Industry Trends

Present or Absinthe: How the Classic Spirit is Growing Today

Mar. 6, 2020

It was wildly popular with historical figures like Oscar Wilde and Paul Gaugin, sometimes touted for its alleged medical benefits, and possessed an unmistakable flavor of anise, wormwood, and other aromatics.

Absinthe.

Once upon a time it was banned in the United States, misunderstood and mis-labeled as a psychoactive hallucinogen, but in recent years the spirit has come roaring back to prominence among discerning consumers—perhaps in part thanks to its mysterious reputation. Absinthe today presents a valuable opportunity for businesses to leverage into new sales, both as a singular drinking experience and as an unexpected addition to unique cocktails.

Unexcused Absinthe

In 2007, the United States lifted the longtime ban on absinthe, and in the intervening 13 years, it has found a home among spirits enthusiasts, but was not an immediate success with casual spirits drinkers. However, according to the market research firm Reportlinker, the global market for absinthe is estimated to reach $44.3 billion by 2026, a CAGR of 3.4% from 2019 to 2026 as businesses find new ways to position absinthe for their customers. There are two clear paths for capitalizing on consumer interest in absinthe, whether they are aficionados or neophytes in the world of spirits.

For some consumers, the draw of absinthe is the ritual associated with traditional absinthe service, an ornate incantation, involving a broad-mouthed glass, slotted spoon, sugar cube, and a steady drip of water to sweeten and dilute the green spirit. The ritual, complete with Belle Epoque and Art Deco accoutrements, is a major draw for some, promising a kind of speakeasy-in-a-glass for those patient enough to pull it off.

That same ritual may be a barrier to entry, however, for more casual consumers who are looking for a more accessible, less esoteric drinking experience. Luckily, cocktail artists have been busy over the last 13 years creating new and inviting recipes built around this singular spirit, such as Death in the Afternoon, a mixture of Champagne and absinthe, or the Chrysanthemum, blending dry vermouth, the liqueur Benedictine, and absinthe. Absinthe has also found a home in more traditional cocktails, such as the Absinthe Sazerac or the Absinthe Colada, providing an easy entree into the realm of absinthe.

Death in the Afternoon

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz. absinthe
  • 4 to 6 oz. cold Champagne or sparkling wine

Preparation: Pour absinthe into a chilled Champagne flute. Add Champagne until a milky cloud appears, then serve.

Chrysanthemum

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon absinthe
  • 1 oz. Benedictine liqueur
  • 2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 thin strip orange peel

Preparation: In mixing glass, add together absinthe, Benedictine liqueur, and vermouth. Add ice and stir for one minute, then strain into martini glass. Squeeze orange peel over drink, making sure oils fall into glass, then drop peel into drink and serve.

Sazerac

Ingredients

  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar (or 1 sugar cube)
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • Ice
  • 2 oz. rye whiskey
  • 1/8 teaspoon absinthe
  • Twist of lemon peel for garnish

Preparation: Place sugar in another cocktail glass. Add bitters and a splash of water. Stir to dissolve sugar. Then add ice and whiskey. Take another glass from and rinse it with the absinthe, coating the sides of the glass. (Dump or drink the excess absinthe.) Strain the contents of the whiskey glass into the absinthe glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

Absinthe Colada

Ingredients

  • 1 oz. absinthe
  • .5 oz. rum
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. coconut syrup
  • 1 tsp. Creme de menthe
  • 1 sprig of mint

Preparation: Shake, strain over crushed ice in a Collins or hurricane glass, garnish with slapped mint.

These recipes are the tip of a cocktail iceberg utilizing this unusual, exciting spirit. These recipes not only provide a way to introduce casual consumers to the spirit and its flavor, they’re also a fun way to shake up expectations for classic cocktails with a twist.

Talk to your Breakthru Sales Consultant about how your business can see more green with absinthe this season.

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