Church & State recipe: Van Gogh’s Rocket

Recipe: Van Gogh's Rocket
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Vincent Van Gogh famously loved absinthe. The spirit was highly en vogue in the late 19th century when the troubled artist was painting his vivid masterpieces. It’s up for debate whether too much of the drink contributed to his famous “ear” episode in Arles, France, but it certainly didn’t help. Today the Green Fairy, as the spirit is known, has made a small comeback, largely thanks to its use by craft cocktail connoisseurs. Take for example, a lush and lovely cocktail created by barman Erik Denton called Van Gogh’s Rocket,” for downtown’s renowned French bistro Church & State. Inspired by an early mentor, Sadie mixologist Giovanni Martinez, Denton was moved to incorporate savory arugula into a cocktail worthy of a painting. Smooth vodka, slightly sweet Lillet Blanc, fresh lemon juice, mellow honey syrup and bar spoon of absinthe complete the picture.

Church & State, 1850 Industrial St., Los Angeles, (213) 405-1434.

Van Gogh’s Rocket

5 minutes. Serves 1


Pinch fresh arugula

1 1/2 ounces vodka, preferably Luksusowa

1 ounce Lillet Blanc

1/2 ounce lemon juice

1/8 ounce honey syrup (½ honey, ½ water)

1 bar spoon absinthe, preferably Vieux Carre

Lemon peel, garnish

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the arugula, then add the vodka, Lillet Blanc, lemon juice, honey syrup and absinthe, along with ice. Shake, then strain and serve, garnished with the lemon peel.



Calories 226

Protein 0

Carbohydrates 24 grams


Fiber 0

Fat 0

Cholesterol 0

Sugar 20 grams


Sodium 4 mg

NOTE: Adapted from Erik Denton of Church & State. Denton also recommends serving the cocktail with an arugula flower.