Death in the Afternoon

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Published: 02/12/24

death in the afternoon
Table of Contents

The Death in the Afternoon cocktail, also referred to as Hemingway Champagne is crafted from a mixture of absinthe and Champagne.

The cocktail owes its creation to Ernest Hemingway, a luminary in the literary world celebrated for his venturesome lifestyle and impactful literary works. The cocktail’s name echoes his 1932 book, which delves into the ceremonial practices of Spanish bullfighting.

Hemingway’s penchant for the bold and the spirited found a new expression in this cocktail, which first saw the light of day in the cocktail book “So Red the Nose, or Breath in the Afternoon” published in 1935, and written by 30 leading authors. The recipe’s inclusion in this collection marked the official introduction of Death in the Afternoon to the world, offering a drink that encapsulates Hemingway’s love for life’s deeper flavors and intense experiences.

Hemingway’s own words serve as a testament to the cocktail’s intended experience: “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.” This straightforward yet precise instruction underscores the simplicity and depth of the cocktail, emphasizing the careful balance between the absinthe’s herbal complexity and the Champagne’s effervescence. The directive to enjoy the drink slowly is not just a suggestion for moderation but an invitation to savor the layers of flavor and the nuances that define this iconic cocktail.

The origins of Death in the Afternoon are traced back to Hemingway’s time in the Left Bank of Paris, a period marked by the author’s exploration of the city culture and its culinary delights. The narrative surrounding its invention further colors the drink with a touch of adventure and camaraderie, as Hemingway claimed it was invented alongside three officers of H.M.S, during an endeavor to rescue Captain Bra Saunders’ fishing boat amidst a gale. This tale of creativity born from a challenging situation encapsulates the spirit of resilience and innovation that Hemingway admired.

In the contemporary cocktail landscape, Death in the Afternoon stands out as a testament to the enduring legacy of its inventor and the timeless appeal of its composition. Its unique flavor profile, marked by the opalescent milkiness that Hemingway described, offers a sensory experience that is both luxurious and introspective.

The cocktail’s name, evocative of Hemingway’s exploration of themes such as bravery, mortality, and the beauty of life’s fleeting moments, adds a layer of philosophical depth to the drinking experience. When sipping this cocktail, one is not just indulging in a great beverage but engaging with a piece of cultural history, a connection to a time, and a personality that has left an indelible mark on the world.

Death in the Afternoon Recipe

  1. 45 ml absinthe

  2. 135 ml Champagne, chilled, to top

death in the afternoon cocktail

How to Make a Death in the Afternoon Cocktail

  1. Pour the absinthe into a coupe glass.

  2. Top off with Champagne.