Cocktail calls for a dash of absinthe. OK to leave it out or substitute?
May 11, 2020 11:28 AM   Subscribe

I have all the ingredients needed to make a Corpse Reviver No. 2, except for absinthe (or pastis). Nor do I currently have any other anise-flavored liqueurs around, and would prefer not to buy one just to make this drink. I don't have any anise seed either. What I DO have is star anise. Can I use that instead? If so, how? Boil a pod in some water for it a bit, and use some of that water? Or how about if I just skip the absinthe, since only a dash is called for??
posted by Mechitar to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Anethole is soluble in alcohol but not in water. This is why absinthe, pastis, sambuca, &c. all cloud up when you dilute them with water. It's the anethole coming out of solution.

The good news is that making infusions with dried spices is super fast and easy! And, for some people such as myself, fun!


Anise or star anise
Neutral spirit (e.g., vodka, everclear)
some sugar

Stuff some star anise in a jar with the neutral sprit, wait 24h. If you used something real strong, dilute it down the the ABV you want, sweeten it to taste, mix it up good, run it through a coffee filter or cheesecloth or old but clean t-shirt. Store in an airtight jar.

Make as much or as little as you want.
posted by aubilenon at 11:44 AM on May 11, 2020 [8 favorites]

As an aside that I wrote and then deleted but now wish I had said: anethole is the flavory compound in anise and star anise, but the two plants are not related. They taste the same and star anise is a lot cheaper to grow / harvest, so it's largely replaced conventional anise for a lot of applications. And dang don't those star shaped seed pods look nice!
posted by aubilenon at 11:47 AM on May 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

That is our go to brunch cocktail! It'd definitely be a different drink without the absinthe. A good absinthe had an herbal component with the anise flavor, and a little bit goes a long way.

Have you had a corpse reviver no 2 before? If so, I think you'd be a bit disappointed in an absintheless one. Maybe making an infusion with the star anise (as mentioned above) would scratch the itch at least. And if it's a new to you cocktail then you won't know you what you're missing, so you can make it your own.
posted by ghost phoneme at 11:50 AM on May 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

In all honesty, I don’t think the star anise flavor would work here. It would be more of a warm earthy flavor, and the absinthe has a more of a fresh green thing going for it. For a corpse reviver, you would normally spritz the glass with an atomizer, so you get the smallest hit of absinthe, and it’s more aroma than an essential component of the drink.
If you do want to try something different, I think fennel would be good here, do you have any fennel (fresh or seeds) to make an infusion?
But, yes, you can just skip the absinthe, it’ll be delicious either way.
posted by Champagne Supernova at 11:58 AM on May 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

I looked at a recipe for CR2 and with gin, orange liqueur, lillet, and lemon juice, the drink would be flavourful w/o the absinthe. Yes, not as good. But I'd drink a manhattan even if I was out of bitters. It's better with bitters, but it would still be damn good.

You didn't mention these: do you have sambuca or ouzo? Also anise flavoured.
posted by tmdonahue at 12:20 PM on May 11, 2020

I'm not even a big licorice/anise family flavor fan but it's such an important element in that drink. I concur with others that an infusion of star anise in alcohol would benefit the drink; it may not be exactly accurate but the semi-bitter medicinal quality that star anise would provide is an underpinning note of the cocktail.

If you want to speed up the process you could always throw some ground up star anise into a jar with vodka if you have it and shake it daily. After a few days strain it through a coffee filter. I'd store it out of light in a cool place if possible.
posted by Ferreous at 12:22 PM on May 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Hell, if you want to get rowdy I'd say other common spirits could take an infusion from star anise to help build up the cocktail. Bourbon/whiskey, gin, maybe even a white rum with a strong enough infusion of star anise could create a cocktail that is both approximate to a CR°2 but also it's own distinct personality.
posted by Ferreous at 12:26 PM on May 11, 2020

ALSO: I noted from your profile that you are from Chicago, do you perhaps have a bottle of Malort lying around? Wormwood is a component of absinthe and also Malort! An infusion of star anise in malort would be a really interesting note to inject into a CR°2.

Sorry for my repeated posts but it's a favorite cocktail of mine and I'm a big fan of improvisation.
posted by Ferreous at 12:31 PM on May 11, 2020

We actually just the day before yesterday made CR2s subbing a dash of Fernet Branca (bitter, medicinal) for the absinthe rinse. I’ve never had the original version (or absinthe at all), so I don’t know how our version compares, but we drank it very happily.
posted by bluebird at 12:39 PM on May 11, 2020

@aubilenon, thanks for the infusion advice. I've already got one started with star anise. @champagne supernova, I do have fennel seeds, and per your advice I've started an infusion of that as well. I'll try the drink with both infusions. Why not? It'll be an interesting experiment. @ferreous, Chicagoan or no, I wouldn't have Malort around unless someone had given me a bottle as a gag gift!
posted by Mechitar at 12:43 PM on May 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

If you want to speed up the process you could always throw some ground up star anise into a jar with vodka if you have it and shake it daily. After a few days strain it through a coffee filter.

You shouldn't need to infuse whole pods more than 18 or 24 hours. The biggest downside to grinding them up is it just makes them clog up the filter and makes that step take a while. I've made a lot of infusions, and generally if I can keep the plant cells intact, it's the difference between filtering taking hours or minutes. If you're just making a real small amount, it's probably not very significant, but again, dried spices typically infuse so quickly it's not really worth trying to speed it up anyway.
posted by aubilenon at 12:45 PM on May 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

If you're using ground-up stuff, you can do it bouquet garnis-style where you wrap the spices in the filter, e.g. coffee filter, and tie it up, like a little teabag. Trim excess material after tying, drop it in your jar of neutral spirit, and seal it up for the duration.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:06 PM on May 11, 2020

I have made many Corpse Revivers without absinthe. It's a perfectly good cocktail without it.
posted by less of course at 2:20 PM on May 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

It’s one of my favorites, but my wife will only drink it without the absinthe (I use Pernod) rinse. It’s still good without it if you like sours in general.
posted by rustcellar at 7:54 PM on May 11, 2020

Pernod is cheaper and easily available. Plus if this is all you're using it for it'll last you a lifetime. Corpse Reviver #2 is maybe my favorite cocktail of all time. I have to say it won't be the same without the anise.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:15 AM on May 12, 2020

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