Koktail Kicks: Death in the Afternoon

Koktail Magazine

18 Nov 2022

Your weekly spill-all on classic cocktails—their origin stories, their ingredients, and why we love them

As issue 4 of Koktail Magazine comes out this week (Yahay!!) with a celebration theme, it is only right that we introduce you to a classic cocktail with a similar concept - a celebratory concoction, for which we need to include Champagne. And one cocktail, in particular, stands out when we talk about the fizzy drink - Death in the Afternoon.

The name conjures fear in the heart, Death in the Afternoon contains only two ingredients, absinthe and Champagne. This fizzy green cocktail originated from the one and only master of cocktails Ernest Hemingway. Death in the Afternoon was a novel he wrote in 1932 about bullfighting. As the story goes, Hemingway made this drink after enjoying absinthe in France and he later featured it in his contribution to a 1935 cocktail book “So Red the Nose, or Breath in the Afternoon” that collected recipes from 30 celebrity authors.

In the book, he wrote clear instructions on how to make the drink by saying: "Pour one jigger of absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.” He might have added, “then die gracefully”.

This bubbly green cocktail is great for an amateur absinthe drinker to try as the bubbly smooths out the strong anise and botanical flavour of absinthe, but it's certainly not for the faint-hearted. If you have something to celebrate this weekend, perhaps try one as your first drink of the night, or afternoon, but we suggest please be mindful of the name - Hemingway was warning us of the consequences when he created this incredible cocktail.