A particularly infamous green drink has inspired Picasso’s artwork, fueled the writing of Oscar Wilde and contributed to prodigious hangovers for centuries. Reports of absinthe’s famed hallucinogenic properties are false, but with an alcohol percentage twice as powerful as vodka, it’s still meant to be sipped slowly. Luckily, the lifting of an American absinthe ban in 2007 sparked a new wave of consumption in cocktail bars across the country, making the liquor more accessible than ever. Here are five bars that make absinthe drinks worth celebrating.
The moodily lit, refurbished storage room nestled in the back of L.A.’s oldest public house is the perfect setting for a night of faux-illicit indulgence. The Improved Whiskey Cocktail is improved with absinthe, then mixed with bitters, maraschino and rye for a smooth finish. Bonus: Cole’s is perfectly positioned to soak up a night of booze with a famous French dip sandwich.
118 E. Sixth St., downtown. (213) 265-7089, 213hospitality.com/project/the-varnish/.
The Roger Room
Is swanky dive an oxymoron? At Roger Room, the term is oddly fitting. There, you kick off a midday bout of drinking with a glass of Death in the Afternoon, a light combination of prosecco and Pernod absinthe, which has been made by France’s first commercial absinthe facility since 1805. Then, get more acquainted with the Green Fairy, a frothy combination of egg whites, Angostura bitters, lemon juice and aptly named Lucid absinthe. Grab a glass and drink in the vintage freak show photos that line the walls.
370 La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 854-1300, therogerroom.com.
The Thirsty Crow
This Silver Lake spot may focus on whiskey, but its absinthe cocktail is not to be missed. Many cocktail bars utilize an absinthe rinse, where the liquor is swirled and removed from a glass to lend a lingering layer of aromatic complexity. At the Thirsty Crow, the Re-Animator drink layers an absinthe rinse with Bond St. Gin, Brovo rosé, vermouth, Luxardo maraschino liqueur and lemon juice.
2939 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. (323) 661-6007, thirstycrowbar.com.
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A 100-year-old private power plant tucked into the historic Higgins Building is transformed into a nightlife destination with seven varieties of absinthe. Try a glass of La Clandestine label, created in an area of Switzerland known as the “birthplace of absinthe” and based on a recipe refined during the 100-year period of the drink’s prohibition. It’s the perfect beverage to sip while watching aeralists soar through the high-ceilinged industrial cathedral.
108 W. Second St., downtown. (213) 613-0000, edisondowntown.com.
The Other Door
The Other Door offers one of the most extensive absinthe cocktail lists in L.A., but for a true mix of bohemian and bourgeoisie, spring for the absinthe bottle service. Or, plan your visit around the monthly tasting session, which serves as a great introduction to the green fairy. The “absinthe adventure” features labels like the award-winning Jade Esprit Edouard and Colorado distillery Leopold Brothers, bringing a mix of classic and modern flavors. The next tasting is March 26.
10437 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood. (818) 508-7008, theotherdoorbar.com.