We turn to the fairy drink of Le Belle Epoque. Absinthe has its mysterious allure thanks to the romanticism given it during that golden age. I wrote about its fascinating storied history before, when I discussed the “Wormwood” box by Thomas Cummings. Wormwood, or artemisia absinthium, contains the active compound thujone, which was once thought to be a hallucinogenic. This unlikely effect may or may not have been sought out by the bohemian crowd who fondly referred to the spirit as “The Green Fairy”.

Absinthe is a bitter herbal liqueur made with varied infusions but always containing bitter wormwood and anise which lends its distinctive licorice flavor. It is usually green hued but can be clear. Traditionally, it is served by dripping ice cold water through a sugar cube resting on a special slotted spoon on top of the glass. This produces the most magical effect inside the glass, as non-water soluble compounds (such as anise) are released in wispy, smoky strands and clouds known as the “louche”.


Absinthe can be an acquired taste, but there are a few elegant ways to introduce yourself to its charms. The absinthe frappe is one, and the other is surely a drink which is apropos for this pairing, the Green Fairy. The cocktail is simply an absinthe sour, with fresh lemon juice, sugar, and egg white. A sour is almost always a nice way to experience a new spirit and can open the eyes of the most steadfast doubter. A proper whiskey sour, for example, can change the mind of anyone who thinks they don’t like bourbon. This sour, with absinthe, was created around 1990 by famed London mixologist Dick Bradsell, a man who knew what he was doing, so don’t just take my word for it. Here’s to opening new doors to new experiences. Cheers!


Green Fairy by Dick Bradsell, London, England c. 1990

1 oz absinthe

1 oz lemon

1 oz chilled mineral water

¾ oz sugar syrup (2 sugar to 1 water)

1 dash Angostura bitters

½ oz fresh egg white

Shake without then briefly with ice to chill and strain into a favorite glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and fairy dust.


For more about this magical Fairy Door puzzle see:

Boxes and Booze:Fairy Tale