Harry “The Dean” Johnson is one of the most influential barkeepers of our times. Little Harry was born in 1845 in Germany but emigrated to the United States soon after in 1852. Like many thousands of Germans his parents and his sister Martha sought a better life in the new world.
In the age of 15 Harry was already mixing drinks at the Union Hotel in San Francisco. Blessed by a great talent he impressed people with creative drinks and decided to publish a “bar manual”, the first of its arts: “The drinks I invented and the way I mixed them attracted many patrons to the bar, and I had so many requests from other bartenders to how I made this or that drink that I wrote a little book which I called the ‘Bartenders’ Manual’.” The first edition of Harry Johnson’s Bartenders’ Manual was published in 1882, but this iconic book is still being reprinted to this day. Especially significant about Harry´s book is, that it is not limited on cocktail recipes. He also articulates how to be a bartender (not just what to make). Of course some recommendations have the signature of the 19th century, but many wisdoms still apply today.
On page 176 of his book Harry writes about the way, Americans like to mix/drink their Absinthe. Therefore his book is a very good historical evidence about the Absinthe culture in the USA before Prohibition. In general he writes “The Americans are not in the habit of drinking absinthe like the French are, but a drink of it occassionally will huert nobody.” Below you find a pciture of the cited page describing the creation of a “Frozen Absinthe”. We tried this American way of mixing Absinthe ourself and choose Absinthe Moulin Vert as a mixer. Important for a frozen Absinthe is, that you use enough sugar. In the recipe Harry mentions “6 or 7 dashes of gum syrup”. This was a sugar syrup used at this time. At ALANDIA you can buy this historical syrup as well.
As we were so positively surprised of this drink, we chose to make Moulin Vert our Absinthe of the Month. Every bottle comes with a free high quality tumbler glass which is best for serving a Frozen Absinthe. Cheers!
Recipe for a “Frozen Absinthe” by Harry Johnson:
- 3/4 glassful of fine ice
- 6 or 7 dashes of gum syrup (sugar syrup)
- 1 pony-glass of absinthe (1 shot glass)
- 2 wine glasses of water (we used a bit less)
Then shake the ingredients, until the outside of the shaker is covered with ice; strain it into large bar glass, and serve.