Absinthe's history as a cocktail ingredient stretches to the Reconstruction era. And while the new absinthe-oriented drink books I wrote about on Wednesday (A Taste for Absinthe and Absinthe Cocktails) have their share of drinks that use the potent anise-flavored spirit as a base, they're also filled with recipes that use absinthe in a ridiculously effective way: measured out in small doses, as a flavorful accent ingredient.
The Pan-American Clipper dates to at least 1939, when it appeared in Charles H. Baker's The Gentleman's Companion, a two-volume work that documents—in Baker's engaging faux-Victorian prose—the food and drink he experienced during a lifetime of aimlessly wandering the globe.
Heaven's Dog in San Francisco has a cocktail menu based on the intriguing recipes from Baker's book; while Baker's recipes are esoteric and are usually bolstered by travelogue-style anecdotes, they're also, to different extents, deeply weird. The bar staff at Heaven's Dog tinkered with the recipes, including the one for the Pan-American Clipper, boosting the amount of apple brandy in the drink and leveling out the other ingredients to make a drink rich and lush with fruit, but with an ethereal, herbaceous accent from a light lacing of absinthe.
This recipe was adapted by Erik Adkins at Heaven's Dog, and appears in A Taste for Absinthe, by R. Winston Guthrie with James F. Thompson; packed with the flavors of apples and pomegranate, it's a great drink to get an autumn weekend started.
About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.
- 2 ounces Calvados or other apple brandy
- 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1/2 ounce pomegranate grenadine
- 3 dashes absinthe
- thin strip of lime zest, for garnish
Combine liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake well until chilled, about 10 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass; garnish with lime zest.