Like many classic absinthe cocktails, the Suissesse originated in New Orleans.
But it was by no means the first absinthe cocktail. That honour goes to another drink with a splash of the green fairy—the Sazerac. The Sazerac, a mix of cognac, absinthe, sugar and bitters, is thought by some historians to be the oldest known American cocktail.
Sazerac as the first cocktail is disputed, just as the etymology of the word cocktail itself. Numerous theories for why we call a mixed drink a cocktail abound:
- Some hunting or carriage horses had their tails docked, or cut, and looked like literal 'cock's (rooster) tails'. These horses were not thoroughbred and when they were entered into races they were seen as adulterated, just as pure spirits become adulterated when other substances (bitters, sugar) are added.
- In 18th century England a 'ginger' or a suppository was used to perk up horses, literally to make it cock its tail, and show that it was lively and spirited. (Fantastic and convincing article in Saveur magazine by cocktail expert David Wondrich here).
- In New Orleans, apothecary Antoine Amédée Peychaud (inventor of bitters), served brandy and bitters in egg cups—coquetier—whose name was mispronounced.
Even more theories exist, from cockfighting to Aztec princesses.
But back to the milky green Suissesse. It's creamy and refreshing and makes an excellent brunch drink (or hair of the dog).
1 shot absinthe
1 shot crème de menthe
1 egg white
1 part single cream
Put all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake well.
Add ice and shake again.
Strain into a glass (or serve over ice, whatever you like).
Alternatively, put all ingredients in a blender and blend well.
- Use pasteurized egg whites if you're squeamish about raw ones.
- If you don't like the green tinge, use clear crème de menthe.
- For more on the green fairy, see here.