Okay, just got back from a trip to Athens, where I picked up two bottles of absinthe (it’s completely legal there, if you’re wondering). One seems to be pre-diluted (it says 50% on the label) and the other is in a small bottle, presumably the full-strength, Ernest-Hemingway-with-an-eyedropper sort of stuff.
Now what? How do I prepare it, how much do I consume, what should I expect to happen? This stuff isn’t actually dangerous, is it, at least if I sample a small amount once in a while?
A desultory internet search seems to suggest that the stuff is not nearly as psychoactively interesting as its mystique suggests. I wouldn’t want to be caught off guard, though.
Tomorrow is a holiday so tonight is a good night to check it out.
Ok, now you’ve got me wondering. The website above calls its primary ingredient an alcohol. But it also implies that there are mind-altering aspects to absinthe. Somehow, that term doesn’t usually apply to alcohol, although alcohol certainly is a mind-altering substance in some ways. Sure affects judgement, for example. So is absinthe basically an alcoholic drink, or is there something else in it that would cause one to expect different experiences - subjectively?
If it’s “real” absinthe, it’s made with wormwood. Thus, it contains a substance called thujone, which WAS believed to bind to the same receptors as THC. That is not believed to be the case anymore. Anyway, it’s questionable whether the 60 proof absinthe can contain enough thujone to have any effect on you without you being dead drunk as well. Some people believe the old 19th century absinthes contained much higher thujone concentrations.
Check out the Erowid site I posted and wikipedia probably has an article on it (how could they not). The difference is that it’s not just an alcoholic beverage, there’s other mind altering chemicals in (real) absinthe, wormwood and Thujone come to mind.
I’ve had several different brands of Czech absinthe that contained wormwood and, from my experience, it’s just real strong alcohol. (I recall it being anywhere from 120-140 proof). I did not perceive any of its mythical effects. I got drunk a hell of a lot faster, but that’s about it. I think there’s more legend and lore surrounding this drink than anything else. Perhaps back in the day, when thujone content was wildly unregulated, there was an effect, but not now.
I’ve had real absinthe with wormwood in it, and while I’m not exactly an expert on tripping with drugs (I’ve never actually taken anything illegal - well, except for the absinthe, I guess!) we honestly think we just got really drunk on it. Which you will.
It’s pretty refreshing, actually. Well, the batch that didn’t burn was.
I have some that I got over the net. The first time I took it with another “substance” and I did notice that it felt different than other alchohol. But other times, it wasn’t much different. Also, the taste really is very bitter. I really like regular related drinks (Ricard, Ouzo, Raki, etc.), and, unlike most people in the U.S., I don’t find them bitter at all. But absinthe really does taste different. The usual way of drinking it is with a lot of sugar. I have also seen other cocktail recipes that use it, but I don’t have the time to look them up right now. Anyhow, good luck with your adventure!!! For me, the “romance” of the idea of absinthe was better than the reality, but you may have a different experience!
Wormwood itself is extremely bitter. We have some Polish wormwood tea in the house, and I cannot get past a couple of sips of it, because it’s the bitterest substance I’ve ever ingested. I’ve tried three or four times to finish a cup, and I just can’t. And I eat and drink just about anything.
My friends have done the melt-the-sugar-in-to-the-alcohol trick both with absinthe, and if I recall correctly, another liquor. I would presume all that does is flavor the drink, but they seemed to think that it would somehow alter the effects somewhat and/or that there was some form of “alternate” thing that you could melt in to the alcohol to make it more potent. Was that just them being stupid experimental college kids, or does the sugar (or other substance?) have any effect?
Okay, I drank the absinthe – put some in a glass, put a little sugar in a strainer, poured water through the strainer into the glass, watched the liquid turn cloudy, and drank it.
It was evocative, but nearly overpoweringly sweet. It tasted like the spice mixture they sometimes give you as a breath freshener after meals in Indian restaurants, that is to say, it was almost like eating fresh anise seeds.
Effect-wise, it seems just like a rather strongly alcoholic beverage. I drank it in small sips with food, but still feel a bit of a buzz, so I gather it is pretty strongly alcoholic.
No hallucinations or other odd sensations, though.