Brunelle Cocktail

2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz Rich Demerara Syrup
0.5 oz Kübler Absinthe

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe

* * *

It easily goes without saying that the greatest reward of doing this site is the people we get to meet.  Not only have we formed some lasting real-world friendships with the kind of folk who otherwise wouldn’t be caught dead in public with the likes of us (it’s all quite Breakfast Clubby at times), but we have assembled a cadre of loyal readers who keep us sharp with probing questions like “Hey, why is there only one Absinthe drink on the Drinks page?”  Readers like Dominic.

Back in June, Dominic and I exchanged emails about the lack of drinks on our site which use Absinthe as their base spirit.  For us, Absinthe has always been something used in measured doses, and to be quite frank, we’re not big fans of the stuff as the main component of any drink.  On numerous levels, a little Absinthe goes a very long way.  Still, if you hunted down a bottle of Kübler because of us, we owe it to you to throw a few more drinks your way.  Since Dominic was kind enough to send me a list of Absinthe-based cocktails he found in Patrick Gavin Duffy’s The Standard Bartender’s Guide, we figured we better choose one of those.

The Brunelle is a strange little drink of which most people don’t seem too fond.  Erik Ellestad added a bit of Gin to his version (a fine idea if ever there was one), but that gives the Brunelle something other than Absinthe as its base spirit.  If we were going to come through for Dominic and add another primarily Absinthe drink to our list, we’d have to stick closer to the recipe as given, which is simply ¼ part Absinthe, 1 Tbsp sugar, and ¾ part lemon juice – ratios which just didn’t excite us in any way that could be called positive.

Our liberties began with scaling back the green fairy, which works best providing a harmonious background note.  Noting that the drink is really nothing more than lemonade with a splash of booze, we made a nice, yet tart lemonade with rich demerara syrup.  The thinking here was that the demerara would complement the Absinthe, while the rich version would allow us to bring in enough sweetness without forsaking the tart, herbal qualities of the drink.  And that pretty well sums up the result.

The Brunelle, as presented here, is a refreshing summer quaff that wakes up the mouth and invigorates the body (if you believe in aromatherapy) without getting you all sloppy.  There are a lot of layers going on in the drink, with the sour, the sweet, and the Absinthe each stepping out of the band for their own solo moments.  As always, if you’re not an Absinthe fan, pass this one by, but if you’re looking for a new variation on the summer sour, I highly recommend it.


Esoterica:  Patrick Duffy, the actor, will be returning to the role of Bobby Ewing for the 2012 sequel to the hit series Dallas.  No word on whether he will make his entrance via the shower.


6 responses to “Brunelle Cocktail

  1. He better not. I’m still pissed about that.

    But, this cocktail sounds intriguiging! I’ve never tried Absinthe so it would certainly be an adventure for me!

  2. I really liked absinthe with orange…. used it in a fish soup a while back. It is such a complex flavor… I can imagine the lemon would be equally interesting with it… looks like a great drink!

  3. The Brunelle is one of those puzzling drinks. A bartender in SF really likes it, but I’ve never been able to find anything earlier than the Savoy reference.

    However, as you say PGD is a good source, and was, it seems a bit more of a stickler when it comes to transcribing recipes than the Savoy editors. So in the first Duffy edition the Brunelle is: 1/4 Absinthe; 3/4 Lemon Juice; 1/2 Tablespoon of Sugar.

    To that, I will only say, by the time Duffy compiled his book, real Absinthe had been missing in France, Europe and America for about 15 years. It should probably be Pernod or Ricard in the drink, people didn’t really differentiate between them and Absinthe.

    So: 1/2 oz Pernod, 1 1/2 oz Lemon Juice, 1/2 Tablespoon of superfine or caster sugar.

    Personally, one of my all time favorite drinks is an Absinthe and Gin Fizz with Egg White. Called a Sea Fizz, it’s based on the C.P. Fizz, but adds Egg White.

    Something like: 1/2 oz Absinthe; 1 1/2 oz Gin; 3/4 oz Lemon Juice; 1 oz simple syrup; 1/2 oz Egg White. Dry Shake, add ice, shake and strain into a fizz glass. Top up with Soda Water.

    So good, but don’t call me from where ever you find yourself in the morning…

    • Agreed — and it was certainly a bit of a challenge not to add another spirit. I do really like it, though, and I think it makes for a great summer semi-mocktail.

      What confuses me about PGD is that he was a bartender in the late 19th century, yet his books don’t start coming out until the mid-1930s. Highly probable, I guess. From the dates, and the documentation you’ve sent me, it certainly seems as if the Brunelle began at the Savoy. Any ideas as to the name? I didn’t come up with anything, but I didn’t dig too deeply.

      What’s the provenance on the Sea Fizz? I need a Friday drink, which would be fantastic excuse to make one.

  4. C.P. Fizz is from McElhone, named after Cole Porter and from Barflies and Cocktails, if I remember correctly. I think someone in NY started adding Egg White and called it the Sea Fizz, but am not sure of exact provenance. I encountered it via eGullet.

    The Sea Fizz is a drink I love to make for people who want a drink that features Absinthe, it’s fantastic, the egg white foam acts as a great delivery vehicle for the scent of Absinthe and also tempers the proof. Way too easy to drink.

    Regarding Brunelle, I’ve got nothing earlier than Savoy. I’ve asked everyone I know and no one knows of an earlier reference. Seems French-ish maybe?

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