It’s only been open for two years, but Salut Kitchen Bar has already made quite the name for itself in Tempe. Offering a mix of Mediterranean and American cuisine, inventive cocktails, great wines and excellent craft beers, Salut is also much loved for their relaxed, stylish environment and patio.
But for this month’s Mad Mixologist, bartender Cameron Gutierrez wanted to highlight another one of their offerings: absinthe.
A highly alcoholic (usually between 100 and 160 proof) spirit, absinthe is anise or black licorice flavored and is made from botanicals, herbs and wormwood. It became a hugely popular drink in the late 19th and early 20th century due to the hallucinogenic properties found in the wormwood. From 1912 to 2007, absinthe was banned in the US and was only allowed back in because the chemical in the wormwood that causes hallucinations was removed.
The Entertainer!: Can you explain the traditional drip process?
Gutierrez: The cup is filled with a shot of absinthe. We then place the sugar cube on the slotted spoon and slowly drip ice cold water over the sugar cube so that it falls into the absinthe. This process is actually called louching and allows the sugar and water to evenly dissolve in the absinthe. The final drink will be one part absinthe to about two to five parts water.
How have your customers reacted to trying it?
Most of them aren’t expecting how strong it is. They are intrigued by the drip, but I don’t have very many repeat customers for it. It seems to be a one time thing but it is a fun experience.
What is your preferred way to drink absinthe?
In addition to the drip, we also have several absinthe cocktails. One of those, the “Death in the Afternoon” is my favorite. It is ¾ of an ounce of absinthe in a glass of champagne. It is actually how Ernest Hemingway preferred to drink it. I would suggest that customers try absinthe in a cocktail for their first time. It is actually suggested to be an after-dinner digestif and to be sipped—not taken like a shot!
Salut Kitchen Bar, 1435 E. University Drive, Tempe, 480.625.3600, salutkitchenbar.com