocktails. Peppery rye whiskey is tempered with fruity Cherry Heering and sweet vermouth, while a barspoon of absinthe elongates the flavors and ties them together. Whip up a Remember the Maine the next time you’re trying to impress a whiskey drinker at cocktail hour.

The Essentials

rye whiskey
Cherry Heering
absinthe
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If you are a fan of tiki cocktails, you need to try this totally underrated classic. Created by the godfather of all things tiki, Don the Beachcomber, this drink has everything you want from a tiki cocktail: tons of tropical fruit, multiple rums at the base, a seriously large amount of alcohol, and absinthe as a finishing touch. If you’re looking for the cocktail that’s going to wow your tiki-loving friends at your next luau, this is it.

The Essentials

Rum
Falernum
Juices
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Cayetano Ferrer created this simple absinthe drink in 1874 at The Old Absinthe House in New Orleans. Combine simple syrup, soda water and mint leaves with absinthe over crushed ice for a drink somewhere between a Mojito and a Mint Julep. Cooling and herbaceous, this drink is extremely useful when battling hot, humid weather.

The Essentials

Absinthe
simple syrup
mint leaves

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