Category Archives: absinthe

Blackthorn

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Ages ago I was given a neat little dark-blue tome called The Architecture of the Cocktail, which I snobbishly dismissed as a little more than a gimmick; the book’s illustrations are designed to look like blueprints, lending it a serious, mathematical vibe; there’s no warm, inviting photos; and at first glance it looks like one of those smugly superior books that’s mighty clever but irritating to follow.

I shelved it and thought I would never use it.

How wrong I was.

This has become one of my favourite cocktail books for precisely the reasons I initially disliked it. The recipes are easy to follow; the lack of photos means it hasn’t dated badly (the Savoy Cocktail Book doesn’t have photos, either); and the concise preamble to each cocktail is a joy to read.

In other words, it’s small, but it packs a punch. Just like the Blackthorn.

The Blackthorn takes the absinthe rinse of a Sazerac, marries it with the balanced, simple nature of a Manhattan, and then plays havoc with genetics, swapping the Manhattan’s rye whiskey for Irish and its sweet vermouth for dry. I don’t know if that makes it a lovechild or a bastard cousin of the aforementioned classic cocktails, but I figure it gives me a bit of leeway with it – at least, that’s my excuse for switching Irish whiskey for Scotch, and using the wrong glassware to boot.

No matter if you follow the original recipe or my off-plan one, if you like Sazeracs and Manhattans, you will love this strong, slightly bitter, anise-laced drink.

INGREDIENTS

2 dashes absinthe (I figured this meant half a teaspoon, but I’m sure some people would use less)

45ml Irish whiskey (I used Scotch and it still tasted good, but I’m keen to try it with Irish next time)

30ml dry vermouth

2 dashes Angostura bitters

lemon peel, to garnish

GLASS

Cocktail glass, chilled (I used a chilled tumbler)

METHOD

Pour the absinthe into the glass and swirl it about gently so the absinthe coats the glass. Tip out any excess.

Half fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the whiskey, vermouth and Angostura and stir well to combine. Strain into the glass. Gently peel a long piece of lemon peel (avoiding the pith) over the glass and drop it in to garnish.

RECIPE BY

I butchered this recipe, and it still worked. So here’s cheers to the original recipe, which appears in The Architecture of the Cocktail by Amy Zavatto (Harper Collins, 2013).

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Corpse Reviver no 2

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Maybe it’s too early to call it, but Ten Cocktails (Saltyard Books, 2105) by drinks journalist Alice Lascelles could well be my very favourite cocktail book of the year. It’s beautifully presented, fascinating and leaves you wanting more – just like a great cocktail. The title is a bit misleading, as the book covers more than 10 cocktails (there are lots of recipes, plus the stories and histories behind various drinks, hints on how to make them, and Lascelles’ musings on wine- and spirit- tastings), but hey, that’s hardly a bad thing. If your interest in cocktails extends beyond just drinking them, I highly recommend you grab a copy. Reading Lascelles’ light yet informative writing is a bit like having a chat with a very knowledgeable bartender; it’s even better if you read it with a drink in hand, such as the Corpse Reviver no 2 that’s detailed in the book.

The oddly named Corpse Reviver no 2* was invented by another super cool drinks writer, Harry Craddock (yep, the bartender behind The Savoy Cocktail Book). For such a gruesomely named drink, it’s surprisingly light and nuanced, and not the kind of thing you’d serve at a Halloween party at all, unless you were having a terribly sophisticated Halloween party in which no one dressed as a ‘naughty nurse’ and your theme, instead of ‘how to wear a bedsheet and wail like a ghost,’ was ‘how to get three sheets to the wind and then nail your host,’ which doesn’t sound particularly elegant but does serve to illustrate that this drink, which also doesn’t sound particularly elegant, is strong – strong enough to revive a corpse, perhaps. You have been warned.

INGREDIENTS

25ml gin

25ml Lillet Blanc

25ml Cointreau

25ml lemon juice (strained to remove pips and pulp)

5 ml absinthe

GLASS

Chilled coupe

METHOD

Shake the ingredients with lots of ice and strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with a lemon or lime twist.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

As enjoyable to make and drink as it is to read about.

RECIPE BY

The original recipe is by Harry Craddock. This version appears in  Ten Cocktails (Saltyard Books, 2105) by Alice Lascelles.

*Wanna know why this recipe is ‘no 2’? Then buy the book!!

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