Death in the Afternoon (cocktail)

Death in the Afternoon
Type Wine cocktail
Primary alcohol by volume
Standard drinkware
Flute Glass.svg
Champagne flute
* Death in the Afternoon recipe at DrinkBoy

Death in the Afternoon, also called the Hemingway or the Hemingway Champagne,[1][2] is a cocktail made up of absinthe and Champagne invented by Ernest Hemingway. The cocktail shares a name with Hemingway's book Death in the Afternoon, and the recipe published in So Red the Nose, or Breath in the Afternoon, 1935 cocktail book with contributions from famous authors.[3][4] Hemingway's original instructions were:

"Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly."[3]

According to The Ultimate Bar Book, the drink was one of Hemingway's favourites, but it was not the only cocktail he invented. There was also the gin-based Death in the Gulf Stream.[1] It is claimed that the cocktail was invented by Hemingway after he spent time in the Left Bank, Paris, and enjoyed the absinthe there.[1] Death in the Afternoon is known for both its decadence and its high strength.[5][6]

There are a number of alternative ways to produce Death in the Afternoon. The absinthe can be added to the glass after the Champagne, as some brands of absinthe will float on the Champagne for a short time.[5] Other alternatives have arisen because of the difficulty of acquiring absinthe; the absinthe can be replaced with Absente, an alternative to absinthe available where it is illegal, or a strong pastis, such as Pernod.[6] Variants which use an alternative to absinthe are sometimes given a different name,[6] but are also sometimes still referred to as Death in the Afternoon.[7] Some recipes direct the person making the cocktail to use ingredients in addition to the Champagne and absinthe; Valerie Mellma recommends that a sugar cube and several dashes of bitters be added to the glass prior to the main ingredients,[8] while Simon Difford recommends shaking the absinthe with sugar, water, lemon juice and ice, before straining the drink into the glass and adding the Champagne. He further directs that a single rose petal should be floated on the surface as garnish. He gave the cocktail 3 out of 5, and said that, while the taste of the absinthe dominated, there were also "hints of citrus and biscuity champagne".[4]

The cocktail is milky in appearance on account of the spontaneous emulsification of the absinthe (or substitute), and bubbly, which it takes from the Champagne. After the first drink, however, it becomes significantly less bubbly. Harold McGee, dining and wine writer for The New York Times, said that it "seemed a waste of effervescence".[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Hellmich, Mittie (2006). Ultimate Bar Book: The Comprehensive Guide to over 1,000 Cocktails. Chronicle Books. p. 154. ISBN 9780811843515. 
  2. ^ Bourgoin, Susan (2009). Knack Bartending Basics: More Than 400 Classic and Contemporary Cocktails. Globe Pequot. p. 132. ISBN 9781599215044. 
  3. ^ a b c McGee, Harold (3 January 2007). "Trying to Clear Absinthe’s Reputation". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 July 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Difford, Simon (2008). Diffordsguide Cocktails 7. Diffordsguide. p. 122. ISBN 9780955627606. 
  5. ^ a b English, Camper. "Top 5 Absinthe Cocktails". Epicurious. Retrieved 15 July 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c "Ernest Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon". Esquire. Retrieved 15 July 2011. 
  7. ^ Balmain, Julianne; Chynoweth, Kate (2006). Night+Day San Francisco. ASDavis Media Group. p. 132. ISBN 9780975902295. 
  8. ^ Mellema, Valerie (2007). The Professional Bartender's Handbook: A Recipe for Every Drink Known. Atlantic Publishing Company. p. 154. ISBN 9780910627955. 

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