I got the absinthe in the Caribbean on vacation. I wasn’t trying to get wild with the green fairy; I didn’t want to hallucinate, or go on a bender that resulted in me cutting off my ear and mailing it to someone.
(That totally happened to Van Gogh, but he painted like, really well, and I only write kind of okay.)
What I wanted was to start a collection, a liquor collection, and what better way to start than with something with such an amazing reputation? I stared at it’s glowing green loveliness on my shelf filled with sorority shot glasses and beat up mounted tap handles and I decided that I would take this project one liquor at a time. I would get to know each one as I bought it and master at least one perfect drink.
I suppose I consider myself a bartender. I have worked in bars for as long as I can remember, but my specialty over the years has come to be beer. I love beer, I know beer, beer has seen me through some of my darkest and brightest days. I could talk about beer for hours.
I’ve always know that liquor wasn’t exactly my strong point, but I have never really been in the proper place to explore it.
Watching the bartenders at Eastern Standard the other night I began to really become inspired. They weren’t bartending with flair for a show, or out of necessity or speed, but with a serious love of mixology; eggs suddenly blended with ginger and lemon liquor (King’s Ginger) and Angostura bitters to make a spicy drink (the Flip Royal) that just left me speechless. This was a craft, an art, a language, and I wanted nothing more than to speak it.
The absinthe stared at me in the pantry in my bartender’s corner for a few weeks before I really decided to get to work. I had collected what I would need to serve it properly: I had an absinthe spoon, a box of sugar cubes, a larger rocks glass and my bottle of absinthe. The spoon is grated, allowing the sugar cube to sit upon it, and ever so slowly you allow ice cold water to trickle over the cube and through the grates and into the glass of absinthe.
The cold water hits the room temperature liquor and it clouds, slowly, like a lava lamp.
For a bit of a trick, I pour the absinthe over the cube first and light the cube on fire; it makes the sugar drip into the drink, and it is like this that I am discovered by my roommate, holding a lighter over a flaming spoon alone at 3pm. Awesome.