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Happy National Licorice Day! While there are a few licorice-based liqueurs out there, it is easier to play around with licorice’s botanical cousin – anise! Anise seed and anise seed oil are commonly used to bolster the flavor in licorice candies, so you may find that the flavor of these anise-based liqueurs reminds you ever so slightly of that licorice whip you enjoyed as a child. There are a host of anise-based liqueurs, and that distinct licorice-like aroma and flavor is an integral part of classic cocktails like the Sazerac. Instead of a trip to New Orleans for a Sazerac, however, let’s take a trip to the backyard with the April Siesta – a variation on Ernest Hemingway’s well-loved Death in the Afternoon.
Death in the Afternoon is simply a shot of absinthe added to a flute of champagne. The herbal aroma of the absinthe shines through as the bubbles work their way to the top of the drink, providing a complex and dry cocktail. While the green fairy, Absinthe, makes for delectable drinks, some people still are a bit cocktail-shy of using it. It is a very strong and highly sweetened liqueur with a proof of at least 90 and up to 148. You can substitute Pernod, Herbsaint, Sambuca, or another of the pastis class of liqueurs, though they will not be as vibrant or powerful as the absinthe itself. The anise flavor and smell that dominate these liqueurs bring to mind the best part of those childhood treats with a decidedly adult edge.
Instead of champagne, a sparkling white wine that is made primarily with chardonnay grapes using the method champenoise in the Champagne region of France, you can grab a bottle of cava. Cava is a Spanish sparkling white wine that is also made using the method champenoise in Spain. You will notice a significant price difference between true champagne and cava, which is partially attributable to the cava production process and partially to the less pervasive advertising for it. Cava is not only an affordable everyday sparkling white wine, but it is closer in flavor to champagne than Prosecco, which suits the purpose of this drink well.
Spring is the time for citrus, but too much citrus would overpower the anise smell and flavor, so a dry curacao, such as Cointreau or Pierre Ferrand, will add the depth of flavor and hint of citrus without overwhelming the drink’s herbal components. Both of these products have less sugar and sweetness than a typical triple sec to let the anise flavor and herbal notes remain at the forefront of the drink. If you prefer sweeter drinks, you can use a regular triple sec here which will have a much more pronounced sweetness, but test your recipe out to make sure it doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the components.
This drink is usually very “dry” in that it lacks not only sweetness but has a bit of a bitter quality that can be very refreshing. If you find that the drink is not enjoyable for you, add more sweetness with a touch of simple syrup, or go with the triple sec as described above.
- 1.5 oz absinthe or Pernod
- 0.5 oz dry curacao
- 0.25 oz simple syrup
- 3.5 oz cava
- Lemon twist for garnish
- Combine the first three ingredients in a mixing tin or glass.
- Stir to combine.
- Add cava to a flute until nearly two-thirds full.
- Once your initial foam subsides, add the combined ingredients to the cava, creating a cloudy louche.
- Garnish with a lemon twist.
Enjoy your April Siesta in the yard, in a hammock, on a patio or on balcony, and raise a toast to National Licorice Day!