It was great to see last week's absinthe column by the New York Times' Eric Asimov. It was also great to be mentioned in his corresponding blog post. Just before the column ran, he came into town for a couple of nights, and on one of them I took him round to a couple of bars and later for dinner at RN74.
When we stopped in at Alembic, it was naturally an absinthe cocktail—the Promissory Note—that caught Eric's eye. A model of balance and restraint, the drink uses absinthe in a minor role, but thanks to bartender Daniel Hyatt's skill, it still rings through.
So what are some other great absinthe cocktails in town? Here are a few of my favorites:
Beretta: Dolores Park Swizzle (rum, lime, maraschino, absinthe, bitters)
Heaven's Dog: Remember the Maine (rye whiskey, italian vermouth, cherry brandy, absinthe)
Absinthe (of course): Sacred Heart (La Pinta pomegranate tequila, absinthe, limoncello, lemon juice)
Incidentally, Asimov's column listed a ranking of absinthes as done by the NYT tasting panel. While I was disappointed that our own (well, Alameda's) St. George Spirits' absinthe only came in fourth out of 20, I was happy that Asimov certainly seemed to "get" it, writing that it "offered greater complexity, with more pronounced floral and herbal flavors, and less focus on anise. Absinthe connoisseurs often seem to prefer these to the bottles that we favored." It's true. The St. George is great stuff—more complex than any other absinthe out there, but perhaps not as accessible and easy to love as some of the simpler brands.