Green Fairy in a Shotglass

Ah, the ‘green fairy’. Our legendary drink. A double-edged sword that triggers both gaiety and melancholy.

There’s always been so much talk about this once elusive and yet not difficult to procure spirit, especially if you think along the lines of its debatable hallucinogenic properties. Now that it has become popular once again (and relatively easier to source) in Europe and throughout the rest of the world, it’s not difficult to trace its history and connections with many past intellectuals and writers - among them one of the writers I’d like to think I’d get along pretty well with, Oscar Wilde.

At the beginning of the 19th century, absinthe was labelled a working class drink and was easily one of the cheapest spirits available to the despairing and the poor. Edgar Degas’s Absinthe depicts the drunkard and the prostitute as key exploiters of modern consumption and places them aptly within the modern space for consumption — the bar, where an easy outlet of release lies in the tempting green arms of the absinthe drink. Apart from its association with such underground figures and its worrying harmful side effects, absinthe became less the powerful drink that represented escapism and despondency and more the symbol of a degenerate society spawned from modernity itself.

‘the perfect example of Second Empire capitalism, a mass-produced, commercial, and rather fraudulent concoction taken over from le peuple, creating money for its suppliers and for café proprietors’ - Herbert, 1988


From the mid-19th century onwards, absinthe became the fashionable aperitif and the drink of choice amongst the bourgeoisie. A whole hour, known as the Green Hour, was even dedicated to it. Furthermore, absinthe was appearing often in the paintings of Manet and Van Gogh. Artists and poets were consuming it in large quantities as well. No surprise why the age of decadence was later criticized, paid tribute to and immortalized by many decadent poets.

If you have yet to hear of the B55 shot, you might be familiar still with its cousin the B52 shot.

B55 - The Green Fairy in a Shotglass.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 Sebor Absinthe (one of the most affordable ones out there)
  • 1/3 Baileys Irish Cream
  • 1/3 Kahlua
  • If you’re not too skilled in preparing layered shots, pour the spirit onto a slanted spoon into the shotglass slowly so as to keep the layers neat. Begin with kahlua at the bottom, followed by the Baileys and lastly the lovely green absinthe.
  • B52 Ingredients
  • 1/3 Grand Marnier
  • 1/3 Baileys Irish Cream
  • 1/3 Kahlua



Similar preparation: Kahlua at bottom, Baileys in the middle and topped off with Grand Marnier.
Personally I prefer the B55. It has a nicer finish. Contrary to popular belief, good absinthe isn’t bitter at all. This shot, combined with the milky richness of the Baileys, with its flavours deepened with kahlua, will leave you with a delightful tasty trail of absinthe at the end, tantalizing you with its distinctive refreshing, almost herby taste. And although common absinthe is bottled at about 55% alcohol, a B55 shot will not leave you hallucinating or off your face at any one point (unless you have a crazy boat of 9 shots or more).


Absinthe connoisseurs can stick to the traditional way of enjoying absinthe neat or louched with water, with a sugar cube or no. The radicals can set it alight and the modern creative souls out there can enjoy them in layered shots, ice cream sundaes and cupcakes, etc.

However, with freedom comes restraint (as so we learn from Julius Caesar). Therefore, remember moderation is the keyword here.

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