Death in the Afternoon Recipe

Death in the Afternoon Recipe

Death in the Afternoon is a classic cocktail that was created by none other than Ernest Hemingway himself. Hemingway, who was known to enjoy his drinks, was a fan of absinthe and often mixed it with champagne. He even wrote a piece on how to make this cocktail for an article in 1935.

The name of this cocktail comes from one of Hemingway’s books, also called “Death in the Afternoon,” which is about bullfighting. The drink itself is said to have been named after the way light reflects off the bubbles of champagne, which reminded Hemingway of sunlight reflecting off a matador’s sword during a bullfight.

While absinthe was banned for many years due to its rumored hallucinogenic effects, it has since been legalized and has made a comeback as a popular ingredient in cocktails. Death in the Afternoon remains one of its most classic and intriguing uses.


Servers: 1

  • 1 oz Absinthe
  • Chilled champagne

Taster’s Guide Tip 230: Death in the Afternoon Recipe

The Death in the Afternoon cocktail holds a significant place in history as it became associated with the “Lost Generation,” a group of renowned artists and writers including Ernest Hemingway. This unique libation, named after Hemingway’s book on bullfighting, combines equal parts absinthe and champagne, creating a vibrant and invigorating drink. Symbolizing the bohemian lifestyle and artistic rebellion of the Lost Generation, the Death in the Afternoon cocktail has become an enduring emblem of their pursuit of creativity and unconventional approach to life, captivating cocktail enthusiasts and literary admirers alike.


  1. Pour 1 ounce of absinthe into a champagne flute.
  2. Slowly fill the glass with chilled champagne, allowing it to mix with the absinthe.
  3. Give the cocktail a gentle stir.
  4. Serve the Death in the Afternoon cocktail immediately and enjoy!

Importance of Knowing How to Make This Classic Cocktail

Knowing how to make Death in the Afternoon is important for several reasons. For one thing, it’s an impressive cocktail that will impress your guests and show off your bartending skills. It’s also perfect for special occasions like New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day when you want something elegant and sophisticated.

In addition, learning how to make this cocktail gives you insight into classic mixology techniques. It requires skillful pouring and stirring techniques that can be applied to other cocktails as well.

Making your own cocktails at home can save you money compared to going out to bars or restaurants every time you want a drink. With just two ingredients plus some basic equipment, anyone can make Death in the Afternoon at home without breaking the bank.

In the next sections, we will discuss in detail the ingredients, equipment, and steps needed to make this classic cocktail. We will also provide tips for making the perfect Death in the Afternoon.

Information about Ingredients


Absinthe is a highly alcoholic, anise-flavored spirit that is traditionally associated with bohemian culture and 19th-century France. It has a long and storied history, with many legends surrounding its use. Absinthe’s main ingredient is the herb wormwood, which gives it its distinctive flavor and green color.

Other herbs like fennel, anise, and hyssop are also used in the production of absinthe. There are many different types of absinthe available on the market today, each with its own unique flavor profile.

Some of the most popular brands include Pernod Absinthe, Lucid Absinthe Supérieure, and Kübler Absinthe Superieure. Each brand has its own recipe for making absinthe, which can impact the final taste of the cocktail.


Champagne is a sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region of France. It is made using specific methods that give it its signature bubbles and crispness. Champagne grapes are pressed gently to avoid breaking their skins which could affect the quality of juice extracted.

The juice ferments in stainless steel or oak barrels under controlled temperatures to produce what we call “base” wines. There are three main types of champagne used in cocktails: brut nature (very dry), brut (dry), and extra-brut (off-dry).

When selecting a champagne for Death in the Afternoon cocktail recipe, it’s important to consider your personal preferences as well as those of your guests if you’ll be serving it at a party or gathering. Champagnes vary in sweetness levels depending on how much sugar they contain (dosage).

The sweeter ones like doux champagnes pair well with spicy dishes while drier varieties like brut nature or extra brut work well with seafood and other lighter flavors. For this cocktail, dry or extra-brut champagne is recommended to balance the anise flavor of the absinthe.

Death in the Afternoon Recipe

Equipment Needed

The Death in the Afternoon cocktail is a classic French recipe that requires specific equipment to achieve the perfect balance of flavors. Here are the two essential tools you will need:

Absinthe spoon

An absinthe spoon is a long, flat utensil with perforations that allows for slow and controlled dripping of water into the absinthe. This tool is essential because adding water to absinthe helps bring out its unique flavors and aromas. You can find absinthe spoons online or at specialty kitchen stores.

When choosing an absinthe spoon, look for a sturdy and high-quality material such as stainless steel or silver. The shape of the spoon should be long enough to reach into the bottom of your champagne flute without touching the sides.

Champagne flute

The champagne flute is an elegant glass that helps preserve carbonation and enhances aroma, making it perfect for serving bubbly cocktails like Death in the Afternoon. Choosing the right type of champagne flute can make a huge difference in your cocktail experience.

When selecting a champagne flute, look for one with a long stem to keep your hands from warming up the drink too quickly. The bowl should be tall and narrow with enough room at the top to hold several ounces of liquid while still allowing enough space for bubbles to form.

In addition, make sure that your champagne flutes are clean and dry before using them to serve this cocktail. Any residue or moisture from previous use could affect taste and presentation.

Fine-tuning Your Technique

Tips for Using an Absinthe Spoon

  • Use chilled water when dripping it into your absinthe. This will help preserve the flavors and aromas of the alcohol.
  • Hold your absinthe spoon at a 45-degree angle to let the water slowly drip onto the absinthe, allowing it to release its unique flavor profile gradually.
  • If you want a sweeter taste, place a sugar cube on top of your absinthe spoon before dripping in the water. The sugar will dissolve and add sweetness to your drink.

Tips for Choosing Your Champagne Flute

  • Choose a high-quality champagne flute with thin walls, which allows you to see the bubbles forming inside and enhances the aroma of your cocktail. Thick glass can mute both flavors and appearance.
  • When pouring champagne into your flute, tilt it slightly to one side and pour down along one edge of it. This technique helps preserve carbonation and prevents overfilling or spilling.
  • Avoid using flutes that are too wide or shallow, as they do not allow enough space for bubbles to form or for proper stirring with the absinthe spoon.

Steps to Make Death in the Afternoon Cocktail

Making the Death in the Afternoon cocktail is a relatively simple process that requires only two basic ingredients: absinthe and champagne. To create this classic cocktail, start by pouring a small amount of absinthe into a champagne flute. The amount of absinthe used can vary depending on personal preference, but most recipes call for about one ounce per serving.

Next, place an absinthe spoon over the top of the glass. This special spoon is designed to hold a sugar cube and allow champagne to slowly drip through it into the glass.

While not necessary for making this cocktail, using an absinthe spoon can enhance the overall experience and add an element of tradition to your drink. Once you have your spoon in place, slowly pour chilled champagne over it and into the glass.

The slow pour ensures that all of the flavors blend together smoothly and creates a visually appealing effect as bubbles rise up through the greenish-yellow liquid in your glass. Give your cocktail a gentle stir with your spoon before serving.

Death in the Afternoon Recipe

Tips for Making Perfect Death in the Afternoon Cocktail

While making Death in the Afternoon is relatively straightforward, there are several tips you can follow to ensure that your drink comes out perfectly every time. First and foremost, use high-quality ingredients whenever possible. For example, choose an artisanal absinthe or vintage champagne if you want to take things up a notch.

Another important tip is to chill both your absinthe and champagne before using them. This helps ensure that everything blends together smoothly while also creating an optimal drinking temperature for this refreshing summer cocktail.

If you prefer a sweeter taste or want to mimic Hemingway’s original recipe more closely, consider adding a sugar cube to your cocktail while stirring it with your spoon. This will help balance out some of bitterness from the absinthe and create a more complex flavor profile.


Learning how to make Death in the Afternoon is an important skill for any cocktail enthusiast. This classic drink is not only delicious but also steeped in history and tradition, making it a fun conversation starter at any party or social gathering. By following our simple steps and tips, you can easily create a perfectly balanced Death in the Afternoon cocktail that will impress your guests and leave them wanting more.

So why not give it a try at your next get-together? Just remember to always drink responsibly!

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