La Clandestine cocktails etc

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The Clandestino

This is based on the caipirinha, and was first served at the London Bar Show 2007. Since then it has been enjoyed in London, NY, LA, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, etc. It could be considered an update of the classic Absinthe Frappé cocktail, and it marries the flavours of La Clandestine, limes and sugar perfectly to make a very appetising and refreshing drink. 

Glass: Old fashioned/ small rocks

For one glass:-

 - 3 key limes
 - 3 - 4 tablespoons of regular sugar (sugar cane)
 - crushed ice, enough to fill at least 50% of the glass
 - 1.5 oz of La Clandestine Absinthe

Cut the limes in four parts each. Remove the seeds with the tip of your knife (crushed seeds are bitter). Using a muddler, crush down the limes with the sugar making a homogenous juice.Mix the limes with sugar in a shaker and add ice and absinthe.... shake ... pour into a glass.Drink slowly. As the ice melts, the flavours will develop, evolving from a fairly strong drink to a very "easy to drink" cocktail. Santé!


Of course, we don't tend to drink absinthe as a cocktail ingredient in the bars in and around the Val-de-Travers. This may be the birthplace of absinthe, but it is not the home of cocktails. We don't, however, have too many rules about how to enjoy absinthe in the Val-de-Travers (which is how we were able to keep alive the Swiss absinthe tradition during the 95 years in which it was officially banned in Switzerland). So if you do like absinthe in cocktails, please read on: we may have some nice surprises for you!

While absinthe was banned in Switzerland, our only rules were:-

  1. Hide our production from the local Customs man.
  2. If he found out what we were doing, make sure he liked it (with water, in cocktails ... whatever)!

Now we have "gone legal," we still have two rules:-

1. Don't burn your absinthe

2. Apart from Rule 1, enjoy your absinthe anyway you want!

Rule 1 aside, then, anything goes.

The classic way to enjoy a fine Swiss absinthe is with 3/4 parts of fresh mountain stream water from the Alps, while you sit with your friend(s) in a Swiss meadow, overlooking our fields of wormwood.

The perfect pour

  • a. Pour one measure in your glass.
  • b. Slowly pour 3/4 parts of chilled water, watching the crystal clear spirit "louche" or turn a beautiful, milky white.
  • Some absinthe lovers like to pour the water slowly over sugar, but we like La Clandestine "au naturel."
  • c. Enjoy!

Knowing that it is not always as easy as a,b,c .....  pour as in this video!

The Right Water

We have noticed in our travels that water can vary enormously from country to country. In the Val-de-Travers region of Switzerland, the fresh water marries perfectly with a fine local absinthe.

In some of the world's great cities, the local water can, at times, taste too chlorinated: a classic absinthe deserves more than that. In such cases, we recommend adding chilled still mineral water, one with not too high a salt content. Some of the Alpine mineral waters such as Evian or Vittel are perfect!


By 1930, absinthe had been banned in Switzerland, France and the USA. But that didn't stop the English enjoying their absinthe as seen in the Savoy Cocktail Guide.

This wonderful book contains 104 cocktails made with absinthe, all of which can be found via The Real Absinthe Blog.

It is interesting that these cocktails were being served in London around 1930, given that absinthe sales in Switzerland and France had been banned from 1915. Exports of remaining absinthe stocks may have continued after 1915, and production of absinthe shifted to Spain. So Londoners could have been enjoying pre-ban Swiss/French absinthe or absinthe produced in Spain. In either case, those bottles would be highly prized by collectors now. But in the "carpe diem" days of 1930, it seems, judging by this cocktail list, that absinthe drinkers had other things on their minds!

Nowadays, the mixologists of New York, London, Sydney and elsewhere are creating wonderful new concoctions with a La Clandestine base. Here are some of our favourites:

White Christmas (1)

(as made by Adam at the Fatty Crab on Hudson Street, NYC.

Serve in champagne flute

½ oz La Clandestine
¼ oz simple syrup
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
3 dashes St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram (or The Bitter Truths Aromatic Bitters or Pimento Dram)
Top up with Prosecco

Adam’s brilliance here lay in inverting the idea of falling snow into the rising bubbles of the Prosecco, but this is much more complex than the classic Death in the Afternoon cocktail.

Steamers Boat

(as served at Adrian's Bar, 82 West Nile Street Glasgow, Scotland)

Glass: Chilled Flute

Orange zests soaked in Clandestine for 3 days and brown sugar (covered with clingfilm)
25ml La Clandestine Absinthe
Champagne of your choice

In a brandy balloon, add 2 of the absinthe soaked orange zests with some of the brown sugar and 25ml Clandestine. Usinge a lighter, light the Absinthe and start swirling the glass allowing the sugar to caramelise and some of the alcohol to burn off. After about a minute blow out the flame and using a hawthorn strainer, transfer into a chilled flute. Top up with Champagne and garnish with a flamed absinthe soaked orange zest (beware as this can be slightly dangerous!).

Created by Darroch of Black Tie Bartending.

The Hazelnut Witch

1 oz. La Clandestine Absinthe
1 ½ oz. Frangelico
2 oz. Spring Water

Glassware = Martini Glass

Garnish = rim the glass with Graham Cracker Crumbs and 3 almond slices floating in the drink

Moisten the outer rim of the martini glass with simple syrup, dip it into Graham cracker crumbs.   In an ice-filled mixing glass or shaker, add the ingredients and shake thoroughly. Strain into the prepared martini glass and float the almond slices in the drink.

White Christmas (2)

1 ½ oz. La Clandestine Absinthe
Splash of White Crème de Cacao
Splash of White Crème de Menthe
2 oz. Spring Water

Glassware = Martini glass

Garnish = *Sugar on rim and the exterior of glass

2nd Garnish = Rosemary Sprig

*First prepare the glass by moistening the entire outer portion of the martini glass with a lime wedge or simple syrup, be sure to keep the stem clean.  Sprinkle/shake confectioner’s sugar over entire moistened area.  In an ice-filled mixing glass add La Clandestine Absinthe, the White Crème de Cacao, White Crème de Menthe and the spring water.  Shake thoroughly and strain into the prepared Martini glass.  Add the rosemary sprig into the cocktail.

Clandestine Luna

1 oz. La Clandestine Absinthe
1 oz. Cabo Wabo Blanco Tequila
1 oz. Combier Liqueur d'Orange
Splash of orange juice
Splash of simple syrup

Garnish = Orange Wheel

Glassware = Martini Glass

Finished with a dash of Blue Curacao into finished drink

In an ice-filled mixing glass or shaker, add La Clandestine Absinthe, the Cabo Wabo Tequila, and the Combier with the splash of orange juice and the splash of simple syrup.  Shake vigorously until shaker gets ice cold.  Strain into the Martini glass… NOW add the drop or two of Blue Curacao - it will sink to the bottom to form a “layer”.   Put an orange wheel on the rim, or a very thinly sliced orange wheel floating in the drink.

Forbidden Harvest

1 oz. La Clandestine Absinthe
2 ½  oz. Van Gogh Apple vodka
½ oz. simple syrup

Garnish = green apple slice with 3 whole cloves pushed in

Glassware = Martini glass

In an ice-filled mixing glass or shaker, add the Van Gogh Apple Vodka with La Clandestine Absinthe & simple syrup.  Shake thoroughly and strain into a Martini glass. Push 3 whole cloves into an apple slice or wedge, and float into drink

And a bonus shooter ...

Deadly Nightshade

1 part La Clandestine Absinthe
3 parts Van Gogh Acai-Blueberry Vodka

Shake until ice cold and strain into shot glasses

NOTE: Deadly Nightshade is a plant that produces berries very similar to Elderberries…except they are poisonous!

Thanks to George Delgado of Promixology in New York/New Jersey for all the recipes from Hazelnut Witch to Deadly Nightshade.

More Great Cocktails

Developed by New York Mixologists

A great collection developed by LeNell Smothers: our favourite is the Absinthe Pimm's.

The fruits of a great post-lunch session with Adam Schuman and Ted Breaux. Our favourite is Adam's White Christmas.