B here. When absinthe became legal again in the U.S. last year, M was overjoyed. I–less so. I remembered sipping from my mom’s Pernod when I was little, and the anise taste was nasty in my book. Plus, what sane person wants to drink a libation containing wormwood? M did. I broke down and offered to buy him some absinthe for a Valentine’s Day gift, and he chose Lucid. I had a small sip of his Lucid absinthe on ice so that it would louche, meaning the essential oils came out of solution, and I was not impressed. Imagine my concern when a few days later M offered to make cocktails, and when I inquired as to the specific cocktail, I was told it would be “a surprise.” He brought me a Monkey Gland; a cocktail name that did not inspire confidence. In addition, it was the same color as my neon red Prismacolor colored pencil. Is it OK to drink neon?
In fact, I am sorry to say that the Monkey Gland is quite tasty. I wouldn’t put it in my top 5, but maybe my top 10 cocktails (the superb Oriental takes the current top spot). The Monkey Gland is a little sweet, but the anise flavor from the absinthe is quite tasty and not overpowering, at least with the Lucid absinthe. M made the Monkey Glands a second time using absinthe from St. George Spirits of Alameda, California, (we had visited the distillery), and it was much sweeter. That version made me think of black jelly beans with every sip. So I can recommend the Monkey Gland with the Lucid absinthe but not the St. George. As to which absinthe is better straight up, that you will have to wait to hear from M; I’ll try to get him to do a post on that.
We got the recipe for the Monkey Gland from the January/February 2008 issue of Imbibe magazine, a wonderful periodical about all sorts of things to drink: beer, wine, distilled spirits, coffees, teas. They even picked my favorite root beer as the best root beer: Sprecher (these people know their beverages!).
The Monkey Gland
1.5 oz. gin
1.5 oz. fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 tsp. grenadine
1 tsp. absinthe
Pour ingredients into shaker and fill with ice. Shake 1o seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and serve.
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What would you think about substituting white Sambuca (which I have) for the absinthe (which I don’t)? Would that be much too sweet?
In an ideal world, I would have a Ferrari, my wife would have some who did the dishes more reliably and this cocktail would have Absinthe. With that said, I would guess that if you went with a scant teaspoon of Sambuca, it would be a close approximation. A dash of orange or other bitters might help add a hair bit of an edge as well.
Good luck. Let us know if you decide to try it.