Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon


Photo of author
Written By cocktailflavors.com
Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon_001

Introduction to Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon

Embark on a journey through time with Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon, a cocktail that promises both elegance and a punch. This sparkling concoction is a blend of the anise-flavored absinthe and the effervescence of chilled Champagne. It’s a drink that tells a story, one that’s deeply intertwined with literary history and the bold character of its creator, Ernest Hemingway.

With its simple yet sophisticated flavor profile, this cocktail is perfect for those who appreciate the finer things in life. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply looking to unwind, Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon offers a unique sipping experience. Let’s raise a glass to the past and savor the taste of this timeless classic.

As we delve into the details of this iconic drink, you’ll discover not just the method to its creation, but also the history and nuances that make it a standout choice for connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike. So, prepare your Champagne flutes and get ready to indulge in a cocktail that’s as intriguing as its name suggests.

Key Facts About Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon

  • Alcohol Volume: Approximately 22% ABV
  • Calories: Roughly 220 kcal per serving
  • Glass Type: Traditionally served in a Champagne flute
  • Garnish: None required, simplicity is key

Interesting Facts about Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon

Ernest Hemingway’s Legacy: The cocktail’s creator, Hemingway, was not only a Nobel Prize-winning author but also known for his love of strong drinks.

Prohibition Era Creation: Despite being created during a time of strict alcohol regulations, this cocktail has stood the test of time.

Literary Connection: The name of the cocktail is a direct reference to Hemingway’s non-fiction work, which explores the ceremonial spectacle of Spanish bullfighting.

Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon Cocktail

Tasting Notes for Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon

The first sip of Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon reveals a complex interplay between the herbal notes of absinthe and the crispness of Champagne. The anise flavor is prominent but balanced, ensuring that it doesn’t overpower the delicate bubbles and dryness of the sparkling wine.

This cocktail is not for the faint of heart, given its high alcohol content. It’s a favorite among those who appreciate a strong, yet refined drink. Ideal for toasting to achievements or serving at a sophisticated soirée, this cocktail exudes a sense of celebration and literary flair.

Whether enjoyed as a bold aperitif or a leisurely afternoon delight, Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon is a versatile choice that caters to various palates and occasions. Its simplicity in preparation belies the depth of flavor waiting to be explored.

History of Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon

The origins of Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon are as captivating as the drink itself. Created by Ernest Hemingway, the cocktail first appeared in a 1935 collection of celebrity recipes. It was during this era that Hemingway was living in Key West, Florida, a time marked by his adventurous lifestyle and literary success.

The cocktail’s name is a direct homage to Hemingway’s 1932 book, “Death in the Afternoon,” which details the rituals and traditions of Spanish bullfighting. The drink, much like the book, captures the essence of Hemingway’s bold and unapologetic approach to life.

Hemingway’s instructions for the cocktail were characteristically straightforward, with an emphasis on adjusting the Champagne to achieve the desired milky appearance. His suggestion to drink three to five of these slowly speaks to the leisurely pace at which life should be savored, according to the author.

Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon Ingredients

  • Absinthe (1 1/2 ounces or 45 ml): This potent spirit is known for its anise flavor and has a storied history of its own, often associated with artistic and literary figures.
  • Chilled Champagne (4 1/2 ounces or 135 ml): The Champagne adds effervescence and a touch of elegance, balancing the strong flavor of absinthe with its crisp and bubbly character.

Did you know?

“Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon not only reflects the author’s taste but also his penchant for ritual and tradition in the drinking experience.”

Preparing Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon

Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon Method

The preparation of Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon is as simple as it is precise. Begin by chilling your Champagne flute to ensure the drink stays cold and refreshing.

Measure out the absinthe using a jigger and pour it into the flute. The absinthe serves as the foundation of the cocktail, setting the stage for the flavors to come.

Carefully top the absinthe with chilled Champagne, watching as it transforms into the signature opalescent milky color. The pour should be gentle to maintain the Champagne’s effervescence.

While stirring is optional, a gentle swirl can help integrate the absinthe with the Champagne, creating a harmonious blend. Serve the cocktail immediately to enjoy its full spectrum of flavors.

Serving Suggestion for Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon

The choice of glassware is crucial for Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon. A Champagne flute is preferred for its tall, narrow shape, which enhances the visual appeal and preserves the carbonation of the Champagne.

No garnish is necessary for this cocktail, as the focus should remain on the drink’s purity and the interplay between its two ingredients. The absence of garnish also pays homage to Hemingway’s minimalist approach.

Elevating Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon

  • Quality Ingredients: Opt for high-quality absinthe and a reputable brand of Champagne to ensure the best taste experience.
  • Proper Temperature: Both the absinthe and Champagne should be well-chilled to enhance the drink’s refreshing qualities.
  • Visual Presentation: Aim for the perfect opalescent milkiness, which not only signifies a well-made cocktail but also adds to its allure.

Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon Served

Substitutions and Alternatives for Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon

If absinthe is not available, consider using pastis or another anise-flavored liqueur as a substitute. While the flavor profile will differ slightly, the essence of the cocktail will remain.

For those who prefer a less alcoholic version, sparkling wine can replace Champagne. This alternative will still provide the necessary bubbles and a similar taste experience.

Similar cocktails that share the spirit of Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon include the Sazerac and the French 75, both of which also feature strong spirits balanced by other components.

Add a Twist to Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon

Infuse the absinthe with botanicals such as lavender or rosemary for an aromatic twist that complements the anise flavor.

Introduce a dash of simple syrup or a sugar cube to add a hint of sweetness, which can round out the sharpness of the absinthe.

Experiment with different types of sparkling wine, such as Prosecco or Cava, to explore variations in flavor and texture.

Preferred Liquors for Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon

When selecting absinthe, brands like Pernod Absinthe and St. George Absinthe Verte are highly regarded for their quality and authenticity.

For Champagne, consider classic houses such as Moët & Chandon or Veuve Clicquot, which offer the consistency and flavor profile ideal for this cocktail.

The choice of liquor can greatly influence the final taste of the cocktail, so selecting well-crafted options is key to achieving the best version of Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon.

Similar Cocktails to Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon

The French 75 is a close relative, combining gin with Champagne for a similarly effervescent and strong drink.

The Corpse Reviver #2 shares the herbal notes with its inclusion of absinthe, though it is lighter and more citrus-forward.

The Sazerac, another absinthe-laced classic, offers a more complex flavor profile with the addition of rye whiskey and bitters.

Food Pairings to Go with Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon

Classic pairings like oysters and caviar match the sophistication of Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon, enhancing its luxurious feel.

For a more casual approach, consider salty snacks such as marcona almonds or artisanal potato chips, which complement the cocktail’s crispness.

Adventurous pairings might include a rich, creamy blue cheese or a tangy goat cheese, both of which can stand up to the strong flavors of the drink.

Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon FAQs

Can I use any type of Champagne? While any sparkling wine can work, traditional Champagne is recommended for its quality and flavor profile.

Is Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon very strong? Yes, with an ABV of around 22%, it’s a potent cocktail best enjoyed in moderation.

How do I achieve the opalescent milkiness? Pour the Champagne slowly over the absinthe until you see a milky hue develop.

Can I add ice to the cocktail? It’s not traditional, but if you prefer a colder drink, use minimal ice to avoid dilution.

What food goes well with this cocktail? Light appetizers or salty snacks are great, but avoid overpowering the drink’s delicate flavors.

Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon_001

Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon

A potent and bubbly cocktail, Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon combines absinthe with chilled Champagne for a truly intoxicating experience. It is said to have been created by Ernest Hemingway himself and was first published in 1935 in a collection of celebrity cocktail recipes. Its name is a nod to Hemingway’s book "Death in the Afternoon."
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Cocktail
Servings 1 cocktail
Calories 220 kcal


  • Champagne flute
  • Measuring Jigger


  • 1 1/2 ounces absinthe
  • 4 1/2 ounces chilled Champagne


  • Pour the absinthe into a chilled Champagne flute.
  • Top with chilled Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness.
  • Stir gently if desired.
  • Serve immediately.


The ratio of absinthe to Champagne can be adjusted to taste. Hemingway’s original instructions suggested adding enough Champagne to make it "attain the proper opalescent milkiness," but he also noted that drinkers should "drink three to five of these slowly." Please enjoy responsibly.
Keyword absinthe, absinthe cocktail, champagne, Champagne Cocktail, Classic Cocktail, Cocktail, Ernest Hemingway, Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon, Sparkling Cocktail

Leave a Comment