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Flying Frenchman Recipe: Absinthe Coffee Cocktail

two flying frenchman drinks

If you’re tired of generic espresso martinis and are looking for a new, exciting coffee cocktail, look no further than the Flying Frenchman. The most common Flying Frenchman recipe calls for equal parts absinthe, espresso, and coffee liqueur, but there are a few different ways to make it depending on what you’re going for.

We’ll teach you how to make the original recipe and a few popular variations in this short guide. We will also give you a list of our favorite choices for absinthe and coffee liqueur.

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How to Make Absinthe Coffee:

The simplest way to make a Flying Frenchman is by combining equal parts absinthe, espresso, and coffee liqueur. For one drink, we prefer to use an ounce of each.

Basic Recipe

  1. Combine absinthe, coffee liqueur, and espresso in a shaker with ice. Shake until the drink is very cold; at least 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  2. Strain into a chilled glass.
  3. Garnish with three coffee beans for added flair.

This basic drink is somewhat strong owing to the absinthe. In general, absinthe is higher proof than vodka, often well over 100 proof. A standard drink is usually made from 80-proof liquor, making the Flying Frenchman about 1.5 times stronger than average. Keep in mind that the Flying Frenchman also contains coffee liqueur, which is around 40 proof.

We recommend taking it easy with these and limiting consumption to only one per sitting since they are quite strong.

flying frenchman
Image Credit: Pixabay

Choosing Absinthe and Coffee Liqueur

Best Absinthe for Making a Flying Frenchman

Which absinthe you use has the biggest impact on your drink’s flavor? Absinthe is known for having a potent, often overwhelming herbal flavor. If you don’t like the taste of absinthe, you probably won’t like a Flying Frenchman since the absinthe provides the dominant flavor.

Here is a list of some of our favorite absinthes:

1. St. George Absinthe Verte

This is a great choice for people looking for no-frills absinthe. It’s readily available, reasonably priced, and a good example of what absinthe is all about.

2. Leopold Brothers Absinthe Verte

A more exotic choice than the St. George, Leopold Brothers uses traditional processes to make absinthe. They use grapes as the base for fermentation and add anise, wormwood, and fennel later. They also steep the distilled absinthe in lemon balm and hyssop for additional flavor.

3. Tenneyson Absinthe Royale

This is a clear absinthe that uses beets as the base. It is a very clean-drinking absinthe, making it the best choice for people that don’t want extra flavors in their drink.

van gogh absinthe
Image Credit: Pixabay

Best Coffee Liqueur for Making a Flying Frenchman

The other important ingredient appearing alongside absinthe in the Flying Frenchman is a coffee liqueur. There is less variation between coffee liqueurs than absinthes, but which you choose will still have a small effect on your drink.

Here’s our list of favorite coffee liqueurs for making Flying Frenchmans.

1. Kahlua

This is the most popular coffee liqueur overall for a reason. Nearly everyone with a well-stocked liquor cabinet has Kahlua, and it works well in the Flying Frenchman. We like to use Kahlua with the St. George absinthe when making someone their first Flying Frenchman since it gives them a solid baseline to compare more exotic absinthe and coffee liqueur pairings.

2. Mr. Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur

If you want something a little more robust and a little sweeter than Kahlua, go with Mr. Black. It’s smooth enough to drink on its own and works well in cocktails, making it perfect for a Flying Frenchman.

3. Leopold Brothers Coffee Liqueur

Made by the same Leopold Brothers that make our number two absinthe, this coffee liqueur is bold and textured, sort of like French press coffee. Unsurprisingly, it pairs well with Leopold Brothers absinthe.

Coffee liqueur with cream

The Myth of Absinthe and Hallucination

We should mention that any concerns over drinking absinthe due to hallucinations are unwarranted. For many years, rumors circulated that absinthe can cause hallucinations, largely due to prominent figures like Picasso and Edgar Allen Poe supporting those rumors based on anecdotal evidence.

The truth is that while absinthe does contain trace amounts of the psychoactive chemical thujone, it doesn’t contain nearly enough to induce hallucinations. A more feasible explanation behind the persistent rumors—and likely what drove Picasso and Poe to support them—is absinthe’s high alcohol content. Since absinthe is nearly twice as strong as standard liquor, it is exceptionally easy to become extremely inebriated, leading to all kinds of impaired senses.

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two flying frenchman drinks

Flying Frenchman Cocktail

The simplest way to make a Flying Frenchman is by combining equal parts absinthe, espresso, and coffee liqueur. For one drink, we prefer to use an ounce of each.
5 star average
Prep Time 3 minutes
Shaking Time 1 minute
Total Time 4 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1 cocktail(s)
Calories 100 kcal


  • Cocktail shaker
  • Chilled glass



  • Combine absinthe, coffee liqueur, and espresso in a shaker with ice. Shake until the drink is very cold; at least 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Strain into a chilled glass.
  • Garnish with three coffee beans for added flair.


Calories: 100kcal
Keyword absinthe, coffee cocktail, flying frenchman cocktail

Featured Image Credit: Alexander Prokopenko, Shutterstock


Sean Brennan

Sean’s obsession with coffee started when he received his first French press as a gift almost ten years ago. Since then, his love of coffee – and the number of coffee gadgets he owns – has grown considerably. A scientist by training, there is no stone he has left unturned in the never-ending quest for the perfect cup of coffee. He has spent many hours tuning his pour-over technique, thinking about how to best compare grind quality, and worrying about whether the Nicaraguan or Kenyan beans will make the best cold brew. These days he favors the Hario V60, and starts each day by hand grinding his coffee before enjoying a cup prepared with care and attention to detail.

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