The Phoebe Snow cocktail recipe was named after a fictional character from a railroad advertising campaign. The story claimed that her dress remained white as snow because her train ran on anthracite instead of regular coal. Presumably, if she’d had a signature cocktail, this would have been it.
This drink recipe dates back to at least 1941, but don’t expect your average bartender to know how to make it. Many bars don’t stock Dubonnet, either. It’s a bitter form of red wine flavored with quinine, along with other herbs and spices. It’s not too bitter – it’s along the lines of Campari, with the bitter notes being mostly overwhelmed by the sweeter ones.
The Phoebe Snow is sophisticated and unique, with flavors of anise and herbal spice shaking up the smoothness of the cognac. The recipe calls for absinthe, which probably explains why it declined in popularity in the United States.
Absinthe was banned for many years because of exaggerated reports of hallucinations and other trippy effects. While absinthe does have a high-proof, it has no worse effects for you than any other spirit. In any case, this recipe only calls for a dash of it.
This recipe also calls for cognac, but you don’t need to break out a high priced bottle. For cocktails, Hennessy VS works very well. It has a great flavor and it goes down smooth.
The Phoebe Snow is a very old classic cocktail featuring Dubonnet Rouge, cognac and absinthe. It's unique and sophisticated, with a flavor profile that can take a few sips to get used to, but then you get it.
- 1 1/2 ounces cognac
- 1 1/2 ounces Dubonnet Rouge
- Dash absinthe (or 2 dashes Pernod Pastis, if absinthe isn't available)
- Fill a cocktail shaker all the way with ice.
- Pour in the ingredients.
- Shake well until chilled.
- Pour into a red wine or martini glass. Or Nick and Nora glasses, as used here.