Well, I’ve finally tried absinthe. I’m down at the H.P Lovecraft Film Festival and Cthulhu Con. My best fiend’s short film, Found Footage, Arabi played tonight. We went to the after-party, and they had a drinks menu for the occasion. We got the ‘Sazathotherac’ – Absinthe, Bulleit Rye, sugar, Peychaud’s bitters, and a twist of lemon. Not what I understand is traditional (and I have no idea if Absinthe sold in the U.S. is ‘real’ absinthe), but tasty.
And pretty powerful. I had two. My fiend didn’t want his second one, so I took it. So I had three. As far as I can tell, it has had no affect on m… Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!
Ahem. In any case, I need to leave for home at noon tomorrow. I’ll miss some stuff, but it’s been fun so far. Even the ‘dead hooker motel’ turns out to be better than the reviews would suggest.
I happen to love absinthe and have half a dozen bottles of different kinds tucked away here. The “traditional” way to enjoy it is mixed with 4-5 parts chilled water. When consumed this way, it is about as strong as a glass of wine.
There are many, many excellent absinthes available in the US. We have some of the finest small-batch producers in the world at the moment, which are apparently comparable to the best pre-ban Pernod. It’s been a real renaissance in the past few years.
I would agree with this. It’s the alcohol that hits you, not the thujone. The most likely explanation for the absinthes of yore causing hallucinations and other effects that thujone does not cause is cheap crap being cut into the drink. I also recall hearing/reading about copper poisoning from old timey absinthes as a possible cause for some of the more long-term deleterious effects of the drink.
Do you mean the absinthe, or the sazerac? Because that’s a pretty traditional sazerac - easily one of my favorite bourbon/rye drinks. The absinthe is in pretty trace amounts in it - usually just a few drops, enough to get the glass wet.
That’s absolutely right. To make absinthe, you just macerate the herbs in industrial alcohol. Good absinthe uses high quality neutral grape spirits. But the really bad stuff used industrial by-products. Absinthe (verte at least) is naturally green due to chlorophyll, but the cheap stuff dyed it artificially. It also has a natural louche: it turns milky when mixed with water when the alcohol comes out of solution. The bad pre-ban stuff simulated this with all sorts of dangerous additives. Low-quality pre-ban stuff was absolutely toxic but not for the reasons the temperance movement advanced.
Well, they really should make a distinction between the different kinds. Distilled is the variety I prefer (and seems to be the more traditional type), although there are also kinds that are simply herbs macerated in alcohol.
Here’s a pretty typical approach. Macerate herbs in alcohol, distill, then add a couple more flavoring herbs before bottling. The reason it’s important is that straight-up macerated wormwood is pretty rough. If you want to taste wormwood straight-up macerated in alcohol, look for a Polish drink called piołunóka or a Swedish-American-via-Chicago drink called malört.
Ah, yes. Same sort of thing happens with gin, with lower qualities skipping the distilling step and just macerating (although I think most of the well-known commercial types, even the cheaper ones, are distilled.)
Yeah, definitely. The inexpensive absinthes in the US are made by major spirits producers in the first place, so I imagine they use more or less the same equipment and processes for their other spirits. They downmarket brands produce spirits that taste pretty much the same as Pastis with a little essential oil of Wormwood added after the fact. Those drinkers like the cachet of absinthe but aren’t so crazy about the vegetal palette. And for people who are into that, there are so many good products out there at the moment that there is no need to compromise.