Absinthe flavor is a hot-button topic when it comes to answering the question of “What is absinthe?”. Learning how to drink absinthe with different absinthe cocktails, absinthe brands, and even your own absinthe recipe rides on an understanding of the flavor. Absinthe flavor is quite a unique taste, even for a spirit option.
In this BinWise blog post we walk through the absinthe flavor and then dive into absinthe flavor pairings. If you are looking to serve absinthe at your bar business, or you’re a home mixologist or bartender, this is the spot for you.
Absinthe Flavor Pairings
Absinthe flavor is distinctly noted as black licorice. This intense flavor is due to the mix of herbs that go into absinthe, including anise and fennel. The best quality absinthe options have a lighter black licorice flavor. However, there isn’t any absinthe that completely escapes that flavor profile.
The absinthe flavor can be mixed with many other flavors. From cocktail mixes to food pairings, we’re going over 10 of the best absinthe flavor pairings. You can always pull from this list to make a meal of your absinthe drink. You can also get creative and choose other options that mix and match well with these choices.
The main absinthe cocktail that mixes perfectly with steak is the Absinthe Frappé. The Absinthe Frappé is a mix of absinthe, soda or tonic water, mint, and cream. That sweet mix pairs with the savory decadence of steak. Overall it’s a rich mix that will warm you up on a chilly night. It also lends itself into a dessert to round out the evening.
Cheesecake mixes with the Absinthe Frappé as well. That said, the richness of cheesecake compliments any absinthe drink depending on the flavor of the cheesecake dessert. A raspberry cheesecake would pair well with Death in the Afternoon, the absinthe and champagne cocktail. It’s all about finding a flavor that draws out the depth that is found in an absinthe drink.
Pineapple is quite the unique flavor on its own. It’s sweet, savory, and tangy all at once. Each facet of the flavor of pineapple brings out something different in absinthe cocktails. You can experiment with pineapple as a garnish, or mix in pineapple juice for extra flavoring. Heck, you can even do a roasted pineapple slice as a meal focus with an absinthe drink.
Burgers pair with absinthe in a similar way to steak. The rich, savory aspect of a burger makes it a pairing that brings out and complements different factors of an absinthe drink. You can pair a burger with an Absinthe Frappé, or branch out and try it with an absinthe and whiskey drink. The flavors you can include on a burger make the options almost endless.
Omelets pair well with any absinthe cocktail that works for a brunch menu. A brunch café serving up a Sazerac or an absinthe mimosa would be well-suited to serve omelet options. You can mix nearly anything into an omelet. That versatility means you can make an omelet to suit your favorite absinthe brunch drink. You can also do breakfast for dinner.
5. Coconut Water
Coconut water is different from the other options on this list, but it’s equally important. Coconut water serves as a great mixer for absinthe cocktails. The smooth, surprisingly sweet and rich feel of coconut water serves itself to balance out the absinthe flavor. If an absinthe cocktail calls for tonic water or tap water, try coconut water instead to see how it mixes.
4. Olives and Cheese
An olive and cheese platter for an appetizer or charcuterie course can suit a variety of absinthe drinks. You should use a mix of sharp and mellow cheeses, as well as an array of olives. That way you can pick and choose to match different absinthe cocktail samples.
The variety of pastas you can find in restaurants or cook up at home means there is a pasta for every absinthe drink. Pasta mixes well with, well, everything. It can be plain or adventurous. It can compliment a flavor or become the main focus of the meal. Ultimately, your favorite pasta dish can work with the absinthe cocktail of your choice.
2. Fruit Salads
Most fruits pair perfectly with an absinthe cocktail. Any absinthe cocktail with a fruity flavor addition will benefit from a fruit garnish. To keep the sweet and savory flavors going, mix up your absinthe drink with a fruit salad on the side. You’ll find this to be a refreshing mix for any absinthe drink.
Absinthe pairs well with any and all seafood options. From oysters to crab to salmon, there’s an absinthe drink that mixes with the unique flavor and texture of seafood options. You can pick your favorite absinthe cocktail and nearly any seafood dish you enjoy. Odds are the flavors will mix well together with their unique profiles.
"Key Takeaway: The intense absinthe flavor is due to the mix of herbs that go into absinthe, including anise and fennel."
Frequently Asked Questions About Absinthe Flavors
The absinthe flavor inspires a great deal of questions. For our answers to these frequently asked questions we’re keeping it straightforward. Mixing up absinthe with different flavors in cocktails and food pairings is one part of the absinthe flavor. The distinct flavor of the spirit itself is what we’re covering here.
Does Absinthe Taste Sweet?
No, absinthe on its own doesn’t taste sweet. That said, you can mix up absinthe cocktail drinks that do taste sweet because of other ingredients. Absinthe is a strong flavor, but it does lend itself well to many other flavors. It can end up as a component of sweet treat.
Why Is Absinthe Forbidden?
Absinthe was forbidden and banned in 1912 because it was believed to contain hallucinogenic properties. These days we know that isn’t true. However, we at BinWise do enjoy reading tall tales about absinthe. It’s a spirit with a wild history. It belongs in the drinking history hall of fame, alongside the oldest bars in America.
Does Absinthe Taste Bitter?
Yes, absinthe does have a bitter taste. This is due in part to the inclusion of wormwood. This bitterness is one of the reasons why the original absinthe cocktail, the Absinthe Drip, dilutes absinthe with a sugar cube. Some added sugar helps to cut the bitterness down and bring out the range of flavors in absinthe.
Does Absinthe Taste Like Cough Syrup?
Some absinthe options do taste like cough syrup. These are usually the cheaper, lower-quality options. If you’re venturing into making your own absinthe you’ll likely have a few cough syrup experiments. However, top quality absinthe is a relatively smooth experience.
The Absinthe Flavor: Some Licorice In Your Liquor
The absinthe flavor is strong, that’s for sure. It brings character to any drink and frankly, to any bar or restaurant serving absinthe cocktails. If you’re serving absinthe in your business, check out BinWise. BinWise Pro, paired with the BinScan mobile app, is designed to help you take inventory with ease.