Death in the Afternoon

Look, if you’ve clicked on a cocktail recipe called ‘Death in the Afternoon’, you and I both know you’re not messing around; It’s Friday, we’re feeling fabulous and frisky so let’s get down to brass tacks and talk about this wonderful insanity of a drink.

Consisting of a mere 2 ingredients, this might be one of the easiest drinks on the website to make – heck, you don’t even have to shake them! In fact, definitely don’t shake them, I doubt the champagne would take too kindly to that sort of rough action even on a Friday night (hey-oooh). The combination of Pernod and Champagne might seem bizarre at first, but trust me; it plays. It’s super strong and fragrant with anise – as you would expect from Pernod – but it also looks incredible too; you can see from the image below that the 2 ingredients, once combined, turn into an opaque and milky mixture. This reaction is called ‘spontaneous emulsification’ or ‘The Ouzo Effect’ and occurs when water is poured into anise-based spirits, such as Pernod, Ouzo or Absinthe. To be honest if you told me a drink spontaneously did anything, i’d have to try one on sheer principle.

As with all Pernod drinks, there’s a slight numbing effect on your mouth – to make this cocktail just that bit more absurd – so I would avoid drinking this whilst eating, but it would definitely be a good after dinner talking point, or one to have with friends on a Friday night, hint hint nudge nudge.

This cocktail is also sometimes known as ‘Hemingway Champagne’ as it was a favourite tipple of Ernest Hemingway; you may have noticed it even shares a name with one of his books. The original was made with Absinthe and Champagne, but in recent years Pernod has become recognised as a good substitution for absinthe which up until a few years ago was still difficult to buy, although it seems to be in the middle of being reintroduced to supermarkets. Still, if you don’t have absinthe I would recommend just using Pernod instead.

Hemingway’s instructions for drinking Death In the Afternoon were simple: “Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly”. The operative word there being “slowly”; if you try and chug this, you will not be a pretty sight afterwards. Three to five of these might be a bit much, unless you’re feeling daring, but it’s good enough for Hemingway, who are we to argue?


What even.

The Recipe:

♦  1 ½ ounces Pernod

♦  3 to 5 ounces chilled champagne

Pour the Pernod into a chilled champagne flute (I would recommend quite a large one) and then gently twist the glass around to coat it with the Pernod. Once coated, pour in chilled champagne until it becomes milky, and remember: do not stir. Enjoy!

Thoughts, feedback or have your own recipe? Let us know here!