The "green fairy" is more versatile than most people give it credit for.

By Carey Jones and John D. McCarthy
Updated August 28, 2017
Carey Jones

Even if you’ve never tried absinthe, you’ve heard plenty about it. “The green fairy” is iconic, as are legends of its power. Long illegal in the States, absinthe is said to provoke hallucinations, although we’d venture to guess that’s not from any hidden superpowers; it’s because Pernod absinthe, the classic, is an eye-popping 68 percent alcohol.

But there are plenty of ways to enjoy it more-or-less responsibly. Since absinthe’s characteristic anise flavor is so intense, even a short measure in a cocktail can really dominate. There are plenty of classic absinthe cocktails, but we enjoy getting a little creative with the powerful spirit. Here are three recent favorites.

Easy: Absinthe Lemonade

Carey Jones

Just half an ounce of absinthe takes over this fresh lemonade; lemon and sugar do a great job of balancing out the anise flavor. Light, refreshing, and a great introduction for anyone a little intimidated by absinthe.

Instructions: In a shaker with ice, combine 1/2 ounce of absinthe, 1/2 ounce of simple syrup, and 1 ounce of fresh lemon juice. Shake that all up together hard, then strain into a tall glass over fresh ice. Add club soda to top (about 2 ounces) and garnish with lemon wheels.

Intermediate: Absinthe Martini

Carey Jones

Drinking absinthe straight… that probably would make you hallucinate. What if you want to appreciate its flavors without too many other ingredients getting in the way? Try a martini. Here, two full ounces of fruity, gently sweet vermouth tone down and smooth out the absinthe, while a lemon peel brightens it up; but trust us, absinthe is still very much the star of the show.

Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine 1 ounce of absinthe and 2 ounces of Dolin Blanc vermouth. Stir that all up together for about 30 seconds, until your ice begins to melt. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a lemon peel—squeezing it over the drink first to release the citrus oils.

Advanced: Frabsinthe

Carey Jones

Or “Death in the Afternoon: The Sequel.” Move over, frosé; here’s Frabsinthe. Whizzing an absinthe cocktail up in a blender gives you a drink that’s actually quite refreshing while still carrying the spirit’s sharp anise bite. Here, the key ingredient is a dry white wine; we think Vinho Verde works beautifully. It makes up the bulk of the drink while still letting absinthe take centerstage

Instructions: To make a pitcher of four: In a blender, combine 12 ounces of a light white wine like a Vinho Verde, 4 ounces of absinthe, 3 ounces of fresh lemon juice, 2 ounces of honey, and 4 cups of ice. Blend all that up until slushy; you may need to add more ice. Pour into glasses and garnish with umbrellas and straws and maybe a lemon slice.