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Cocktails

5 Great Absinthe Cocktails From Los Angeles Bartenders

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Tue, Dec 3, 2013 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge Chamomile Sazerac - TRATTORIA AMICI AT THE AMERICANA AT BRAND
  • Trattoria Amici at the Americana at Brand
  • Chamomile Sazerac
In 1905, a Swiss fellow named Jean Lanfray murdered his family with a shotgun. His lawyer argued that he was a victim of "absinthe madness" even though he was a habitual alcoholic. The trial became known as the "Absinthe Murder," alcoholism and absinthe-ism became synonymous, and absinthe was banned almost worldwide within the next 10 years. Luckily, the fate of absinthe wasn't sealed forever. Today, its shady past forgiven, it is again being bottled with artistic zeal, and absinthe cocktails dot the menus of many of the city's bars.

In these upcoming weeks of holiday excess, there will be moments when you need a respite -- and the requisite refreshment to go with it. Despite its image as a murder maker and hallucinogen (neither of them based in fact), absinthe is the ideal digestive tipple to soothe your stomach. In fact, its anise-licorice-fennel base has long been known to have health benefits to the immune system, especially the liver. Whether it's poured into or misted over a glass, absinthe adds both an invigorating and a comforting element to modern cocktails. Here are five drinks that use absinthe to create refreshing, intense and calming concoctions for a season when madness is always a possibility.

click to enlarge London Fog at Black Market Liquor Bar - LJ SOLMONSON
  • LJ Solmonson
  • London Fog at Black Market Liquor Bar
5. Black Market Liquor Bar

With its curved brick ceiling and dimly lit interior, Black Market Liquor Bar is a moody escape from L.A.'s bustle. Transport yourself by ordering an off-the-menu London Fog, whose greenish color is meant to resemble the soupy green fog of old Londontown. Pea soup very much aside, this cocktail is a refreshing long drink whose mist of absinthe imparts a lovely whiff of anise that complements the drink's gin aromatics. It's basically a gin buck (gin, ginger beer, lime), but the absinthe takes it in a uniquely different direction. And while this cooler might seem more at home at a summer lawn party, there's a brooding depth to the flavors that's fully at home in the winter chill. 11915 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; 818-446-2533.

click to enlarge What the Frequency - COMME CA
  • Comme Ca
  • What the Frequency
4. Comme Ça

As many people shy away from the basic flavor of absinthe, Tim Loden of Comme Ça wanted to create an absinthe drink that "featured the flavors of the spirit but didn't overpower and scare people away." Half an ounce of Vieux Carre absinthe marries with half an ounce of vodka, a neutral flavor adding a bit more of an alcoholic kick. The orange-y bitterness of the digestif Aperol, which is similar to Campari, complements the full ounce of house-made curacao (equal parts Bauchant liqueur and simple syrup) as well as lemon juice. Topped with crushed ice, this drink does exactly what Loden wanted it to do: "Bring absinthe out of the dimly lit taverns of yore." 8479 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd.; 323-782-1104.

See also: The Green Hour and Absinthe 101 at Kendall's Brasserie

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