Well before I dined at ArtBar in conjunction with an overnight stay at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, I attended an event to launch their signature Absinthe Hour program featuring cocktails made with La Clandestine Absinthe Superior.
La Clandestine is Europe's leading absinthe producer and the only brand who hand crafts the spirit in its birthplace, the Swiss village of Couvet. In addition to sampling expertly crafted cocktails and nibbling on delicious bites from ArtBar's spring menu, we learned a lot about the history of absinthe and its mythical (essentially non existent) but commonly associated "green fairy" inducing properties. We also sipped absinthe in its traditional, yet exquisitely eye catching form, where a classic metal dripper is used to slowly mix cold water with the spirit, releasing its essential oils as it turns cloudy.
From 5-6pm daily, Absinthe Hour is ArtBars devotion to crafting unique beverages with the wonderfully herbaceous, anise flavored spirit. Their bartenders have a keen sense of just how absinthe enhances modern mixes and classic cocktails. The East Meets West combining absinthe, batavia arrack (an Indonesian rum) and egg whites with lemon, demerara and a touch of walnut bitters was frothy, smooth and sophisticated. I also adored the Old School Punch, where the absinthe's fragrant and distinctive wormwood blossom essence was enhanced by Haymans Old Tom Gin and rounded out with the addition of Oleo-Saccharum. And whats all that booze with out some inventive bar bites to pair alongside? Their perfectly crispy sweet potato tots are not to be missed, and their deep fried mac and cheese roll with a velvety truffle fondue sauce will not disappoint!
Special thanks to Alan Moss, the Clandestine representative and author of The Real Absinthe Blog for a fun and informative presentation!