By Allen Pierleoni
The potent, herbal, anise-and-fennel-flavored liquor known as absinthe has long been shrouded in mystery and myth.
Its roots go back to 1797, when the first absinthe distillery opened in Switzerland, making what was then considered a medicinal elixir. Absinthe gained and waned in popularity, until by 1915 its sales were forbidden in the U.S., France and Switzerland.
After a lobby campaign to separate absinthe fact from absinthe fiction, on March 5 2007 Lucid Absinthe Superieure became "the first authentic absinthe imported into the United States."
The liquor's restored reputation has led to its growing popularity, to the point that absinthe-centric bars have opened in Brooklyn (Maison Premiere oyster bar) and Miami Beach (La Fee Verte "burlesque house"). And let's not forget the vintage Olde Absinthe House in New Orleans.
To celebrate absinthe's re-entry into the U.S., the Lucid brand has declared March 5 National Absinthe Day. Yeah, that can be considered rather self-serving, but at least it gives absinthe-lovers a reason to try these two cocktails, complements of Lucid (www.drinklucid.com).
For more absinthe-based cocktail recipes, look at "A Taste for Absinthe" by R. Winston Guthrie (Clarkson Potter, $24.99, 176 pages).
2 ounces absinthe
Dash of simple syrup
6 to 8 mint leaves and sprig
Splash of club soda
Muddle mint leaves in the bottom of a frappÃ©-style glass. Add absinthe and simple syrup, and fill with crushed ice. Pour the mixture into a shaker and shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker begins to frost. Pour contents into the glass, top with a splash of club soda and garnish with mint sprig.
1.5 ounces absinthe
Half-ounce simple syrup
Muddle two cucumber wheels and two peeled kiwi wheels with the simple syrup in a double rocks glass. Fill with ice and add absinthe. Top with club soda. Garnish with an unpeeled kiwi wheel on the rim of the glass.
Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni at (916) 321-1128.