Ten years ago this March, the effective ban on the sale of absinthe in the U.S. was finally lifted, formally legalizing the sale of one of the most mysterious and enigmatic spirits ever produced, marking the end of nearly a century of unwarranted persecution.
When absinthe came back, it came back with a vengeance, with domestic and foreign-produced brands literally flooding the market. Within a few years there were more than 200 brands for sale, all vying for the dollars of drinkers fascinated with this forbidden concoction.
What we didn’t get was absinthe’s return to cocktail culture. Sure, folks might swirl some real absinthe in a Sazerac instead of Herbsaint, or rinse a cocktail glass with a scant dash of absinthe for a Corpse Reviver, but actual absinthe-focused cocktails have remained few and far between. Most people who encounter absinthe today probably do so the old-fashioned way, with cold water dripped slowly over a sugar cube suspended above a glass of the “green fairy.”
The world of absinthe-focused cocktails is simply much too small, and that’s why Lucid Absinthe Supérieure (whom you can thank for helping to get the ban overturned in 2007) and Drinkhacker are teaming up to challenge bartenders in a few of our most vibrant cities to design the most creative cocktails they can, using Lucid Absinthe as a focus. Starting with Austin, Texas, a panel of us experts (including Lucid master distiller Ted Breaux) will pore over the submissions and debate the merits of each. The winning recipe in the so-called Cocktail Classique competition will be awarded a $1,000 cash prize by Drinkhacker on April 24.
Also that evening, we’ll host an event in Austin, inviting our top 10 finalists to mix up their recipes for the public. You’re all invited to swing by, sample some absinthe drinks, and pick your favorite. The favorite drink judged by the fans will receive a $500 prize.
So now it’s time for you Austin bartenders to get cracking. Applicants should create a unique recipe using Lucid Absinthe and email the recipe and a photograph to LucidClassique@hrdspirits.com. Entries will be accepted through April 10 at 11:59pm PDT. The field of entries will be narrowed to 10 finalists who will be announced on April 11.
Watch this space (and follow @drinkhacker on Twitter) for more news as we get closer to the big event!