Phew. 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.