Thursday, 17 December 2009

Absinthe around the World Late 2009: 8

For my last article looking at absinthe events around the world in late 2009, I've opted to get away from snow-covered Europe and North-East USA. While the beautiful panoramas are good for getting us in the holiday mood, I, for one, long for the warmth of the tropics.

I'm also going to focus on cocktails, including several new creations. Some absinthe lovers are not totally convinced that absinthe should be discovered via cocktails, feeling that the complexity of a great absinthe is best discovered with just the addition of water. Given the apparent involvement of Toulouse-Lautrec in the creation of the Tremblement de Terre cocktail (absinthe and cognac) and of Ernest Hemingway in the creation of Death in the Afternoon (absinthe and champagne), and given the 104 absinthe cocktails in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, I firmly believe that cocktails are a legitimate and perfect way to discover absinthe.

But in the tropics? Well, while the tropics may not be thought of as typical absinthe territory, and while Westerners may consider their own mixologists and bar scenes to be the best, there are some very pleasant surprises to be found in South-East Asia. Papa's Tapas in Thailand has a wide range of absinthes, including La Clandestine, Angélique and the Jades. Several bars in Singapore stock a large range of absinthes (not all of the highest quality, it must be said). And in Malaysia, absinthes are developing a strong following across most sectors of the on-trade.

The latest developments there have been reported in at least two Malaysian blogs: the Juice Online Blog and the Thirsty Blogger Blog, as well as in the largest English-language newspaper in Malaysia, the New Straits Times.

The event covered was the launch of absinthe at one of Asia's top bars: the Sky Bar at the Traders Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. And local mixologist, Ben Ng, was on hand to create several amazing new cocktails. Ben is very cosmopolitan in his outlook, approach and creativity and has worked for a number of spirit brands across Asia.

Ben's first creation:

Winter Whisper

30ml Vodka
20ml La Clandestine Absinthe
10ml Monin Gingerbread Syrup
Orange Rind
Dark chocolate Cookie Crumbs

Rim martini glass with vanilla syrup and dark chocolate cookie crumbs. Mix rest of ingredients into a mixing glass and stir. Fine strain into the rimmed martini glass. Garnish with orange rind.

Ben's version of the ...


4 nos Lime Wedge
30ml Vodka
20ml La Clandestine Absinthe
30ml Sugar Syrup
15ml Boiron Passion Fruit Puree
1/4 Fresh Passion Fruit (local)

Muddle limes and add rest of ingredients with ice into a shaker and shake. Strain into ice filled glass and garnish with a passion fruit quarter.

Ben Ng, at work ...

making a ....

Bramble Ramble

2 nos Blackberry Fruit
30ml Vodka
20ml La Clandestine Absinthe
20ml Monin Vanilla Syrup
1 nos Grapefruit Quarter

Muddle blackberry fruit, add rest of ingredients with crushed ice and STIR. Top with more crushed ice and garnish with 2 raspberry fruit.

This ...

is probably the best-looking Death in the Afternoon I have ever seen.

Of course, the Sky Bar is not the only great bar in KL, so I was interested to read another Malaysian blog, writing about The Library, and their cocktails, including these:

The Fucking Awesome (Frangelico, Mozart White, Mozart Dark, Amarula, espresso, milk) & Quickly But Slowly (Mozart Black, milk, La Clandestine Absinthe).

I will, however, spare my readers real-life photos of the Malaysian version of

the Hulk, a shooter glass of absinthe sunk into a pint of Guinness ...

Two photos to conclude. Ben's ...


40 ml La Clandestine Absinthe
15 ml Passion Fruit syrup
20 ml White Peach Puree
60 ml Apple Juice

Shake together, strain into a tall glass, and top with ice cubes (stand against the KL Towers to admire!)

And finally to take us back to the snows of Europe and the USA, a cocktail created by New York mixologist, Adam Schuman:

The White Christmas Cocktail

1/2 oz La Clandestine Absinthe
1/4 oz Simple syrup
1 oz Grapefruit juice
3 dashes St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram or The Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters
Top up with Champagne or Prosecco

Mixologists of the world: without your hard work drinking might be so one-dimensional. So thank you. Cheers, Santé, Kampai and Yam Sing!

Drinkers of the world: what absinthe cocktails will you be enjoying these holidays?


The Absinthe Review Network said...

Makes me wish I had read this entry prior to New Years!

Claudia Sibert said...

nice!!! Thanks for your comment! we tried the 89.9% alcohol absinthe - and only imported it coz a friend from NZ brought it as a gift. btw, i like your blog!