Absinthe was developed by Dr Pierre Ordinaire during the late 18th century as being a medicinal elixir or tonic. The vital herbal ingredient, wormwood (artemisia absinthium) has been used for thousands of years 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 carries a strong anise flavor as well as a slight bitterness therefore it is best to never serve it using a meal. Nevertheless, Absinthe can be used in cooking, much like wine. When cooking, the alcohol will probably be burned off and you will be left with the anise or licorice taste that is great in marinades. Here is a recipe for a scrumptious 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
Blend each of the ingredients in a large bowl and leave for a couple of hours, ideally overnight. Marinade chicken or fish within the mixture for several hours inside the fridge and after that grill, barbecue or bake to burn off the alcohol.
You can also use Absinthe in stir fries and when basting meats, but make certain you always mix it with sugar or fruit juice to compensate for the bitterness in the wormwood.
Even the sexy French chef Jean-Christophe Novelli has been proven to apply it in his recipes – risottos, Absinthe ice cream and marinades and infusions for vegetables as well as fish. Absinthe ice cream -yum!
There are also a lot of recipes online for Absinthe cookies as well as Absinthe cupcakes with Absinthe frosting. Absinthe has so many uses!
Absinthe is also fantastic in cocktails. Ernest Hemingway developed a cocktail known as “Death in the Afternoon” where he famously combined Absinthe with champagne, very decadent. The Sazerac is actually a popular Absinthe cocktail normally 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 substances into a cocktail shaker, shake and pour into the glass. Garnish using a twist of lemon and drink.
You should know, if you are mixing Absinthe with other alcoholic drinks, that Absinthe is certainly a 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 being an aperitif before any meal, apply it in cocktails, marinades, ice cream and cakes. Experience the Green Fairy.