Once again, it’s time for the interweb’s most formerly-illegal-in-the-continental-US drink-making event, this time hosted by Sonja Kassebaum at Thinking of Drinking.  The theme this month is Absinthe, which I have, well, mixed feelings about.  I guess I should take those feelings and turn them into a mixed drink!  Oh, I kill myself.

First off, let me be honest.  I don’t have any absinthe.  Instead, I have a bottle of Herbsaint.  And I am enough of an impoverished student (and use absinthe in small enough quantities) that I am not able to justify putting down $50 on a new bottle while I have a reasonable substitute.  So I hope that Sonja won’t disqualify me from MxMo because of my cheapness (and since I’m now an Illinoisan, I promise I’ll show some local pride and buy Sirene when my circumstances allow).

I started out thinking I would make a variation on a Stinger, the venerable 2/1 liquor/liqueur mix featuring creme de menthe, since absinthe shares a few flavor notes with that.  I know that scotch mixes well with absinthe, so I made Famous Grouse my liquor, and I was off.  To be frank, it was not a success.  The mild scotch disappeared under an onslaught of anise.  Back to the drawing board.

I changed the ratio to 4/1, which was palatable, but a bit flat.  In went some orange bitters, and then, since I wanted some depth, a drop of my homemade clove bitters.  Finally, a little rich simple syrup for mouth feel.  The drink was tasty, but the scotch had definitely disappeared.  I reached for my bottle of Caol Ila and used it for a glass-coating, which brought the smokiness of the scotch back, hard.  I felt it all coming together.  And then I realized I had essentially just made an Improved Scotch Cocktail, which is really not a new drink, except more absinthe-y.  So the takeaway here, I think, is that sometimes you can’t outclever the drunks who lived before the industrial revolution.  Is that a lesson?  Maybe not.

More Improved Scotch Cocktail

  • 2 oz blended scotch (Famous Grouse)
  • 1/2 oz absinthe (Herbsaint)
  • 1-2 tsp rich simple syrup
  • 2 dashes orange bitters (The Bitter Truth)
  • 2 dashes Islay scotch (Caol Ila)
  • 1 dash clove bitters (homemade)
    Combine all ingredients except for the Islay scotch; stir well with ice.  Coat a cocktail glass with the Islay, discarding any excess.  Strain the cocktail into the coated glass.

Yeah, this is nice.  Just not, you know, revolutionary.  But if you like absinthe, and you like scotch, you could do worse.  And some nights that’s good enough.