“Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.” – Ernest Hemingway (So Red the Nose, or Breath in the Afternoon, 1935)
The name of the drink, Death In The Afternoon, takes on more meaning when it’s noted that Ernest Hemingway was a sober writer in the mornings and not accustomed to drinking late at night. It was in the afternoon when he truly shone.
Taking Hemingway’s original instructions and building on them until I found something actually pleasant to drink was the motif for this redux of the Death In The Afternoon cocktail.
The name is a nod to the original:
“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” – Ernest Hemingway
The World Breaks Everyone
Place Peychaud’s bitters soaked sugar cube into a Boston Shaker (the diabetic Hemingway avoided sugar in his cocktail recipes). Pour in absinthe and lemon juice. Add ice and shake until well blended. Strain into a flute glass. Top with ice-cold J Brut Rosé. Express oil from a lemon peel on top, and serve.
This drink is boozy! It has dancing notes of anise, citrus, fresh biscuit, ripe fruits and a cavalcade of botanicals on the bouquet. After a bracing first sip it becomes a very refreshing drink. I loved the idea of using a creamy off-dry sparkling Pinot/Chardonnay Rosé with a California Absinthe that uses Chardonnay brandy as its base.
Beyond liking how the above listed ingredients worked together, I like that all the ingredients came from within a confined geography.
This is in keeping with how Ernest Hemingway typically consumed cocktails. He wasn’t loyal to anything beyond ice-cold gin martinis. At Finca La Vigia his Cuban home for over 20 years, he drank the ‘Papa Doble’ (Hemingway Daiquiri). In France, it was the Death In The Afternoon. In his book about Hemingway’s drinking habits, Author Philip Greene stated that Hemingway, “thought globally.. drank locally” (To Have And Have Another, 2012)
I avoid the monotonous flavor and bizarre crayon color of La Fee Absinthe to make a Death In The Afternoon. There are many fantastic genuine absinthes from France, Switzerland, North America and beyond to choose from.
Typical of North Americans, I find the ‘Holy Trinity of Absinthe’ – fennel, anise and wormwood – are flavors that don’t always rest comfortably on my palate. While I don’t tend to drink anise-flavored spirits on their own, they make a beautiful addition to many of my favorite drinks. The Corpse Reviver #2, Remember The Maine, Sazerac and even a good Old Fashioned all benefit greatly from adding a hint of absinthe. You get this from ‘washing‘ the glass before service. An ideal tool to have is an atomizer, to mist the glass quickly without wasting any excess spirit.
“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” – Ernest Hemingway