close up photo of martini with olives

Absinthe Martini

You’ll like this. It’s perfumed, subtle, complex — and potent. It’ll blow your head off in the most enchanting way.

I used the Difford’s recipe, which is:

  • 70ml Silent Pool Gin (I used their Platinum Jubilee gin)
  • 15ml Dolin dry vermouth
  • 5ml La Fée absinthe

Combine and stir over ice until the outside of the mixing glass is nice and frosty, then strain into a chilled glass and float a star anise atop as a garnish.

That’s allegedly a single measure but if you ask me it’s plenty to share between two, particularly if you serve it in Nick and Nora glasses rather than those triangular jobs. You can take your time over the first without fear of it growing warm and stale, and still be in credit if (when) you come back for another.

Aniseed — from the star anise and the absinthe — hangs around this drink like the sun warming a July garden. It starts as a herbal bite then develops to a rounded liquorice richness that’s almost sweet.

Up swim childhood memories of the white paper bags in which I’d get my penny sweets most Saturday mornings. Aniseed balls were my firm favourite so I saved them for last. By the time I got my haul home they would invariably have passed some of their aroma onto the whole lot, and once I’d finished them (which never took long) I could still smell aniseed on the bag itself. Not that I’d sit there sniffing it, you understand.

In the glass, layer upon layer of flavour reveals itself in turn. Under the aniseed lie the herbal notes from the vermouth; it reminds me of… mallow maybe? There are floral notes for sure, and some almonds skulking about. Then comes the juniper from the gin, in this case augmented by tea, which adds a further pleasant dimension.

Overall it’s a crisp, delightful drink that finishes on just the right amount of dryness to keep you coming back for more. No rush though, the flavours linger a satisfyingly long time.

My next book, Gin: A Tasting Course, will be published by DK Books in September 2023. It will be “a flavour-led approach to the world of gin” featuring over 100 gins reviewed and grouped by flavour profile.

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