By our resident blogger: fashion, beauty and lifestyle editor Charlie Bell
It’s time to lift our spirits
Absinthe may bring back flashbacks of regrettable 2am shots and painful hangovers but the spirit is growing in popularity and it looks like it’s set to be the ‘it’ drink of 2021. At Myles From Home, we’re always keen to try a new trend so we caught up with Allison Crawbuck and Rhys Everett the co-founders of Devil’s Botany– London’s first absinthe distillery – to find out what all the fuss is about.
What is absinthe?
Absinthe has a pretty bad rep and a history of being banned in many countries, including the USA and much of Europe, although it has never been officially banned in the UK. But with those bans now overturned, the spirit is swiftly gaining momentum again. “We love everything about absinthe - from its mysterious history to the tongue-numbing, explosion of flavour experienced with each glass,” says Allison and Rhys. Absinthe is a distilled spirit with grand wormwood and other botanicals including anise and fennel and it ranges from 45-75% in strength. Originating in the canton of Neuchatel in Switzerland in the late 18th century it was hugely popular amongst creative types including writers and artists giving the drink a bit of a bohemian vibe. Famous absinthe drinkers include Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde and Pablo Picasso. In 2020, London’s first absinthe distillery Devil’s Botany opened up, proving it’s back with a bang. “We decided to set up Devil's Botany Distillery after five years of working with absinthe at our cocktail bar, The Last Tuesday Society in Hackney, East London. We set out to start selling absinthe on our menu, but found that many of the brands that were available at the time did not appear to be of the same quality as the pre-ban examples that we'd read so much about”, explains Allison and Rhys. “After plenty of research and travelling to the spirit's birthplace, we started to import authentic absinthes directly from the distilleries along the Franco/Swiss border. These distillers have carried on the traditions of absinthe making since the 19th century. We immediately fell in love with their stories and their products. “Fast forward to 2020 with Brexit looming, it was becoming more and more difficult to import from the French & Swiss distilleries. Our bar had also just temporarily closed due to the pandemic and we were looking for a way to connect with our customers and fellow absinthe drinkers. We started to plan the launch of our own Devil's Botany London Absinthe, using the same methods and techniques of the clandestine distillers of Switzerland but arriving at an absinthe that is quintessentially British.”
How do you drink it?
You may be relieved to know that absinthe is not meant to be drunk neat and should always be diluted with chilled water. “We recommend drinking absinthe by diluting it with ice cold water, whether dripped from a fountain or slowly poured from a carafe,” says Allison and Rhys. “The most common ratio is 1 part absinthe to 3 parts water. Sugar can be added by balancing a sugar cube onto an absinthe spoon, but the addition of sugar is entirely up to the drinker's preference. We also love to fill a rocks glass with ice, add 1 part absinthe to 2 parts soda water, garnished with a sprig of mint.” Luckily we have all the gear (and some idea) at Myles From Home to help you make the most of the beverage. If you want to stick with tradition you need to serve it using slow dripping water over a sugar cube placed on an absinthe spoon. We have these Glass Water Scramblers, £13, used to slowly add sugared water to the absinthe through a small hole. Or if you want to take it up a notch we have this nifty See-Saw, £39, to Absinthe gadget. Add ice and water to the inside and it will trickle down through a hole over a lever to create a swinging motion that evenly distributes it over a sugar cube into the glass. Voila! A perfectly poured glass of absinthe. If you want to go all out, we also have this Absinthe Fountain, £199, for the ultimate extravagance that absinthe purists will love. It dilutes up to four absinthe drinks at a time - a real party-pleaser! And don’t forget our Absinthe Spoons, £8, too. Pretty and practical, they are the perfect finishing touch for showing off you bar skills. The absinthe cut-out detail helps the sugar and water flow through to the spirit. With water being the other key ingredient, we also have these vintage-inspired Bistrot Loupe Water Decanter for Absinthe, £28. The dome at the bottom magnifies when water is added and was hugely popular in Bistros and bars throughout Europe at the end of the 19th Century. To really serve your absinthe in style, check out the authentic Absinthe Saucers, £9 Each colour represented a different price (painted on the saucer), so the waiter could tot up the bill just by looking at the pile of discarded saucers! We love them as coasters or a serving dish! And finally, of course, your're going to need a glass to serve it in! Our Traditional Absinthe Glasses, £32 have a reservoir in the bottom to help you accurately measure your shot.
If cocktails are more your thing, absinthe is incredibly versatile in cocktails, according to Allison and Rhys. “A twist on the classic Southside and a Clover Club are a couple of our favourite cocktails containing only absinthe as its main ingredient,” adds Ali and Rhys.
- 15ml Simple Syrup
- 25ml Fresh lime juice
- 8 Mint Leaves
- 50ml Devil’s Botany London Absinthe
Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker and strain into a cocktail glass.
Absinthe Clover Club
- 4 Raspberries
- 15ml Simple Syrup
- 25ml Fresh lemon juice
- 50ml Devil’s Botany London Absinthe
- 20ml Egg white or 1 small egg (whites only)
Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker without ice for 10 seconds, add ice and shake again, then strain into a cocktail glass.
Absinthe may still have a way to go before it’s as popular as gin but we think it’s well on its way to becoming a firm favourite. “We would love to see absinthe as popular as gin,” says Allison and Rhys. “It might be a little behind gin in its popularity at the moment but as the botanical spirit category expands, we hope that consumers who are looking for an alternative spirit to a premium gin will instead reach for a premium quality absinthe. “There are over 2,500 gins on the market today. I am not sure we will ever see that amount of absinthes available, but we will certainly be giving it our best shot!
“The more attention that is bought to this magnificent spirit, the more trust consumers will have behind the product.”
With restrictions easing in the UK and summer fast approaching, we think this definitely calls for celebrations. Whether you’re hosting a garden party or having a picnic in the park, we hope you get the chance to enjoy a sip of absinthe in style with the help of Myles From Home and Devil’s Botany.