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The Absinthe Frappe

Taste the drink once believed to cause hallucinations, madness and death

Rebecca Todd
Bakery Bar - Absinthe Frappe

Not every cocktail has a show tune written about it, but the Absinthe Frappé does.In the 1904 Broadway musical It Happened in Nordland were Glen MacDonough’s lyrics to the Victor’s Herbert’s tune, “Absinthe Frappé. One of the verses goes like this:

“It will free you first from the burning thirst That is born of a night of the bowl, Like a sun 'twill rise through the inky skies That so heavily hang o'er your soul. At the first cool sip on your fevered lip You determine to live through the day, Life's again worthwhile as with a dawning smile You imbibe your Absinthe frappé! ” — Victor’s Herbert

Although the song is a product of New York, the concoction itself was invented at the Old Absinthe House bar in New Orleans in 1874 by Cayetano Ferrer. Customers who swore by the strong, icy drink included Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain and General Robert E. Lee.

In 1912, Absinthe was outlawed in the United States because its main ingredient, wormwood extract, was believed to cause hallucinations, madness and even death. As a result of the ban, Pernod and Herbsaint was substituted for Absinthe.

In the end, Absinthe turned out not to be dangerous after all. In 2007, the ban was lifted in the United States and many New Orleans bars went back to the real thing. Order it when you’re here in New Orleans at one of these wonderful locations or try out this recipe at home.

Absinthe Recipe

  • 1 1/2 oz. Absinthe
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 2 oz. soda water
  • 6–8 mint leaves
  • crushed ice

Gently mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and pour.

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