St. Patrick’s Day is Tuesday, so of course I wanted to make a green cocktail. But when it comes to green alcohol there are only a few possibilities: midori, green creme de menthe, and that evil, mind-bending classic, Absinthe. While Absinthe would have been impossible to come by ten years ago, it’s made a huge come back here in the states.
Originally a favorite among artists and authors during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the green elixir was affectionately known as the green fairy. Much like the leprechauns, this cocktail could bring good luck and bad. While it wasn’t known to leave out little pots o’ gold, this fairy was known to elicit images and illusions that made the greatest of tales from the likes of Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allen Poe. But along with the creativity and innovation, this little green fairy also caused quite a bit of strife. Paul Verlaine supposedly shot his lover while under its influence, and it’s believed that Vincent Van Gogh, who constantly painted in a variety of greens, cut off his ear after taking a sip or two.
These occurrences fueled the belief that absinthe caused hallucinations and turned some into raging lunatics which is why it was banned in Switzerland in 1910, the United States in 1912 and France in 1915. St. Patrick’s Day and its own little green men have also been known to create havoc, thanks to all those pints of Guinness and/or green beer that are imbibed in Irish pubs everywhere. So, instead of getting drunk on bad beer, I thought you might prefer to get drunk on a cocktail that was known to bring adventure back in its day. I know I would. And since absinthe was eventually allowed back in the States, there’s no better time to sip it than now.
While the classic way to drink the liqueur is all by itself with water poured over a sugar cube, there are a few other options including the Le Rat Blanc. Although I don’t have a story to go with how this cocktail was created, I do know that it can be found with several other Absinthe-based cocktails in 1946’s Gentleman’s Companion. So, forget about the green beer this year and enjoy the green fairy instead. After all a nymph who’s been around for over a hundred years can’t be all bad… Right?
Le Rat Blanc
- 1-1/2 oz absinthe
- 1/2 oz. ouzo
- Mix both ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously for at least a minute. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.