This is the fourth of five variations on the Old-Fashioned I’ll be highlighting from Robert O. Simonson’s book on that classic cocktail. As you may have guessed from the title of this post, it is an absinthe-based take on the drink. Now, I absolutely love absinthe – and yet, I find it does not often shine within the context of a cocktail, but is instead best more or less on its own. In fact, my preferred way to drink it is cut 1-1 with water, and with just a touch of sugar and a little bitters. Wait a minute – base spirit, sugar, bitters…that is an Old-Fashioned! Hmm…
Simonson got this recipe from Doug Petry of Louisville’s Rye restaurant. Petry uses Kübler, a Swiss absinthe that is relative low-proof for the spirit (53% ABV), and lacks the green coloration usually found in French absinthes. Not having a bottle on hand, I used Delaware Phoenix’s Walton Waters formulation, which is a fine all-around absinthe.
1 1/2 ounces absinthe
1 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce St. Germain
3-4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Stir the absinthe, simple syrup, and St. Germain in a mixing glass with ice until chilled, then strain into an old-fashioned glass over a large chunk of ice. Float the bitters.
The float provides a very nice visual touch! And while looking at the ingredients you might think this will be overly-sweet, the combination of the simple syrup and the St. Germain has the effect of taking the sharper aspects of the absinthe’s flavor down several notches without sweetening the drink too much at all. It is still a sweet drink, reminiscent of licorice candy, but not cloying by any means, and winds up being one of the better ways I’ve seen absinthe used outside of its more traditional presentations. Four livers.