The Absinthe Frappé
Combine Absinthe and syrup in a mixing glass, stir.
Fill a rocks glass brimming with crushed ice and pour Absinthe mixture over.
(Optional) Top with a splash of Seltzer.
Garnish prettily. Orange and mint are nice.
Serve with a straw.
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The Absinthe Frappé is a slippery fish. It doesn’t appear in most cocktail books, even those published before the 1912 ban, and in the books in which it does appear, recipes are all over the place. Fortunately, the name alone provides us with most of the archeological clues we need to reconstruct this charming, little summer libation.
First, we know it contains Absinthe. Frappé, in cocktail terms, means to fill a glass with crushed ice. We’re already 90% of the way there. However, like a fourth quarter first-and-goal, being close doesn’t guarantee success. Many recipes call for sweetening with Anisette, a sweet, licorice-tasting liqueur. Others call for sugar. Cocktail Boothby’s 1891 California-style Frappé called for Orgeat, an almond-based syrup. His Eastern-style version omits sweetener altogether. Moreover, an occasional splash of fizzy stuff is found here and there, and cocktail guru David Wondrich blends his like a frozen daiquiri. It’s hard to keep track of them all.
Whatever fancy strikes you, two factors are ultimately important to keep in mind, both in preserving the flavor and the history of the drink. First, a little sweetness really propels the concoction. Absinthe offers a strong, herbal punch, and a smidgen of candy does indeed help the medicine go down. Second, imagine that you’re faced with the sweltering humidity of a New Orleans summer day (or evening, for that matter). Lots of ice is just the thing. You cool down just looking at it.
For Cayetano Ferrer, inventor of the drink, the Frappé offered his customers not only a stomach-settling (and supposedly, hallucination-inducting) brace of Absinthe, it also highlighted the Industrial Age marvel of plentiful, clean ice. Plus, there’s that thing about combating the New Orleans humidity.
All in, if you find Absinthe to your liking, skip the drip and sip the Frappé.
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