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Here are the top classic absinthe cocktails! This outlawed liquor is now back in good graces, giving reason to try these famous drinks.

Absinthe cocktails
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There’s no liquor with more intrigue than absinthe. Called the “Green Fairy,” this black licorice-flavored liqueur has been ripe with controversy since the early 1900’s. Picasso painted it, and Hemingway created drinks with it. In fact, it was banned in the US and Europe until 2007! Turns out it’s perfectly safe, not unlike any other liquor like gin, vodka, whiskey or tequila. But even today, its aura of mystery still holds.

Here are the top classic absinthe cocktails to make, each with its own unique history and place in the cocktail lexicon. The flavors are as varied as can be, from a sweet tart sours to bubbly champagne cocktails to a boozy drinks from New Orleans. Ready to get sipping?

And now…4 classic absinthe cocktails!

More about absinthe

Absinthe is quite the controversial liquor. In fact, it was illegal in the US for almost 100 years! It was so iconic that famous painters even immortalized it in their paintings (like Picasso). But never fear: scientists of today have determined that absinthe is perfectly safe consumed in moderation. Here’s what to know before grabbing a bottle of absinthe:

  • Absinthe is a green anise-flavored liqueur made from botanicals: wormwood, anise, fennel and other herbs. What does it taste like? It’s herbal with a strong black licorice finish.
  • When was absinthe banned? It was illegal in the US from 1912 to 2007.
  • Is absinthe hallucinogenic? No! But this is why it was illegal in Europe and the US for almost 100 years. It became popular in the 1840s, but started to be mistakenly associated with violent crimes. People started to believe it and had absinthe banned. Modern research has confirmed absinthe is no more harmful than any other alcohol.
  • Why did people claim it was hallucinogenic? It’s possible that cheap, poorly made versions of the drink were responsible for it (source). But it’s a bogus claim that was quickly bolstered by the temperance movement in the 1920’s.
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Death in the afternoon

4 Classic Absinthe Cocktails (Death in the Afternoon & More)

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


Death in the Afternoon is a must-try absinthe cocktail credited to Ernest Hemingway! This easy drink is bubbly with a black licorice finish.


  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) absinthe
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) Champagne or Prosecco


  1. Pour the absinthe and simple syrup into a cocktail glass. Top it off with the sparkling wine.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Poured
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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1 Comment

  1. M Mcg says:

    There was a blight in France that killed the wine industry for a couple years and absinthe took its stead. It got popular as the stand in alcohol while the win industry was recouping. It became so popular that once the wine industry was back up in running their sales weren’t as great as they used to be. A Mass smear campaigns came out against absinthe and it worked.