Drunken Pasta

No, you don't have to be drunk to enjoy this delightful, impromptu pasta dish. But you do have to add a little booze to the mix.

This is what results when you find yourself with 2 pounds of fresh clams, a craving for pasta, and some already opened containers of booze lying around.

Although my husband, Meat Boy, loves to grill and roast big hunks of meat — hence the nickname — he also loves making seafood pasta. I know, I know. One has nothing to do with the other. But that’s just him. And you got to love a guy for his contradictions, don’t you?

He found a recipe online. But it called for chorizo. We had none, and didn’t want to make an extra trip to the grocery store, so we used bacon instead, along with a liberal amount of red pepper flakes.

The recipe also called for white wine. We didn’t feel like opening a bottle that night just for this dish, so we decided to use a mix of vodka and absinthe instead. After all, I still had a quite full bottle of St. George Spirits Absinthe Verte, and it did add such a nice touch to the Manhattan Bay Scallop Chowder I made this past winter. So why not give it a go in pasta?

Shallots might be nice, but we only had green onions on hand. Fennel fronds also would have made for a lovely garnish to play off the anise-flavor of the absinthe. Since we only had parsley in the produce drawer, we went with that.

Meat Boy — or should I call him Clam Boy in this case? — dished up the warm pasta, his stomach growling, and his heart full of pride. I should have made him take a bow right then and there because this improvised pasta proved a knockout performance. Simple yet elegant, with tangles of noodles hiding bits of smoky bacon, and plump, sweet clams with a hit of spiciness. The absinthe was subtle, but there, lending a certain complex herbal je ne sais quoi.

My hubby anointed the dish with this name. And he swears he wasn’t the least bit tipsy when he did.

Drunken Clam Linguini

(serves 4)

4 strips of thick-cut bacon, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup vodka

1/4 cup premium brand absinthe

1 pound linguini (or spaghetti)

2 pounds of fresh clams, rinsed and scrubbed

2 green onions, green and white parts, chopped

Red pepper flakes, to taste

Handful of chopped fresh parsley

Extra virgin olive oil

Put a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil for the pasta.

In a large saute pan, cook bacon on medium heat until crisp. Add garlic and stir until golden. Deglaze pan with vodka and absinthe.

Add linguine to pot of boiling water, and cook till al dente.

Add clams to the saute pan of bacon. Cover pan, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on medium heat until clam shells open; give the pan a stir half-way through the cooking time.

Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.

Add green onions and red pepper flakes to clam mixture. Then, mix in hot linguini. If the mixture appears too dry, add a little of the pasta cooking water. Stir in parsley, and serve.

Recipe by Meat Boy

Print This Post


  • I love clams and clam pasta! I love how you didn’t slavishly follow a recipe, but you improvised…that is what I always do, too! However, I have never found myself with 2 pounds of fresh clams on hand- boohoo.

  • Fantastic drunken pasta with clams! I will bookmark your recipe and go get some clams now!

  • Wow, vodka and absinthe. You guys went all out! Nothing could be more tipsy than that combo. 🙂

  • Ha ha, I see you’re finding more ways to get rid of that bottle of absinthe. Very clever! Impromptu creations are always the most satisfying. Good job, Meat/Clam Boy!

  • Sounds pretty fantastic for an improv meal! I like the idea of clams with vodka and absinthe.

  • Pasta, seafood, garlic and booze are always good :-))

  • Whoa, talk about a DRUNKEN pasta! I’ve never heard of using Absinthe before but that sounds amazing! So can you actually get tipsy from eating this? 🙂

  • This is a perfect example of how you can use what you have on hand to create a fantastic dish. After all, the main things were already there – pasta, clams and booze! 🙂

  • wow. This is one heck of a pasta! Great shot, with the vodka and absinthe!
    By the way, I always come across recipes asking for white wine…What will happen if I use red wine? And which is your fav white wine for cooking?

  • My husband Allen is the same way! He loves Chorizo but I made it with Shrimp!
    It turn out so Fabulous … Dancing under the star we went! I going to try Drunken pasta recipe this weekend!

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipe:)

    Have a Great Day~

  • So, in the spirit of adaptation and flexibility, let’s imagine that if Meat Boy had found himself with a random couple of pounds of fresh mussels on hand instead of the clams, that substitution would have allowed us to call him Muscle Man 🙂

  • Carroll: Too funny! Since it’s been awhile since Meat Boy lifted weights at the gym, I think he would be thrilled if you called him Muscle Man!

    Sophia: As to whether you can use red wine and white wine interchangeably, it just depends on the dish. For instance, traditional coq au vin is chicken stewed in a red wine sauce. But there also are versions made with white wine, which are delicious, but are less robust. In this pasta recipe, I would stick to white wine since you’re using delicate tasting clams. Red, especially one with a lot of tanin, would be too much in this particular dish. It also depends on the quantity of wine you’re using. If it’s just a few tablespoons, it might not make much of a difference if it’s a red or a white. But if you’re using a whole bottle, then it definitely could make a huge difference in the taste of the dish.

    As to wines for cooking, I stick to the advice so many chefs and culinary instructors give: Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink. In other words, make sure it’s a decent wine, because it will impart flavor to whatever you add it to. If you start with a terrible wine, you’ll be adding a terrible tasting ingredient to a dish you slaved over. Not a good idea. On the flip side, you probably don’t want to use the most expensive wine in the store to cook with, either. Since the wine will be only one of many components in a dish, you won’t really be able to grasp all its nuances. So if you have a pricey, very special wine, save it for pouring at the table so you can really appreciate all its intricate flavors and aromas.

  • Noodles look perfect and those creative adaptations are what makes cooking fun anyway. I just never would have thought to use absinthe but I can totally see it now for its herbal flavors. Good job meat/clam/muscle (teehee) boy!

  • You should enter this recipe in the Original Recipes monthly round up event:


  • hickup – that sounds like a heck of a pasta! A winner I love the ingenuity of the substitutions.

  • Man that looks good and I was just looking for a recipe. Definitely trying this one!


  • Pingback: Dreamfield’s Pasta – Low-carb or marketing hype? | Her Acai Berry

  • I haven’t even tasted absinthe just as a drink and already you’ve taken it to the next step! The clams and noodles look so innocent and simple, just sitting there on the plate . . . little do we know just what kind of a kick they’re hiding!

  • Eighty percent of success is showing up.

  • Pingback: Food Gal » Blog Archiv » A Daring Pairing with Clam Udon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *