This gorgeous little flower of an aperitif cocktail has a simple but obscure history. Dating back to Hugo Ensslin’s 1916 book Recipes for Mixed Drinks, the Chrysanthemum finds itself historically situated right up against both Prohibition and the wave of national bans against one of its three ingredients: absinthe. The cocktail reappears in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930 and again in Boothby’s 1934 edition of The World’s Drinks and How to Mix Them. Though a handful of articles have been written about this cocktail in the last decade, information about it is fairly limited to its unfortunate placement in history and a single anecdote made by Craddock, who tells us it was famous in one bar on one trans-Atlantic ocean liner in the late 20s.
This cocktail focuses on the delicate balance between herbs and sweetness, with a low proof from its vermouth base, a small bit of Benedictine, and a few dashes of absinthe. The absinthe goes a long way and welcomes the drink onto the palate. For that reason, we’ve included the Chrysanthemum in our “I Heart Absinthe” cocktail flight, where it joins the Corpse Reviver No. 2 and the Absinthe Frappé.