My last Cocktail XChange experience was a lot of fun, with various gin cocktails to try, a balloon popping competition and some gin facts. But I already know quite a lot about gin. This event was going to be about a spirit I knew very little of- absinthe.
I think there's lots of us who have heard rumours of 'green fairies' and did a shot of absinthe when we were teenagers and never thought about it again since. That's certainly my experience, so I was looking forward to learning more.
This event was held at Le Truc, a French restaurant in the Arcadian. I've been meaning to go along for ages and this was a great opportunity.
It is decorated as a traditional French bistro but with some quirky twists.
We arrived a little early and had time for a cocktail before the event kicked off. It was happy hour so we chose off the £4.50 cocktail menu. I had the Provençal- a honey, almond and fizz concoction.
Edd went for a Lemon Drop which really tasted like the sweets but not as sugary. We loved the glass.
The event began with a taster of the absinthe which would go into our first cocktail- La Fee NV Absinthe Verte. This was the least strong of all the types we tried but a lot of us were a little nervous at first. Head Barman Rob who was guiding us through the evening suggested adding water as this would release the different flavours.
Then onto our first cocktail- Death on a Spring Afternoon. This was a twist on the cocktail Death in the Afternoon, invented by Hemingway and named after his book about bullfighting. The original cocktail is champagne with absinthe- sounds like my kind of drink. This version was lightened up with apple, cucumber and elderflower and used prosecco instead of champagne. I love anything with those flavours and the aniseed-y note from the absinthe was an interesting twist.
After the first cocktail, food started to appear, which was good timing as we were all starting to feel a little light headed! Each table had moules, chicken liver parfait, olives and bread to share. Everything was absolutely beautiful. I would never pick any of these items off a menu usually but I enjoyed each one thoroughly. It convinced me that I had to come back to Le Truc for food.
Edd and I also ordered (and paid separately for) a baked Camembert to share. It came with apple butter (a very fine apple sauce) apricot chutney and bread. We felt we needed more bread as there was a lot of cheese left. However it was oozy, tasty and delicious and the sauces were perfect accompaniments.
Onto the next absinthe and the next cocktail! This absinthe was La Fee Bohemian absinthe and was stronger than the previous. You definitely needed to add the water to this one!
The cocktail was 'Concealed Weapon'- absinthe, lemon juice, chambord and egg white. I love an egg white cocktail so would have liked more foam on top but I imagine it's difficult to achieve when making lots all at once. When I ordered an egg white-based cocktail later the foam was thick and perfect.
The drink itself was sweet from the chambord, cut through with the sharp lemon and then finished with the surprise of the absinthe. I am really loving absinthe as a cocktail ingredient- it's such an interesting, unexpected twist!
The evening lasted quite a long time with plenty of time to regain your balance after each cocktail. The drinks were quite strong so getting through all of them in quick succession wouldn't have made for the classiest evening. We were sat with a lovely couple who had won a competition to be there so we were pleased to have nice people to talk to.
Onto the final cocktail of the evening. Green and Black, made with La Fee Absinthe Parisienne. This absinthe was eye-wateringly strong and mixing with water was the only way to really appreciate the flavours.
The cocktail was a twist on an espresso martini, made with coffee tequila, a shot of espresso, cane syrup and absinthe. This was very strong, definitely one for sipping! It was an interesting taste- first the obvious hit of espresso along with the hint of something stronger, followed by the slight sweetness of the absinthe.
Throughout the evening we also learnt about the history of absinthe from its beginnings as a medicinal drink in Switzerland, to the crazy rumours that surround it, through to its re-emergence in recent years.
I had such a fun evening, drinking, eating, learning about a spirit that was quite a mystery to me! If this sounds like the sort of thing you'd enjoy, keep an eye on the Cocktail XChange Facebook page. Apparently the next one will be tequila, vodka or whiskey.
Photos by Edd.
I paid for my tickets and also for additional cocktails and food.