Absinthe was created by Dr Pierre Ordinaire in the late 18th century as a medicinal elixir or tonic. The vital herbal ingredient, wormwood (artemisia absinthium) has been used since ancient times as a digestive tonic and to stimulate the appetite. Absinthe should therefore be served as an aperitif before a meal, an appetizer served with some hors d’oeuvres and finger food.
Absinthe has a strong anise flavor and a slight bitterness so it is best not to serve it with a meal. However, Absinthe can be used in cooking, just like wine. When cooking, the alcohol will be burned off and you will be left with the anise or licorice taste which is great in marinades. Here is a recipe for a tasty marinade for chicken or fish.
2 tbsp dried tarragon or a handful of fresh tarragon
2 tbsp dried chervil or a handful of fresh chervil
1 cup of Absinthe
1 cup of dry white wine
2 tbsp sugar
A dash of salt and a grind of pepper
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and leave for a few hours, preferably overnight. Marinade chicken or fish in the mixture for a couple of hours in the fridge and then grill, barbecue or bake to burn off the alcohol.
You can also use Absinthe in stir fries and when basting meats, but make sure that you always mix it with sugar or fruit juice to compensate for the bitterness of the wormwood.
Even the sexy French chef Jean-Christophe Novelli has been known to use it in his recipes – risottos, Absinthe ice cream and marinades and infusions for vegetables and fish. Absinthe ice cream -yum!
There are also many recipes online for Absinthe cookies and Absinthe cupcakes with Absinthe frosting. Absinthe has so many uses!
Absinthe is also great in cocktails. Ernest Hemingway created a cocktail called “Death in the Afternoon” in which he famously mixed Absinthe with champagne, very decadent. The Sazerac is a popular Absinthe cocktail typically served in New Orleans:-
1 teaspoon of Absinthe
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 ½ ounces of rye whisky
3 dashes of Angostura bitters
Freeze a cocktail glass in the freezer then pour the Absinthe into it, swilling it around to let it coat the inside of the glass.
Put the remaining ingredients into a cocktail shaker, shake and pour into the glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon and drink.
You must remember, when you are mixing Absinthe with other alcoholic drinks, that Absinthe is a very strong liquor – up to 150 proof, 75% alcohol by volume, so don’t get carried away!
So, what food to serve with Absinthe? Serve Absinthe as an aperitif before any meal, use it in cocktails, marinades, ice cream and cakes. Enjoy the Green Fairy.