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Absinthe Minded


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Photography courtesy of www.mitchtobias.com

News from the world of spirits and cocktails rarely makes headlines, but 2007 saw a notable exception: Absinthe is back. This mysterious and legendary spirit has been outlawed in the United States since the early 1900s, but in the past decade, its popularity surged. A bottle of absinthe smuggled from Britain or the Czech Republic was a badge of honor for any serious drinkophile.

Now, thanks to a series of legal maneuvers exposing the silliness of the original ban—the sage leaf on your saltimbocca contains more of the controversial ingredient thujone than does absinthe—a few brands of absinthe were released recently on the U.S. market, including Lucid, from France, Kübler, from Switzerland, and St. George Absinthe Verte, from our very own East Bay.

As we learned from bar guru Erik Adkins, who composed the extraordinary drink list at Flora, the downtown Oakland restaurant recently opened by the owners of Doña Tomás, absinthe needn’t be confined to its misty past. Well-conceived cocktails such as the herb-and-citrus scented Corpse Reviver No. 2, originally served at the American Bar at London’s Savoy and currently on the list at Flora, demonstrate the point.

Corpse Reviver No. 2

    Several drops absinthe
    3/4    ounce gin
    3/4    ounce Cointreau
    3/4    ounce Lillet Blanc
    3/4    ounce freshly squeezed
              lemon juice

Put several drops of absinthe in a coupe glass (a wide, shallow champagne glass), or use a martini glass, swirling the glass to completely coat the inside with absinthe. Measure gin, Cointreau, Lillet, and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake very well and strain into the glass with the absinthe. Serve at once.

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