The Absinthe Frappe, a classic New Orleans cocktail, is timeless. However, the boozy, green, anise-flavored beverage requires a special palate. Follow our easy Absinthe Frappe recipe and see if you’re up to the taste challenge.
We weren’t the first to sip an Absinthe Frappe in New Orleans.
Legend has it that Robert E. Lee, Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde all imbibed the refreshing potent potable in the 19th century – a time when absinthe flowed freely in New Orleans bars. While prohibition and a ban on absinthe stopped the flow for almost a century, this classic cocktail is back and it’s as refreshing and potent as ever.
What Is the Absinthe Frappe?
Don’t underestimate the Absinthe Frappe.
Simple to craft and with roots in New Orleans, the pre-prohibition cocktail looks fun with its green color and preponderance of crushed ice. However, the Absinthe Frappe packs a wallop thanks to its main ingredient – absinthe.
We’re not exaggerating when we say that the Absinthe Frappe is potent. Absinthe, the drink’s primary ingredient, has an ABV that can be as high as 70%. As for its neon green color, seeing is believing.
The Absinthe Frappe’s potency isn’t a bad thing but we suggest moderation. After all, this classic cocktail was iconic enough in its heyday to inspire a song called Absinthe Frappe in the Broadway show It Happened in Nordland.
The lyrics in that 1904 song promise to make life worthwhile again after just one sip. While we can’t promise the same with our classic Absinthe Frappe recipe, we certainly hope that the drink takes you on a boozy ride.
History of the Absinthe Frappe
Drinking an Absinthe Frappe at the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street is like taking a trip back in time.
Cayetano Ferrer invented the green tipple in 1874 at this very space. Originally called Aleix’s Coffee House, the bar eventually changed its name to Old Absinthe House based on the popularity of the refreshing cocktail’s main ingredient. Talk about the tail wagging the dog!
The Absinthe Frappe fell out of favor from 1912 to 2007. During these years, absinthe was banned in the United States due to fear that wormwood extract, formerly a key component of absinthe, caused madness.
Although fears of absinthe causing madness have abated, the green elixir’s modern iteration has a reduced level of thujone, the active chemical in wormwood.
Banned for almost a century, absinthe isn’t as popular as vodka or rum. But those who like anise-flavored liqueurs like Pastis and Herbsaint will enjoy drinking Absinthe Frappes blended with absinthe, simple syrup, soda water, mint leaves and crushed ice.
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Absinthe Frappe Ingredients
The Absinthe Frappe lives up to its classic cocktail status with its short and sweet ingredient list. Emulating the Absinthe House’s original recipe, our Absinthe Frappe recipe has the following ingredients:
Absinthe is the one ingredient that you may need to make a special effort to procure. However, finding absinthe at a liquor store shouldn’t be a big challenge. It’s been well over a decade since the ban on this liquor was lifted in America.
Save money by making simple syrup from scratch. It’s as easy as boiling water and sugar in a 1:1 ratio until the sugar dissolves. Make sure you stir frequently so that the sugar doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Let the syrup cool before covering and storing in an airtight container.
We purchased a bottle of Absente 55 Absinthe for a few reasons. First, we wanted absinthe with a green hue so that our Absinthe Frappe would be green. Second, we wanted French absinthe. And, third, the relatively low ABV of 55% appealed to us.
Absente 55 Absinthe isn’t as green we thought it would be but we’re okay with that. Neon drinks are highly overrated. We’re more into flavor and this absinthe hit the right notes.
How To Craft an Absinthe Frappe Cocktail
You don’t need any special bar tools to craft an Absinthe Frappe (or two) at home. The recipe is surprisingly easy despite its fancy name.
We use a Japanese jigger , cocktail strainer and Boston shaker in our recipe but you can improvise if you’re missing any or all of these bar tools.
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The first step is to measure the absinthe and simple syrup. We use a Japanese jigger to measure both liquids to insure accurate measurements and avoid spillage.
Purchase a Japanese jigger from Amazon if you don’t have a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.
Pour the two liquids into a shaker immediately after you measure each. We use a Boston shaker to craft this and other drinks. While we have other shakers, this one never leaks and is easiest to clean.
Purchase a Boston Shaker from Amazon if you don’t have a shaker or want an inexpensive upgrade.
The next step is to add ice and vigorously shake the absinthe and simple syrup.
After 10 to 20 seconds of vigorous shaking, strain the chilled ingredients into a lowball glass that you’ve prefilled halfway with crushed ice.
Splash in some sparkling water.
Top with additional crushed ice and add a handful of mint leaves as garnish.
Absinthe Frappe Alternatives
Not everybody loves the anisette flavor of absinthe. Those who do will want to experiment beyond the Absinthe Frappe. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Absinthe Frappe FAQs
The Absinthe Frappe is a potent pre-prohibition potable crafted with absinthe and simple syrup.
The Absinthe Frappe was invented in New Orleans.
The Old Absinthe House is the bar most associated with the Absinthe Frappe cocktail. This bar is located on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter.
Absinthe, Simple Syrup, Sparkling Water, Crushed Ice, Ice Cubes (for shaking) and Mint Leaves (garnish)
The Absinthe Frappe is shaken, not stirred .
We like to serve this cocktail in a lowball glass and you should do the same.
Absinthe Frappe Recipe
The Absinthe Frappe may be a classic New Orleans cocktail, but you can craft the refreshing potent potable at home in just five minutes.
- 2 ounces absinthe
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 2 ounces sparkling water
- 6 mint leaves
- crushed ice
- ice cubes
- Combine absinthe and simple sugar in a shaker.
- Shake vigorously for 10 seconds with ice until the ingredients are chilled and blended.
- Strain into a lowball or rocks glass half-filled with crushed ice.
- Add a splash of sparkling water.
- Top off with more crushed ice.
- Garnish with fresh mint leaves.
- You can replace the club soda or seltzer instead of sparkling water.
- You can replace the absinthe with Pastis or Herbsaint.
- You can use a larger glass if you want an icier beverage.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: January 26, 2022