A Balancing Act: The Attention Cocktail


The old cocktail recipe books are a gold mine of information and many a great recipe grace their time-honored pages. The original Attention Cocktail emerges in all its glory, like Venus from her shell, from Hugo Ensslin’s Recipes for Mixed Drinks, 1916. It is composed of equal parts gin, vermouth, Crème de Violette, and absinthe, and its taste is the audio equivalent of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata played by the Sex Pistols. Did folks back in the day actually enjoy this drink? The drink is a train wreck. That much absinthe in any mixed drink is just asking for the Green Fairy to take you by the collar and ram your head into a wall.

All is not lost. We can still pull something usable from the wreckage. The idea is a good one; it just needs a more deft touch: Errol Flynn with a rapier, not Andrea the Giant with a rock. The gin and vermouth base with a dash of orange bitters is a classic martini. To that we want to add a suggestion of other flavors so as not to disturb the balance of the other ingredients which are perfectly happy on their own. The Crème de Violette adds a light, sweet floral note which floats above the vermouth’s more earthy botanicals. The absinthe brings its own very distinct flavor profile to the drink and must be used in moderation or it will simply take over the cocktail. If you don’t have absinthe or are unable to get it in your area, use one of the others anise-flavored liqueurs such as Herbsaint or Pernod. This version comes from cocktail guru, Robert Hess.Balancing act

Attention Cocktail                    

1 ½ oz Gin

¾ oz Dry Vermouth

¼ oz Crème de Violette

2 dashes Absinthe                                                  

2 dashes Orange Bitters 

Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

“To put everything in balance is good; to put everything in harmony is better” ― Victor Hugo

Thanks Vic. This round’s on me.

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Bottoms up!