February 9th, 2009  |  Published in absinthe, liqueur, recipes  |  5 Comments

ChrysanthemumPhew. It is raining out there today. Well, hailing is probably a better description. Not that I’m complaining, since we can use the precipitation around here. It makes certain chores around the house much more difficult—like keeping mud off the floor—but it also keeps me indoors, near the computer and camera and the giant cabinet of booze that keeps this blog running. So here I am, listening to the Smiths, stoking the fire, and type-type-typing away.

Fortunately for such days, I have a pathological compulsion to squirrel away recipes that interest me. I have pages and pages of bookmarks saved online, not to mention a magazine file stuffed to bursting with magazine clippings, photocopies of library books, you name it. Being too lazy to bother with sifting through the file, I opted for the online route and settled upon—heaven help me—a cocktail resurrected by Camper English from the original in the Savoy Cocktail Book. With the market suffused with absinthes of varying styles, he brought this classic cocktail back to showcase that sudden bounty.

After careful consideration, I wound up choosing to make this with St. George Absinthe Verte—amusingly, the same bottle I picked up while visiting the distillery with Camper. Eventually. After we finished getting lost on the island of Alameda. Which is just another reason you should be wary if invited to go on a car trip with three people who drink alcohol in a professional capacity.

1 teaspoon absinthe
1 oz Bénédictine
2 oz dry vermouth

Stir all ingredients over ice until very cold (one minute) and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist an orange peel over the top to distribute oils and garnish with the spent peel.

As I believe I have mentioned before, I’m an absinthe fan. I love anise and fennel and licorice and yes, even Jägermeister, which is why I bookmarked Camper’s recipe on Epicurious. What really surprised me about this drink was not the flavors, but how they unfolded. The immediate taste is of absinthe, which blends into the herbal and slightly sweet Bénédictine, all of which is followed by a very broad mid-palette of vermouth. Vermouth is in itself herbal, so it holds some of the more vibrant botanical notes of the preceding two. Sit long enough between sips and there is an aftertaste that brings the entire profile together—the effect is ultimately something like a anise pastille with a lovely whiff of orange. This is one of the more interesting and complex cocktails I’ve had lately and I am looking forward to experimenting with different vermouths and absinthes to see how it evolves.


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  1. Stevi Deter says:

    February 10th, 2009at 3:49 pm(#)

    Glad to know I’m not the only one who compulsively adds drinks to delicious. Mine are all here:

    Although lately I’ve been trying to remember to enter them into the Mixo DB instead of bookmarking them!

  2. Marleigh says:

    February 10th, 2009at 5:07 pm(#)

    That sounds entirely too responsible for me, but I am impressed by your dedication. Delicious really is a problem, though. So many recipes, so little time…

  3. Jacquleine Patterson says:

    February 13th, 2009at 2:40 am(#)

    Great to see this cocktail getting further exposure. I put it on my list for the opening of Zinnia in SF in September ’08. I went with a floral themed menu and this drink is absolutely amazing, so surprisingly balanced, aromatic, delicious and lightly alcoholic.

  4. Marleigh says:

    February 13th, 2009at 10:32 am(#)

    It really is a lovely, subtle drink. It sounds like a sort of random mix, but the balance is great. And I do love the name!

  5. The Cocktail Chronicles » MxMo Vermouth: The flower with the power says:

    October 26th, 2009at 10:48 pm(#)

    [...] hardly the first blogger to prepare a Chrysanthemum, but the drink is so damn tasty I hope I’m not the last. As [...]

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