Anyone who’s spent the bulk of their youth in clubs would recognise the distinctive licorice-esque scent of absinthe from a mile away. Cue flashbacks of regrettable flaming cocktails and suspiciously-coloured (we’re talking lime green) concoctions. Hendrick’s, however, wants to change your mind about this spirit with its very own take.
If you balked after reading this, you’re not alone. Hendrick’s is, after all, a maker of gin – and a very good one at that – so why are they dabbling in a spirit that has one of the worst reps in the world of alcohol?
According to Hendrick’s Master Distiller, Lesley Gracie, it turns out that gin and absinthe do have plenty in common. “Absinthe has this incredibly rich history steeped in mystery and was for many years feared, but it really shouldn’t be as it is such an amazing liquid. It is really a cousin to gin, in that it is a botanically flavoured spirit – just with a different palette of botanicals to play with,” she said.
The botanicals in question include two traditional absinthe ingredients – ‘Artemisia absinthium’ (aka wormwood) as well as star anise, giving Hendrick’s Absinthe the same recognisable and seductively perfumed nose and flavour. Thankfully, the distiller has also put its stamp on it by combining them with seven additional botanicals, including Hendrick’s Gin’s signature infusions of rose and cucumber. All flavours here are naturally infused, creating a more subdued and elegant version of the spirit that’s actually palatable neat.
These, plus a much lower ABV of 48%, has resulted in a refreshingly approachable reimagination of a liquid that was once fervently adored by artists, writers, creators and dreamers, before it was villainised as a societal scourge that supposedly makes you hallucinate (spoiler alert: it doesn’t).
Because of its divisive taste, absinthe isn’t a spirit that typically takes centrestage in a cocktail, but Hendrick’s designed for this to be a core component in concoctions, instead of just in rinses and dashes.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to create your own absinthe cocktails at home with this one just yet; Hendrick’s Absinthe will be only be available at 20 top bars across the city to create a Hendrick’s Absinthe cocktail inspired by the Belle Époque era of creative freedom and untamed artistic imagination.
From 19 September to 23 October 2022, some of Singapore’s best bars – ATLAS Bar, Barbary Coast Ballroom, Barbary Coast Deadfall, Employees Only, Fat Prince, Jekyll & Hyde, Jigger & Pony, Low Tide, Manhattan, Night Hawk, Nutmeg & Clove, Papa Doble, Revival, Sago House, Stay Gold Flamingo, Sugarhall, TESS Bar, Writers Bar, The Bar @ 15 Stamford and Nemesis – will present their unique take on the spirit.
ATLAS Bar’s entry, for example, is a beautifully romantic concoction called Gold Dream that’s inspired by choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s contemporary dance piece “Within the Golden Hour,” and features Hendrick’s Gin, Crème de Cacao, Crème de Menthe, pineapple juice, lavender, bitters, and foam alongside Hendrick’s Absinthe.
Over at Fat Prince, the spirit gets a middle eastern twist with Ottoman tea and ginger honey in Tableau Feu, while Jekyll & Hyde’s Illusionary Harvey sees the curious addition of coriander and chill- infused Hendrick’s Gin, fish sauce and carrot Syrup, to become an experience worthy of a true Hendrick’s cocktail.
Head to Jigger & Pony and you’ll find Tuxedo Unfold, a deceptively simple-looking cocktail that’s an explosion of flavours from the Fino Sherry, PX Sherry Vinegar, Lemon, Rose Water, and Cucumber & Mint Tea,.
(All images: Hendrick’s)