Monday Booktails: Fée Fraîche
Today just happens to be National Absinthe Day, so this week’s cocktail from the Experimental Cocktail Club book had to contain the elusive “green fairy” as one of its ingredients. Technically speaking, absinthe is a spirit, not a liqueur, because it contains no added sugar, and it’s made by infusing alcohol with wormwood, anise, fennel, and herbs during the distillation process. It’s bottled at a high strength, has a potent licorice flavor, and since it comes in at somewhere around 120 proof, it’s meant to be tempered with water or mixed into cocktails. There is a traditional method of serving absinthe that involves slowly pouring ice water into the spirit over a sugar cube that rests on a special spoon. As soon as the water hits the absinthe, it reacts with the oils in the fennel and the anise and the absinthe transforms into an opalescent, milky white color. This effect is quite magical, and is often referred to as the “coming of the green fairy.” Originally developed by a doctor at the early part of the 19th century, absinthe was thought to be a tonic that could cure just about anything. By the mid-1800s, Europe was positively smitten with it, and absinthe went on to reach the height of its popularity during the decadent Belle Époque era, which ended with World War I. By 1915, absinthe had been banned in a number of countries, including the United States, and was being blamed for alcoholism, illness, murders, suicides, and all the less than desirable behaviors of the Parisian artists and writes with whom it was so popular. Absinthe production began again in the United States in 2007, and the green fairy continues to make a strong comeback at cocktail bars everywhere.
Today’s cocktail is a drink that’s made at the Prescription Cocktail Club in the heart of the Saint Germain quarter in Paris. It’s one of a number of bars owned by Romée de Goriainoff, Pierre-Charles Cros, Olivier Bon, and Xavier Padovani, the authors of Experimental Cocktail Club. Quite a few of their recipes call for absinthe, but what drew me to this one in particular was the fact that it also had St. Germain and cucumber in it. The base spirit is gin, which lays an herbal and citrus foundation. The absinthe and the Yellow Chartreuse both contribute licorice flavors and even more herbs, while the St. Germain and the orange bitters bring in lots of fruitiness. The mint and the cucumber make the drink incredibly refreshing, and the egg white softens the sour flavors and adds a creamy texture. Sipping it made me feel like I was back in Paris on a beautiful night in June. Cheers everyone. Happy Monday!
¾ oz Bluecoat gin
2 teaspoons Pernod Absinthe
2 tsp Yellow Chartreuse
1 tsp fresh cucumber juice
¾ oz St. Germain
6 mint leaves
1 egg white
5 dashes Woodford reserve orange bitters
Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker without ice and shake vigorously. Add the ice to the shaker and shake again. Strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass and garnish with a slice of cucumber. Enjoy!