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Death in the Afternoon
5 oz
chilled Champagne
1 oz
¼ oz
simple syrup
Death in the Afternoon

Apparently this was one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite drinks, or maybe he even created it. Whatever. Who cares. What’s important is that this drink provides an opportunity to talk about how everyone loves a good D in the A. It’s a high-proof mixture of wine and absinthe, so a D in the A can be intense at first; maybe it’s something you need to work up to.

This drink represents, structurally, the bare minimum of what a cocktail is: two things mixed together. And yet, due to the underlying complexity of the absinthe, the resulting flavor is challenging and elevated. It demonstrates beautifully that you don’t need to make big moves in order to make a big impact.

Champagne is preferred here, but you can use Cava or Prosecco if you like. And some people prefer to add ¼ ounce of simple syrup, or even throw some ice cubes in the drink. I won’t stop you.

1 drink

  1. Pour the Champagne into a wine glass, then drop the absinthe on top and give it a quick stir. Stir in the simple syrup if you like, and add ice if desired.

Reprinted with permission from Drink What You Want: The Subjective Guide to Making Objectively Delicious Cocktails by John deBary, copyright © 2020. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Illustration copyright: Sarah Tanat-Jones © 2020

Drink What You Want

John deBary

Book Cover