Mellicent Teel

Written by Mellicent Teel

Modified & Updated: 03 Mar 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


The famous writer Ernest Hemingway once famously said, “Death in the Afternoon,” referring not only to the actual act of dying but also to his favorite cocktail. Death in the Afternoon is a drink that combines Champagne with a splash of absinthe, creating a unique and intriguing blend of flavors. But beyond the drink itself, there is much more to uncover about the concept of “Death in the Afternoon.” In this article, we will dive into 17 intriguing facts about Death in the Afternoon, exploring its origins, its cultural significance, and even its impact on Hemingway’s writing. So, grab a glass and join us on this journey as we unravel the mysteries behind Death in the Afternoon.

Key Takeaways:

  • Death in the Afternoon is a cocktail inspired by Hemingway’s love for bullfighting, with absinthe and sparkling wine creating a potent and mysterious concoction. It’s a toast to creativity and a symbol of adventure.
  • This iconic cocktail, with its unique aroma and historical significance, represents Hemingway’s unconventional spirit and is forever etched in the annals of cocktail history. It’s a tribute to the literary and cultural realms he passionately embraced.
Table of Contents

The Origin of the Name

Death in the Afternoon gets its name from the famous novel written by Ernest Hemingway, who was a fan of this distinct cocktail.

A Tribute to Bullfighting

This cocktail is a homage to the Spanish tradition of bullfighting, which held a special place in Hemingway’s heart.

The Hemingway Twist

Hemingway himself contributed to the creation of Death in the Afternoon by suggesting the use of absinthe as a key ingredient.

A Sinister Combination

This cocktail is made by combining absinthe and sparkling wine, creating a potent and mysterious concoction.

Paying Homage to Hemingway

Many bars and establishments across the world serve Death in the Afternoon as a tribute to the esteemed writer.

The Toast of Creativity

Death in the Afternoon is often enjoyed as a celebratory drink, toasting to creativity and embracing artistic endeavors.

Served in a Flute

Traditionally, Death in the Afternoon is served in a flute glass, adding elegance and sophistication to the drinking experience.

A Bubbly Affair

The addition of sparkling wine creates effervescence in the cocktail, symbolizing the liveliness of the afternoon.

Varied Absinthe Amounts

The amount of absinthe used in Death in the Afternoon can vary, depending on one’s preference for a stronger or milder cocktail.

A Unique Aroma

The absinthe in Death in the Afternoon contributes to its distinctive aroma, which is often described as herbal and anise-like.

A Historical Connection

The combination of absinthe and sparkling wine in this cocktail harks back to the early 20th-century bohemian culture that embraced these ingredients.

Not for the Faint-Hearted

Due to its strong nature, Death in the Afternoon is not recommended for those who are new to the world of cocktails or have a low tolerance for alcohol.

A European Sensation

This cocktail gained popularity not only in the United States but also across Europe as the drink of choice for those seeking adventure.

Ever-Present in Literary Circles

Death in the Afternoon found a special place among the literary circles of the 1920s and 1930s, where it became an emblem of sophistication and creativity.

An Aperitif with a Kick

Death in the Afternoon is often enjoyed as an aperitif, stimulating the appetite and preparing the palate for a delightful meal.

A Symbol of Hemingway’s Legacy

In many ways, Death in the Afternoon represents the adventurous and unconventional spirit of Ernest Hemingway, leaving a lasting legacy in the world of cocktails.

Part of Cocktail Lore

The fame surrounding Death in the Afternoon makes it an iconic cocktail, forever etched in the annals of cocktail history.

As you explore the world of cocktails, be sure to raise a glass to the 17 intriguing facts about Death in the Afternoon. Let this unique drink transport you to the literary and cultural realms that Hemingway so passionately embraced.


In conclusion, “Death in the Afternoon” is a fascinating and complex drink with a rich history. Its origins can be traced back to the 1930s when renowned writer Ernest Hemingway popularized the cocktail. Since then, it has become synonymous with the art of mixing drinks and is loved by many cocktail enthusiasts around the world.

With its unique combination of absinthe and champagne, “Death in the Afternoon” offers a bold and distinctive flavor profile that is sure to delight your palate. Whether you’re a fan of Hemingway’s work or simply looking for a new and exciting cocktail to try, this drink is definitely worth exploring.

So, raise a glass to “Death in the Afternoon” and enjoy this delightful concoction that combines two iconic spirits into one unforgettable drink.


1. What is “Death in the Afternoon”?
“Death in the Afternoon” is a cocktail made with absinthe and champagne. It was popularized by famous writer Ernest Hemingway in the 1930s.

2. How did “Death in the Afternoon” get its name?
The name “Death in the Afternoon” comes from Hemingway’s book of the same name, which discusses the art of bullfighting. Hemingway believed that the combination of absinthe and champagne was strong enough to kill the afternoon and put the drinker in a state of euphoria.

3. What does “Death in the Afternoon” taste like?
“Death in the Afternoon” has a unique taste characterized by the anise-like flavor of absinthe combined with the crispness of champagne. It offers a refreshing and complex palate that is both bold and delightful.

4. Can I substitute absinthe with another spirit?
While the traditional recipe calls for absinthe, you can experiment with other spirits like pastis or anise liqueur if you’re unable to find absinthe. However, it may alter the taste profile of the drink.

5. How do I make “Death in the Afternoon” at home?
To make “Death in the Afternoon,” pour one ounce of absinthe into a champagne flute, then slowly add four ounces of chilled champagne. Stir gently to combine, and garnish with a twist of lemon peel if desired. Sip and enjoy!

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