Happy National Absinthe Day!
National Absinthe Day is March 5th! This notorious elixir has quite the reputation, however, once you get past the “green fairy” stigma, absinthe can be quite an enjoyable experience.
REX 1516 is Philadelphia’s leading restaurant for Southern-inspired, elevated comfort food. They are also known for their exquisite cocktail program, which is helmed by the eatery’s General Mananger and Mixologist, Heather Rodkey. Rodkey recommends celebrating National Absinthe Day by taking a chance on this naturally green and highly alcoholic spirit. While the chemical compound known to cause hallucinations has been banned from the beverage since 1915, drinkers should still consider quaffing this distinct liquor.
“Absinthe can be enjoyed on its own or as a part of a cocktail,” says Heather Rodkey. “When enjoying absinthe it is certainly best consumed with the proper method, which is an entertaining process that adds to its mystique. The anise flavor can be a polarizing flavor, which is why we often use it as an atomizer for drinks such as the Sazerac – a mainstay on our menu at REX 1516.”
Rodkey’s Absinthe Drinking Technique
Proper glassware: an absinthe glass looks almost like an old-fashioned sundae glass but made out of finer crystal.
Slotted spoon: there are many incarnations of the absinthe spoon, ranging from ornate sterling silver to a more functional stainless steel.
Sugar cube (Rodkey recommends Comptoirs Du Sud)
Carafe of chilled water
Absinthe of your choice (Rodkey uses Vieux Carre from Philadelphia Distilling)
Pour 1.5 oz. of absinthe in your glass
Place a sugar cube on your slotted spoon
Pour a steady, fine stream of chilled water over the sugar cube, dissolving as much as possible in the process, into your glass of absinthe.
About 4-5 oz. of water, depending on your tastes
Stir the remainder of the sugar cube in the louche, which is the cloudy, aromatic beverage you will be enjoying.
If looking for a cocktail to test the absinthe waters, Rodkey recommends the Sazerac. Like absinthe, the Sazerac has a rich history dating back to the early 19th century. Originating in New Orleans, some even claim the Sazerac to be the oldest known American cocktail. You can enjoy this cocktail ($12) any day of the week at REX 1516 or replicate their version of this classic.
1 1⁄2 ounce of Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey 2 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
1 sugar cube
1 barspoon of Vieux Carre Absinthe Lemon Peel
Rinse a chilled old-fashioned glass with the absinthe and dump it out. Meanwhile, mix the remaining ingredients (except for the lemon peel) in a separate glass with ice and strain into the absinthe-rinsed glass. Twist the lemon peel over the glass, drop it in and enjoy.