Over the summer, I assisted an editorial photoshoot at a bar in Chicago with one of the largest absinthe collections in the US. While adjusting lights, wiping up stray ice water, and sampling absinthe prepared the traditional French method, I also listened to anecdotes and history lessons as colorful as the spirit. Modern day absinthe consumption alludes to 19th and 20th century Europe, where the drink became wildly popular, notably among French writers and artists. The name comes from the Latin name for wormwood, artemisia absinthium. The three necessary ingredients in absinthe are anise, fennel, and wormwood, but the variations, additions, and methods can be as diverse as wine making.
To serve, a slotted spoon with a single sugar cube is placed on top of a glass containing the bright green liquid. Ice water is slowly dripped into the glass, dissolving the sugar cube, diluting the absinthe, and creating a chemical reaction that turns the concoction into a milky green color.
This shortbread contains no absinthe or alcohol at all. Instead, the flavor is alluded to with star anise and fennel, and the mint green color courtesy of food coloring.