Stock photo of a Death in the Afternoon cocktail in a coupe glass with the red and green rgb values of each pixel swapped

Death in the Afternoon

Purportedly a creation of Hemingway’s.

  • Pour 1.5 oz of Absinthe into a coupe glass.
  • Top with 4.5 oz of Champagne.

Or that’s how it’s supposed to be served, anyway. If I were to make it, I’d probably chill the glass with ice and soda water first, and I’d swirl the Absinthe to produce a nice wash effect around the inside of the glass before adding the Champagne.

The devs on the other side of the office last Friday poured Absinthe and cheap Prosecco over ice into those little plastic wine glasses, and invited me over to join in on this ritual of bastardizing a classic American cocktail. I told them I didn’t like Champagne, but thanks for the offer. They laughed a little too hard at the notion that it was the Champagne I objected to, as if liking Absinthe is in any way edgy or unusual in this, the year of our lord two thousand and nineteen.

One of the promises I made to myself when I first started this job was that I wouldn’t drink with my coworkers for the first month. I didn’t like how much my ability to bond with previous coworkers was reliant on an altered state. It proved to be pretty easy since I had a massive health issue two weeks in that prevented me from drinking at all for several weeks.

During my recovery period, people around the office constantly kept tabs on me to see if and when I could drink again. I felt monitored and exposed. People kept inviting me to events where the only activity was getting drunk and were constantly surprised when I said no, even though they so generously pointed out that they wouldn’t be offended if I hung out with them sober. It never seemed to occur to them to engage in an activity which didn’t require being sloshed. As a consequence, I didn’t really make friends here the way I had previous jobs.

By the time I could drink consistently again, I’d developed a deep ambivalence to ever becoming friendly with these people.

I got a verbal job offer roughly two hours before Olivia tried to get me to have a Death in the Afternoon. I’d checked out of work and was playing with glitch art by then anyhow, and I almost went over and joined them. After all, my days here are numbered so nothing I do or say really matters from here on out. But I decided against it. Even after they offered to give me a full glass of Absinthe instead.

Some people just can’t stand to see other people not drink.

For an altogether more pleasant, more sophisticated, and less pretentious cocktail I recommend a Sazerac.

  • Rinse a chilled rocks glass with 0.5 oz of Absinthe. Discard any excess that lingers at the bottom of the glass
  • In a separate glass, muddle together 3 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters, 2 dashes of Angostura bitters, 1 sugar cube, and 1/2 tsp of water
  • Add 1.25 oz of Rye Whiskey and 1.25 oz of Cognac into the glass with the sugar mixture. Fill with ice. Stir until sugar is incorporated and liquor is well-chilled.
  • Strain the drink into the glass prepared with Absinthe. Twist a lemon peel slice above the surface and swipe it around the mouth of the glass to express the oils. Discard the lemon peel.

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