View Full Version : Reemergence of absinthe?
An article I came across concerning attempts to legalize old fashioned absinthe: Absinthe to become legal (http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/11/04/MNGQD9LM621.DTL)
According to the article, the absinthe that is currently legal in sevaral countries is a weak form of the drug.
Absinthe is reemerging. By the way, I am not an absinthe fan. I don't particuly like licorice liquors. Some of what I've read and heard about absinthe is confusing. But here's part of the reemergenge.
A biochemist from New Orleans, Breaux, has analyzed old bottles of the original Pernod and is manufacturing it in Thailand. Absinthe is now very "in" in the arts scene in Seattle. It was recently discovered that, contrary to belief, absinthe was not illegal in Britain.
There are also recents books and articles on absinthe that have suggested that the wormwood used in absinthe is not as dangerous as was believed in the early 20th Century when absinthe was outlawd in many countries. There is presently reseach going on on the effects of wormwood at the University of California at San Francisco medical school.
Historically, the American center for absinthe has, notwithstanding present-day Seattle, been New Orleans. You're not that far away. I wonder if you could find some down there.
That reminds me. From what I'm hearing Americans are importing the stuff from Europe and are not getting in trouble. I hear that the worst that has happened is that there have been seizures of bottles by customs officals. But my understanding is that most of it is getting in. The issue the authorities are apparently concerned with is selling the stuff in America. Some of the people importing it are American rock stars.
Finally, I do not stand behind the accuracy of all of the information that I have set out here.
That article doesn't say much about the scientifically-proven effects of thujone. My understanding from past reading is that the high alcohol proof of 19th century absinthe was the source of more problems than the supposedly insanity-producing effects of wormwood. At this point, I think absinthe is the beneficiary of legend and lore derived primarily from the fact that it is illegal. "Forbidden fruit" and all that.
My understanding from past reading is that the high alcohol proof of 19th century absinthe was the source of more problems than the supposedly insanity-producing effects of wormwood.
Yes, that's it exactly. From what I've read, thujone, even at the levels found in old Absinthe bottlings, was never shown to have a negative effect on health. Instead, the symptoms traditionally associated with thujone were from the high alcohol content in conjunction with excessive drinking. Most modern bottlings do not have that high a thujone content, although there is a movement afoot to return to more authentic, traditional formulations.
Several websites offer Absinthe direct from the U.K., where it is legal and easily shipped to the U.S. A friend bought a couple bottles that way a while back (made in France for export only -- I think by members of the Pernod family (Pernod was originally an Absinthe, but now, being wormwood free, is a pastis)), and they were quite good -- high proof and very complex. Of course, you have to like anise flavors, and a large part of the alure was in the ritual/presentation --typically, you pour a shot into a glass goblet or the like, balance a fork (or Absinthe spoon, if you have one) across the rim, and put a sugar cube on the fork. Then, you pour cold water over the sugar cube, which dissolves down into the glass, diluting and sweetening the Absinthe (in our case it turned a slightly cloudly, very, very pale blue-green color). My conclusion was that it was fun to try, but not something I'd seek out very often (plus it's fairly expensive).
It's been available here in Australia for the best part of 12-18 months, maybe longer.
http://www.greenfairy.com.au/ is one I am aware of and I've seen different brands in various stores over the last few months...
There are often more brands of Absinthe in UK supermarkets than Bourbon !
It's OK - pretty similar to Pernod but stronger and green. I usually keep a bottle aroung - it's around 150 proof, and of course as a barrel strength bourbon man I drink it neat. I can't say I've noticed any specific non-alcholic effects - although those purple rats smoking cigars seem to think different.
Was it those purple rats that snapped your avatar picture? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/skep.gif
Sure was - I think they've been drinking my Bourbon too - there's no way I drunk all that Stagg http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
Silly man, only the green ones with pink polka dots drink bourbon. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif
On my vacation to Cancun, I had the opportunity to try absinthe there but I had heard it was opiates that were added to it and my job is subject to random drug tests for certain customers. I just couldn't pull the trigger for fear of unemployment. I had to settle for Dos Equis with my Habano Hoya De Monterreys.
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif - I'll keept that in mind !
With regards the Absinthe you're not missing much - especially in the land of Bourbon.
Dane, if you're interested in trying it without the drug (which is not an opiate), you can find Pernod liqueur (a French pastis) at almost any decent liquor store. WARNING - if you do not like the flavor of anise/licorice (I do, but many people can't stand it), don't bother. It has a very strong anise flavor.
I have never warmed to anise drinks but I keep some Pernod (a French, liquorice-flavored cordial) for the Sazerac cocktail. The Sazerac uses a little syrup or sugar (I use maple syrup), dash bitters (any kind is good including Angostura), bourbon or rye (any ryed bourbon is perfect for this, e.g. EWSB '94, Grandad 114) and the Pernod. The Pernod should be only a little, a 1/4 ounce maximum in my view. Some people rinse the glass first with Pernod and discard the excess (I economically pour it back in the Pernod bottle), the amount left inside is enough to flavor the drink. This is a very complex cocktail, as good in its way as the Manhattan. There is an absinthe substitute sold in Ontario called Absente which doesn't have the element that supposedly made absinthe bad (thujone). I have seen Absente sold in the States and that is ideal for the Sazerac too.
At a wedding reception in New York State I found on the back bar a bottle of Ezra Brooks, the regular bottling. I found this a well-aged good Bourbon. I noticed some Pernod and Grenadine and used this to mix a Sazerac. Generally a Sazerac employs some syrup and bitters but Grenadine substituted very nicely for that. Grenadine has a bittersweet taste something like bitters even though the former is based on pomegranate juice while the latter is compounded of various barks and spices. The Grenadine made a very good Sazerac-type cocktail and I found a 4:1 blend of whiskey to Grenadine was fine for me (the anise-flavored element is only a dash or so and lends just a hint of licorice flavor in the background). I liked it neat but another person at the bar tried the same mixture on the rocks and said it was very good.
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