This article was originally published in The San Francisco Chronicle on 4/ 28/13
Picture by Craig Lee, special to the Chronicle
Most folk seem to either love or hate the taste of anise, and if you’re one of the people who isn’t enamored of the flavor, then it’s doubtful you’ll enjoy drinks that contain ouzo, anisette, Sambuca, or absinthe. But perhaps I can persuade you to try a cocktail that might just change your mind.
The Faro Dealer is a simple little drink that I cobbled together a few years ago, not long after absinthe once again became available in the USA. It was an exciting time for me. I’d tasted absinthe before, you see. Please don’t tell the authorities.
In the mid-nineties, when telephones were still in vogue, I was contacted by a gentleman in Louisiana who told me that he had come across an old recipe for distilling absinthe, and he had whipped up a batch in his laboratory. Would I like a sample? Darned right I would.
The elixir that landed on my doorstep shortly after that phone call was so complex that it blew my mind. It remains to this day the most multifaceted spirit that ever dripped slowly down my throat. It didn’t last long, and I lost touch with the modern-day moonshiner who sent it, but I’d sampled real absinthe, and I knew only one other person on the face of the earth who could say the same—the guy I shared my stash with.
Now absinthe is pretty much commonplace again in bars all over the world, but I doubt that many people drink it in the same way as the late-nineteenth-century Europeans who merely added sugar and water to their glasses of la fee verte, as it was known back then. If absinthe is used judiciously, though, it can add many dimensions to a drink, and turn a decent quaff into something that’s very special, indeed.
The name of my Faro Dealer cocktail was intended as a joke. I created the drink as a salute to a dear friend who was old enough, I told people, to have been a card shark in the Wild, Wild West. I’ll leave his name out of this piece. Especially since he has no more than a couple of years on yours truly.
And you’ll see that my formula for this drink more or less fits a template for, say, a Margarita, inasmuch as it calls for a base spirit, and orange-flavored liqueur, and a little citrus juice to balance it out. The extra ingredient, in the form of absinthe, is added in carefully measured drops, and this is the component that brings the cocktail to life. Be careful. This Faro Dealer tends to deal from the bottom of the deck.
60 ml (2 oz) Bulleit rye whiskey
22.5 ml (.75 oz) Cointreau
15 ml (.5 oz) fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Lucid absinthe
Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.