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What is best to mix with absinthe?

Absinthe is a strong alcoholic drink that originated in Switzerland in the late 18th century. It gets its signature emerald green color from herbs like anise, fennel, and wormwood. Absinthe has an extremely high alcohol content, typically 45-74% ABV (90-148 proof). This makes it one of the strongest alcoholic beverages available. When prepared traditionally, absinthe is diluted with water before drinking. The water causes the herbs to “louche” and become cloudy. While absinthe has a notorious reputation, when consumed responsibly it can be safely enjoyed. Let’s explore some of the best mixers to try with absinthe.

Should Anything Be Mixed with Absinthe?

Opinions differ on whether absinthe should be diluted, mixed, or simply sipped straight. Here are some perspectives to consider:

  • Traditional Preparation – The traditional French method is to slowly drip ice cold water into a glass with 1-2 oz of absinthe. The water dilutes the alcohol and brings out the flavors. Purists argue this is the best way to enjoy absinthe’s full range of flavors and aromas.
  • Cocktails – Mixing absinthe into cocktails has become popular in modern bars. It adds a rich herbal element. However, some argue the strong absinthe flavor can overpower other ingredients.
  • Straight – Sipping absinthe straight allows you to fully taste its powerful concentrated flavor. But its high alcohol content makes this unwise to do with more than a small serving.
  • Preference – Ultimately it comes down to personal preference. Feel free to experiment to find your preferred way of enjoying this storied spirit.


Water is the most traditional mixer for absinthe. Important tips on mixing absinthe with water:

  • Use a ratio of 3-5 parts water to 1 part absinthe.
  • The water should be very cold to trigger the “louche” effect.
  • Add the water slowly by dripping it over a sugar cube into the absinthe. The gradual dilution unlocks flavors and aromas.
  • Still or sparkling water can be used. Sparkling provides added effervescence.
  • Once diluted, absinthe’s alcohol content drops to a more manageable 20-30% ABV (40-60 proof).

Mixing with water in this careful way is how absinthe was traditionally prepared and enjoyed in France and Switzerland.


Another traditional way to enjoy absinthe is with sugar. Here’s how to mix sugar and absinthe:

  • Place a sugar cube on an absinthe spoon over a glass of absinthe.
  • Slowly drip cold water over the sugar cube so it dissolves into the absinthe.
  • The dissolving sugar helps enhance absinthe’s herbal flavors and aromas as it dilutes.
  • 1-2 sugar cubes is plenty for a serving of absinthe. More will overpower the herbal notes.
  • White sugar is most common. Demerara or simple syrup can also be used for variation.

The absinthe spoon helps control the water drip for proper louche development. Allow the sugar to fully dissolve as you stir and enjoy your drink.


Absinthe also shines when used creatively in cocktails. Here are some recommended cocktails to mix with absinthe:

Cocktail Ingredients Taste Notes
Death in the Afternoon Absinthe, Champagne Herbal, bubbly, refreshing
Corpse Reviver #2 Gin, Lillet Blanc, Cointreau, Absinthe, Lemon Juice Citrus, botanical, crisp
Sazerac Rye Whiskey, Sugar, Peychaud’s Bitters, Absinthe Boozy, spicy, hint of anise
Obituary Gin, Dry Vermouth, Absinthe Herbal, balanced, martini-style

When mixing absinthe cocktails, use 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 oz of absinthe to let its flavor come through. Feel free to experiment with your own signature absinthe cocktail creations too.


For a refreshing twist, absinthe can be mixed with juices like lemon, lime, grapefruit, apple or orange. Here are tips on mixing with juice:

  • Use 1 part absinthe to 2-3 parts juice for a balanced flavor.
  • Shake absinthe and juice together with ice in a cocktail shaker.
  • Strain into a chilled glass. No need for added water or sugar.
  • Citrus juices complement absinthe’s herbal quality. Consider lemon, lime, or grapefruit.
  • Apple, orange, pineapple, or cranberry juices can also make nice absinthe combinations.

Juice mixes provide a lighter, fruitier way to enjoy absinthe versus richer cocktails or neat pours. They work well for easy absinthe drinks to make at home.

Other Notable Mixers

In addition to the most common mixers covered above, here are some other liquids that pair well with absinthe:


Green tea, black tea, or herbal teas like chamomile or mint complement absinthe’s botanical essence. Prepare tea, let it cool, then mix with a 1:1 ratio of absinthe. The flavors marry into an intriguing aromatic drink. Sweeten to taste with sugar or honey.

Energy Drinks

The bitterness of energy drinks like Red Bull balances out absinthe’s anise flavor. Mix 1 part absinthe to 2-3 parts energy drink for a fun shot or cocktail option.


Cola’s caramel notes pair surprisingly well with absinthe’s licorice quality. Mix 2 parts cola with 1 part absinthe for a nice balance. Serve over ice.


For a summertime refresher, mix equal parts lemonade and absinthe. The tart citrus fulfills the louche-triggering role of traditional water. Shake well with ice and enjoy poolside.


The bold flavor of absinthe opens itself to mixing with many ingredients. Water is the traditional choice, slowly dripped into a sugar cube over absinthe. Cocktails allow absinthe to feature alongside complementary liquors like whiskey, gin, and vermouth. For lighter drinks, juices from citrus fruits, apples, and cranberries blend refreshingly with absinthe. More adventurous mixers can also try tea, cola, energy drinks, or lemonade. While absinthe can be sipped straight, exploring mixers lets you unlock its full versatility. Ultimately the best mixer is whichever allows you to enjoy absinthe’s herbal complexity while responsibly savoring its potency.