How to drink absinthe: a guide to meeting the Green Fairy

World Best Bar

Mar 25, 2019

How to drink absinthe: a guide to meeting the Green Fairy
Absinthe, or The Green Fairy, has been blamed for murder, insanity, and the decay of French society. It was banned for almost a century, but the notorious spirit is making a big comeback. It's time to learn how to drink absinthe...

Absinthe has a reputation that’s almost as strong as its alcohol percentage. And it’s all because of a little herb called Wormwood.

Wormwood is the ingredient that gives absinthe its green colour. It’s also meant to trigger hallucinations. But there’s no proof that it actually makes you see things – it could just be that people are a little bit odd when they drink strong alcohol.

By the end of the 19th century, the potent spirit was being blamed for high-profile murders and widespread debauchery. Writers like Oscar Wilde were promoting its mind-altering effects in their novels. Van Gogh had cut his ear off whilst under the influence. In 1905, a Swiss labourer went home, drunk on absinthe, and murdered his wife and children. It wasn’t long until the potent spirit was banned in Belgium, France and the United States.

Before absinthe was thought of as ‘The Devil in a Bottle,’ it was used as a medicine for flatulence and malaria. These days, it’s something in between. It’s a drink to enjoy in moderation.

What is absinthe made of?

Absinthe is a combination of anise, fennel, white grape spirits, and other herbs. It comes in 2 forms: absinthe blanche, and absinthe verte.

It’s produced like gin, and some say that it’s essentially a flavoured vodka. It’s incredibly strong – there’s normally between 55 and 75% of alcohol per serving. That’s why you really shouldn’t just take a shot. You shouldn’t even drink it straight from a glass.

Absinthe is the most mysterious drink that has ever existed, and despite now being legal in most countries, not many people know how to drink it. Here are some ideas…

How to drink absinthe method 1: Traditional

The typical way to drink Absinthe is with cold water and a little syrup to add sweetness. There are variations (yes, really) on this age-old recipe, but here’s one that’s been recommended by Matt Johnson of The Secret Society.


  • 1.5 ounces of absinthe
  • Cold water
  • Syrup (to taste)


  • Pour the absinthe into a glass.
  • Slowly introduce cold water. Enjoy the ‘louche’ effect – when the emerald green liquid transforms into a cloudy colour.
  • Add a little syrup or sugar to taste.

If you want the full ritual à la française, invest in an absinthe fountain, and an absinthe glass and spoon.

How to drink absinthe method 2: In a cocktail

The Long Walk

If absinthe’s aniseed taste is a little much, mix it into a cocktail. Try this method first to ease you in gently.


  • 1.5 oz of tequila
  • 0.75 oz of lemon juice
  • 0.75 oz of Green Chartreuse
  • 0.5 oz of agave syrup
  • 0.25 oz of Pernod absinthe


  • It’s easy, just shake the ingredients with crushed ice.
  • Pour the mix into your glass of choice.

Dr. Funk

Do you like rum? Would you like to like absinthe? Try them together in this fruity combo. It’s inspired by a recipe conjured by Dr. Bernhard Funk, a German mixologist and physician.


  • 1.5 oz of white rum
  • 1 teaspoon of absinthe
  • 0.5 oz of grenadine or fruity cordial
  • 0.75 oz of fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz of soda water


  • It’s simple. Just add all of the ingredients (minus the soda water) into a shaker.
  • Add crushed ice.
  • Shake and strain, and add the soda water at the end.
shaken not stirred

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