Absinthe isn’t something that I had ever tried or had much knowledge of. An absinthe bar crawl in Downtown Los Angeles not only sounded like an adventure, but the info that I took away from it was priceless. Pernod has perfected the art of absinthe making since 1805 and is now distributed in the United States. No, it’s not illegal anymore. We’ve all heard the ridiculous stories of hallucinations and craziness, rumored from people who have had the pleasure of drinking it. What most don’t know, are that most of the stories are hyped up myths and are drinking the liquor completely wrong. Recently I had the opportunity to visit 3 magnificent bars specializing in absinthe drinks to learn a bit more about it tucked away in Los Angeles. To clear things up for you, here are some facts and a few delicious drinks that’ll have your curiosity sparked and ready to take a trip with the green fairy. Did I mention we were carted around downtown in a horse and carriage? Ya, that’s right.
For those who haven’t had it, absinthe has a taste a lot like licorice or much like anise. This taste isn’t normal for the American palette as we don’t normally eat a lot of dishes with anise in it, but it’s meant to awaken the palette before you enjoy your meal. Absinthe in cocktails is used in very little amounts because of how strong and potent it is, not just flavor-wise but in alcohol content. The percentage can be from 80 proof up to 140 proof. So taking a shot of this may just get you seeing that sexy green fairy.
First stop, The Varnish. This hidden speakeasy is a small bar hidden inside another. (I’ll leave it to you to find it.) It’s small; dark setting is very intimate and calming. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a drink with a little bit of mystery and romance. Here our bartenders Eric and Chris explained the different ways to drink absinthe. The absinthe drip is the classic way to drink. It involves a specially designed absinthe fountain, a glass, a perforated spoon, a sugar cube and ice water. The drip fountain slowly drips water over the sugar cube into the glass of absinthe and is considered at its purest form. Since my tastes lean towards citrus and fruit, I had the Sea Fizz (Absinthe, lemon, sugar, egg white and a dash soda). I’ll be honest, the egg white was a bit scary to think about, but surprisingly, the drink was delicious! Having a drink with texture was refreshing and delightful at the same time. Other drinks to try here are Death in the Afternoon; Remember the Maine, and Corpse Reviver – which was unbelievable!
Next stop, the yet to be opened First & Hope. Located across from the philharmonic, this is the perfect supper club to visit before seeing a performance. Service is extremely important here, so whatever you need, they’re there for you. This 20’s themed supper club has an elegant dining room and a cabaret bar in the back of the restaurant with live music accompanied by an absinthe bar. The atmosphere will have you smoozing and tapping your feet to the beat. Not only is the food excellent, but they offer a wine wall with 32 wines with LCD screens above each selection with each one’s unique story.
The last stop embarked on, was the beautiful Edison Downtown. The Edison features a New Historic LA. This lounge has majestic relics of a long lost era of glamour and incorporates invention and imagery in the ambiance. Hand crafted cocktails are served as classic movies are played on screens small and wide all around. The Ember Parlour is an intimate room for private parties next to the Tesla Room. The Lab is also available to reserve for private performances on your own stage with your perfect private bar. This one is a definitely place to go if you’re looking for a good time downtown on a night out. The best part about here was the absinthe punch, after a few of these you’ll definitely be on your feet.
One thing to remember when discovering the wonderful world of absinthe is to not be afraid of the different tastes. There are numerous ways to enjoy, and it opens up an entire new world of taking pleasure in what you drink. Take a walk on the wild side and explore the classic ways to appreciate your beverage. Next time I’m out, no beer for me, I’ll have Death in the Afternoon.
Oh, and drink responsibly. Cheers!
Jenna is a social media maverick and frequently covers events in Hollywood.