absinthe cocktail with ice and mint and liquor bottle

How to Drink Absinthe: Explore the Mystery

Absinthe is a highly potent and aromatic alcoholic beverage renowned for its association with artists, writers, and bohemian culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is often called the “Green Fairy” due to its vibrant green color and its reputation for inspiring creativity and hallucinations. However, these effects have been largely debunked as myths.

Absinthe is typically known for its unique taste, preparation ritual, and its storied history.

What Is Absinthe?

Absinthe is made from a base spirit, which is usually a neutral alcohol like grain alcohol or grape brandy, and it is flavored with a variety of botanicals, most notably wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), which gives the drink its distinctive flavor and name.

Other herbs and spices such as anise, fennel, hyssop, and coriander are also commonly used to produce absinthe. Combining these botanicals creates a complex and herbal flavor profile with a pronounced anise/licorice undertone.

What Is the Alcohol Content of Absinthe?

The alcohol content of absinthe can vary, but it typically falls within the range of 45% to 74% alcohol by volume (ABV). This high alcohol content is one of the defining characteristics of absinthe and contributes to its strong and intense flavor. Traditional absinthe is often bottled at around 55-72% ABV, but some variations and modern productions may be slightly lower in alcohol content.

How to Serve Absinthe?

The most common and traditional method for serving absinthe is as follows:

  • Pour an ounce of absinthe into a glass, often called an absinthe glass or reservoir glass.
  • Place a slotted absinthe spoon over the glass, with a sugar cube resting on the spoon.
  • Slowly drip ice-cold water over the sugar cube to dilute the absinthe. You typically want to add 3 to 5 parts water for every 1 part of absinthe.
  • As the water is added, the absinthe will turn cloudy and begin to release its herbal flavors. Stir the mixture gently to ensure the sugar dissolves completely.
  • Once properly diluted, the absinthe can be enjoyed sip by sip.

The exact ratio of water to absinthe can be adjusted according to personal taste, but the traditional method typically results in a final alcohol content of around 15-20% ABV, which is similar to the alcohol content of wine.

What Is a Serving Size of Absinthe?

The typical serving size for absinthe is a single-ounce shot diluted with water. You can, of course, have more, but it’s worth remembering that absinthe is a high-proof spirit and should be enjoyed in moderation.

Can You Drink Absinthe Straight?

You can drink absinthe straight, but keep in mind that absinthe has a very strong and distinctive flavor profile, which includes a pronounced anise/licorice taste. Drinking it neat or straight can be quite intense for many people, especially if they are not accustomed to its flavor or the high alcohol content.

What Are the Best Mixers for Absinthe?

The simplest mixer for absinthe is cold water. Slowly adding water to absinthe in the traditional preparation method not only dilutes the spirit but also releases its aromatic compounds, creating a louche (cloudy) effect and mellowing the strong flavors.

A touch of sugar syrup can be added to absinthe to sweeten it slightly and balance its bitterness. This is especially common in cocktails like the Sazerac, where a sugar cube is muddled with bitters and then mixed with absinthe.

Lemon or lime juice can provide a refreshing citrusy contrast to absinthe’s herbal notes. Some cocktails incorporate citrus to brighten the flavor profile.

Mixing absinthe with sparkling water or soda water can create a refreshing and effervescent drink. It’s a simple way to enjoy absinthe with a bit of fizz and a milder flavor profile.

What Other Liquors Go Well With Absinthe?

Absinthe is a distinctive and strongly flavored spirit with a pronounced anise and herbal profile, so it can be challenging to pair with other liquors in the same way you might pair more neutral spirits like vodka or gin.

It’s also important to remember that absinthe is a potent spirit, so when using it in cocktails, you definitely need to measure and use it sparingly to avoid overpowering the other flavors. Additionally, because of its unique profile, absinthe can be an acquired taste, so experimenting with different combinations to find what you enjoy most is the best way forward. For example, you might enjoy the sweet and sour taste of limoncello alongside absinthe.

What Are the Best Absinthe Recipes?

Here are our top cocktail recipes featuring Absinthe as the star ingredient.

Absinthe Frappé


  • 2 oz Absinthe
  • ½ oz Simple syrup
  • 2-3 dashes Anisette liqueur
  • Soda water to top up


Combine absinthe, simple syrup, anisette, and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake well for 30 seconds. Strain the cocktail into a glass over crushed ice and top up with soda water.

Garnish: Mint sprigs, lime slice, lemon slice

Subs: Swap out simple syrup for cane sugar syrup. Choose sparkling water, club soda, or any seltzer to top up your drink.



  • 1 oz Absinthe
  • 2 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 2 oz Sweet Vermouth


Mix all ingredients together in a glass with ice. Strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish: Orange slice, lemon slice

Substitutes: Trying adding some orange bitters for a different flavor



  • ½ oz Absinthe
  • ½ oz Simple syrups
  • 2 oz Whiskey
  • Peychaud’s bitters
  • 1 oz Cold water


Take a chilled old-fashioned glass, coat the inside with absinthe, and leave it to sit. Combine whiskey, simple syrup, and bitters in a jug with ice and cold water and stir well—strain into the old-fashioned glass.

Garnish: Orange peel, lemon peel

Substitutes: For a different twist, try adding a flavored syrup or liqueur, such as pumpkin spice, banana, or golden syrup

Stars & Stripes


  • ¼ oz Absinthe
  • 1 oz Blueberry vodka
  • ¼ oz Simple syrup
  • ¼ oz Fresh lemon juice
  • 5 Blueberries
  • Raspberry brandy to drizzle
  • Ginger beer to top up


Muddle the blueberries and add them to a cocktail shaker with the absinthe, vodka, simple syrup, lemon juice, and ice – shake well until chilled. Pour into a chilled highball glass, top with ginger beer, and finish with a drizzle of raspberry brandy.

Garnish: Sugar cube, blueberries, strawberries, lemon slice

Substitutes: Try muddling some strawberries, raspberries, or blackberrie; swap the blueberry vodka for another fruit-flavored vodka.

How to Prevent an Absinthe Hangover?

Thujone, a compound found in wormwood, was once thought to be responsible for absinthe’s alleged hallucinogenic effects and hangovers. While modern regulations restrict thujone levels in absinthe, you can look for brands that adhere to these standards to minimize potential side effects.

The most effective way to avoid a hangover is to drink absinthe in moderation. Absinthe has a high alcohol content, so pace yourself and be mindful of your consumption. Stick to recommended serving sizes and avoid excessive drinking.

Savoring the Mystique of Absinthe

row of absinthe shots with garnishes

Absinthe, the legendary ‘Green Fairy,’ is a spirit that has captivated the imaginations of artists, writers, and cocktail enthusiasts for generations. With its vibrant green hue, strong anise flavor, and unique preparation ritual, absinthe remains an intriguing and iconic drink with a rich history.

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