DIP, DIP, DIP
Fee Verte tales or Belle Epoque tendencies aside, the ritual of drinking Absinthe is perhaps one of the most indulgent and involved, alcohol-related experiences out there.
From the almost mentholated, minty scent to the first piquant sip, you know you're in for quite the ride...
Some people boast of doing Absinthe shots, as one would with Tequila. Seeing as how I am no fan of alcohol poisoning, I generally follow the traditional Absinthe ritual, which calls for a sugar cube and equal - or more - parts of beastly cold water, to one tiny part of the eerily green drink.
In the traditional vein, it makes for a rather intoxicating and delightful drink. But even diluted and louched with the sugar cube, the actual taste of Absinthe is difficult to mask, and one can still feel that incredible burning sensation as it passes the lips and courses through the body.
Yes, it's that strong, and it burns like hell...
Which got me to thinking about Mauby, the equally strong and bitter West Indian drink that my Grandmother swore was the perfect cooling antidote to the blistering hot Trinidadian days.
If the non-alcoholic Mauby was so 'cooling', maybe it could have a similar effect with Absinthe, no?
And given that most of the purportedly faithful blends of Absinthe are made from wormwood bark and boasts of a common ingredient with Mauby - the star Anise - I thought it was more than worth a try.
Thus I brewed a pot of Mauby, gathered my Absinthe paraphernalia, and got to mixing what has turned out to be a wickedly smooth and decadent way to enjoy the famed Green Fairy...
Au Courant's Absinthe + Mauby
For the Absinthe
Bottle of Grande Absente (The proof, Distillers and Thujone levels will vary based on where you can legally buy Absinthe, but most will be very strong).
Sugar Cubes (I use the regular Domino brand)
Very cold cup of brewed and lightly sweetened Mauby Drink/Juice.
Highball or measured Absinthe Glass
Absinthe Spoon or Fork
For the Mauby
Star Anise + loose Anise seeds
Two Bay Leafs
One small Cinnamon bark
Start with the Mauby: in a small pot of 2-3 cups of water, bring the washed Mauby bark (should be about 5/6 sticks) along with the Cinnamon, Bayleaf, Star Anise and the loose Anise seeds to a boil on a high flame.
Once it's boiling, turn off the fire, and leave the Mauby mix to brew in the pot overnight, or for at least 3 hours. After the mix has cooled, add about 1 cup of the brew to a full jug (about 6-7 cups) of water and sweeten to taste.
Note - the brew will be very, very bitter in its unsweetened state, so add less to the jug for weaker Mauby Drink, or more for a stronger taste.
The Absinthe Ritual: in the Highball or Absinthe Glass, pour about a capful or two of Absinthe. Following the above images, place the fork or Absinthe spoon over the glass, and rest the sugar cube on top.
Make sure the cold Mauby drink is in a vessel with a spout, nozzle or dripper; this makes it easy to pour the Mauby over the sugar cube in a controlled manner, which is important for the louche.
Slowly pour the Mauby over the sugar cube, and once the Mauby is cold enough, you will notice the louche effect, or the change in Absinthe colour from bright green to the opalescent tone.
Mix any remaining sugar into the Absinthe glass and enjoy!
Note, you don't have to include the actual Mauby bark in the Mauby or the final Absinthe drink, if you don't want to...
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