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Absinthe: The Topic


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#481 haresfur

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 01:38 PM

How do you "dash" your absinthe? Being lazy, I have been just slopping as little as I can from the bottle, but this isn't really adequate (or should I say the amount is usually more than adequate). Do I need to hurry up and use up a bitters bottle to recycle it? Do I find a mister? Can I recycle a plastic eyeglass cleaner mister or do I need to find a glass one somewhere? Is there something I can do that doesn't look tacky, or should I just embrace tacky?
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#482 KD1191

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 01:52 PM

How do you "dash" your absinthe?


There are many options.

Personally, I use the last of those...found them at Whole Foods.
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#483 KD1191

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 02:11 PM

Can someone give me some step-by-step instructions including amounts? Do you chill the glasses prior to dripping? These glasses are huge: I don't want to fill them at a 4:1 ratio, do I? Appropriate food, rituals, expressions, and so on are also welcome.


Yes, generally you want somewhere from 3:1 - 5:1, water to absinthe...quite dilute. Obviously the size of your glass and preferred ratio is going to determine your exact measurements. I'm not entirely sure how necessary the sugar cube is these days with the quality of products we have available, but it's not like it's unpleasant either. Stirring in some simple after the drip is probably a better way to tweak the taste to your preference, if considerably less ritualistic.

ETA: Have never used chilled glasses...though I'm not sure it would hurt anything. That said, the process takes awhile, so I'm not sure how much chilling the glass would help. The end result has always been plenty cold due to the quantity of ice water that's involved.

Edited by KD1191, 20 August 2010 - 02:12 PM.

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#484 Chris Amirault

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 02:35 PM

Thanks.

So I don't want cocktail cold but something in the 33-34F range?
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#485 KD1191

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 02:40 PM

Thanks.

So I don't want cocktail cold but something in the 33-34F range?


Haven't ever measured temps, but the fountain should be pretty full of ice to start the process. You might give the ice/water a bit of a stir before opening the tap, too.
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#486 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 28 August 2010 - 10:00 AM

Add the desired dose of absinthe to the glass and set it to a very slow drip (I typically accomplish this by adding crushed ice to a funnel over it and sitting outside on a warm day). As the dilution begins to build up, the louche will sink to the bottom and there will be a cloudy layer with a clear layer floating on top. Generally speaking, you want the clear layer to disappear on its own--if the drip is done slowly enough the layers will stay distinct. On something really mild like Lucid you may wish to shoot a little under but I've found that this method is a good place to start.

I haven't been drinking enough absinthe lately, no excuse with the 100+ weeks we've been having.

ETA: you don't want the glasses full...like wine, there is some pleasure to be had from nosing the stuff, which requires a fair bit of empty space in the glass. Also, large drinks get warm before you can (should?) finish them.

Edited by thirtyoneknots, 28 August 2010 - 10:01 AM.

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#487 Chris Amirault

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Posted 28 August 2010 - 02:33 PM

Thanks Andy -- the descriptions are very useful.

I have a precious bottle of Marteau I want to use, and I'm still a bit more confused than I'd like to be before trying this out. Should I start with, say, 1 1/2 oz in each glass? And how long should it take to get those distinct layers to disappear with a nice, slow (one drop per second?) drip?

I realize, btw, that I'm turning a romantic process into accounting. :blink:
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#488 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 09:20 AM

Thanks Andy -- the descriptions are very useful.

I have a precious bottle of Marteau I want to use, and I'm still a bit more confused than I'd like to be before trying this out. Should I start with, say, 1 1/2 oz in each glass? And how long should it take to get those distinct layers to disappear with a nice, slow (one drop per second?) drip?

I realize, btw, that I'm turning a romantic process into accounting. :blink:


I'm sadly unfamiliar with the unique properties of Marteau, but when I have my Jades this way I normally only do 1 oz, given the expense and potency of these absinthes. When using the much more irregularly timed method laid out above, it can take up to half an hour or more to complete a drip, which is just enough time to emjoy an Americano or Vermouth Cassis. Absinthe drip is rarely the first thing I drink in an afternoon; better to set it up and watch it go with another light beverage in hand. I've never really used a fountain before (jealous!) but from my limited observance of their operation I would guess you could probably get something in the 5 minute range.

I know the stuff is expensive, but its really pretty hard to mess up, so just try it. If its too stout, add more water. Too weak? Just roll with it as a learning experience, or add a few dashes more of hooch. Slightly over-watered absinthe isn't offensive by any means.

Edit: clarify.

Edited by thirtyoneknots, 30 August 2010 - 09:20 AM.

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#489 John Rosevear

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 06:08 PM

Back before the US ban was lifted, I went through an absinthe-obsessed phase, and accumulated several bottles of the stuff that was considered good back in 2005-2006. I'm still drinking down the last of it -- the drink I'm sipping right now came from a bottle of, IIRC, the second batch of Montmartre (it has faded some, but still palatable). I was an early customer of LdF, had all the Jades through Edouard (but not PF1901), the Fougerolles, the Swiss-market Kubler, the original Un Emile, etc., etc.

But nothing new or recent. Long story short, I haven't bought a bottle of absinthe, other than a single bottle of Lucid (eh), in probably 4 years. So here's my question: What are the best brands available now, cost no object? If I were to buy or order 2 or 3 bottles tonight, which ones? Still the Jade? Marteau if I can find any? Something else?
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#490 KD1191

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 07:05 PM

I'm not a big absinthe drinker, but the Emile Pernot "Vieux Pontarlier" 65 gets a lot of good reviews. My wife was gifted a bottle for her birthday by a bartender friend as she is an absinthe-lover, and she thinks very highly of it. The Leopold Bros. is another that I've heard praised, but I have not tried it personally.
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#491 Dan Perrigan

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Posted 05 October 2010 - 03:31 PM

...What are the best brands available now, cost no object? If I were to buy or order 2 or 3 bottles tonight, which ones?


My intro to absinthe a couple years ago involved tastings of Kubler and North Shore (using a traditional drip). The North Shore is excellent. When I started putting together a home bar last year, I bought a bottle of it. Since then, I've tried St George and was blown away by its complexity. When my North Shore runs out I'll be replacing it with a bottle of St George.

Has anyone compared St George to the Jades? I'd be interested in how they compare.

Dan

#492 John Rosevear

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Posted 05 October 2010 - 04:43 PM

FWIW, I ended up ordering Jades -- PF1901 (to try) and Edouard (my favorite, back in the day). But I'd still love to know what else is in that class these days.
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#493 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 07:20 AM


...What are the best brands available now, cost no object? If I were to buy or order 2 or 3 bottles tonight, which ones?


My intro to absinthe a couple years ago involved tastings of Kubler and North Shore (using a traditional drip). The North Shore is excellent. When I started putting together a home bar last year, I bought a bottle of it. Since then, I've tried St George and was blown away by its complexity. When my North Shore runs out I'll be replacing it with a bottle of St George.

Has anyone compared St George to the Jades? I'd be interested in how they compare.

Dan


I'm hardly an expert on Absinthe, but I have had the St. George, and while I enjoy it a lot, it has a very distinctive character that I don't think of as traditional. Their use of unorthodox (afaik) herbs like mint and terragon gives a very culinary profile to it and while I like it a lot in a drip or frappe, I wouldn't think it was particularly well-suited to something like a Sazerac (if that type of versatility is important to you). Quite nice when you want something different that is not too hard on the budget (for Absinthe, that is).
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#494 Peter Green

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 03:43 PM

In Denver last week I was overwhelmed by the quality of distilling being done by the Leopold Brothers, particularly their gin.

They also have an Absinthe Verte, and I found it in Joy, across the street from Fruition (we were waiting on a table). I saw the bottle, and snagged it (batch 31). By their label, they start with grape spirits and grande wormwood, adding in fennel, anise, and "proprietary botanicals".

Here's a section lifted from their web page www.leopoldbros.com

"Before the Absinthe Verte is bottled, it must undergo a coloring step. Many commercial absinthes are colored artificially. Ours is colored in the most traditional manner by placing our hand selected coloring herbs (Hyssop, Melissa, and Roman Wormwood) in cheesecloth and steeping the blend in warmed Absinthe Verte. These coloring herbs strengthen the floral aromas and citrusy undertones of the finished Absinthe Verte. The high alcohol content of the Absinthe Verte leaches chlorophyll from the plant material, turning it a wholly natural, vibrant green color that is similar to the gemstone Peridot. This unique hue is one of the reasons that French Impressionists of the Belle Époque took so strongly to traditionally prepared, handcrafted Absinthe Verte."


Posted Image

I need to get this back to Canada, so I can't open it yet. Needless to say, I'm quite excited. Impatient, but excited.

#495 Peter Green

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 10:57 AM

It's very good. But, at (I think) 68%, it does hit pretty hard.

A good drink to start (and end) the day).

These guys may be my favourite distillers.

#496 Peter Green

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 11:01 AM

As a comment for Canucks, I was sweating bullets about bringing in my collection of bottles from the US. But I knew I was better off declaring than being caught out.

But, after my one bottle allowance, this bottle of absinthe and another of New York Apple whiskey only set me back ten bucks in customs.

And Canada Customs was really apologetic about it; "You can't get this quality of stuff otherwise. We really shouldn't be charging anything."

Moral of story: be honest. You'll feel better about meeting some good people.

#497 KD1191

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 12:07 PM

Leopold Bros. is fantastic stuff, their gin is my favorite bar none. The Pisco-style brandy (which has not been sold in years, and these days is used as a base for the Absinthe, I'm told) is absolutely sublime.

I'll also agree regarding declaring. Would you rather be out a couple bucks, or the whole lot? US and Canada have different regulations, obviously, but I've brought back 12-24 bottles (mixed wine/liquor) on each of our last three trips abroad and have not had to pay a cent in duty thus far <knock wood>. Declared it all, and stated it was for personal consumption...was told to have a good day. YMMV.
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#498 Chris Amirault

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 02:19 PM

Agreed about the Leopold Bros. absinthe. I brought some back in a (customs-free thus heavily weighted) suitcase following a trip to Hi-Time Wines in CA. The only thing I can compare it to is the Marteau, and though I loves me the Marteau... I think... I may... like the Leopold Bros. better. A few drops in just about anything is remarkable.
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#499 Tri2Cook

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 10:45 AM

Other than tradition, is there any real reason for the full absinthe ritual? If you know what dilution rate you want for a particular absinthe and choose to use the sugar is there any reason you can't dissolve the correct amount of sugar in the correct amount of water, store it in the fridge and drip a measured amount into the absinthe minus the spoon and sugar cube? I realize there's no inconvenience involved with having the spoon and cube sitting there while the water drips, I'm just curious if it does more than simply provide an entertaining vehicle for dissolving the sugar.
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#500 bostonapothecary

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 01:56 PM

Other than tradition, is there any real reason for the full absinthe ritual? If you know what dilution rate you want for a particular absinthe and choose to use the sugar is there any reason you can't dissolve the correct amount of sugar in the correct amount of water, store it in the fridge and drip a measured amount into the absinthe minus the spoon and sugar cube? I realize there's no inconvenience involved with having the spoon and cube sitting there while the water drips, I'm just curious if it does more than simply provide an entertaining vehicle for dissolving the sugar.


the ritual is largely symbolic.

all of these experiences (like all art) have a symbolic side and a sensory side. you can manipulate both (and you should!). the sensory side is all that anise & alcohol while the symbolic side is all those rituals, history, hallucinogenic myths, etc. everything your brain does to juggle the two sides is covered in the theory of cognitive dissonance.

people get hung up on the symbolic side of their experiences, but symbolism often stands in the way of sustainability and that is one of the greatest problems we face.

you can start with a simple question about an absinthe ritual and open a big can of worms.
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#501 Tri2Cook

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 02:17 PM

you can start with a simple question about an absinthe ritual and open a big can of worms.

So it is indeed, at the heart of it, ritual rather than function... but suggesting that the ritual is simply for entertainment purposes could lead me down a road I may not want to travel with the dedicated?
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#502 bostonapothecary

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 02:30 PM


you can start with a simple question about an absinthe ritual and open a big can of worms.

So it is indeed, at the heart of it, ritual rather than function... but suggesting that the ritual is simply for entertainment purposes could lead me down a road I may not want to travel with the dedicated?


the ritual has a function.

absinthe is such an acquired taste that a ritual is often needed to give the uninitiated a motivational drive to like the sensory side of the experience. susceptibility varies.

rene redzepi uses similar principles to get people to pay top dollar for barnicles at noma.

it is known that we have a hard time parsing sensory experiences. you cannot easily divide the line between smell & taste (olfaction and gustation) when you are eating.

believe it or not we also have a hard time separating the symbolic and sensory sides of experiences and that is why art can be so persuasive.

do i like that wine because it tastes good or because it is a first growth of Bordeaux?

if people completely understood the mechanisms of these things they could teach an entire nation to prefer their coffee black and save it a massive amount of calories.

Edited by bostonapothecary, 02 October 2011 - 02:34 PM.

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#503 Tri2Cook

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 02:55 PM

Understood. I was a bit too simplistic in my reply. What I should have said was, from the perspective of what's in the glass, it doesn't serve a particular function that couldn't be accomplished in some other way.

Edited by Tri2Cook, 02 October 2011 - 03:27 PM.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#504 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 07:47 PM

Understood. I was a bit too simplistic in my reply. What I should have said was, from the perspective of what's in the glass, it doesn't serve a particular function that couldn't be accomplished in some other way.


To my understanding and experience, the most precise way to dilute absinthe is not by ratio, but by watching the slow drip and waiting for the clear layer that floats above the louche to disappear. The rate at which this happens supposedly varies between brands and is a good indicator that proper dilution has been achieved. My personal experiences have not contradicted this. If you pour water in at some relatively arbitrary ratio all at once, the layering effect is destroyed and so you kind of have to guess or be satisfied to taste and add.

Think of it like baking bread--the best bakers don't measure everything by grams and just go--they pay attention to the feel of the dough and add a little more flour or water as the case may be to compensate for the strength of starter, humidity, whatever. They are going for a precise effect, not a precise recipe.

All of which is not to say that just pouring water in quickly to an arbitrary dilution will ruin the experience or flavor or something, any more than following a bread recipe by measuring on a scale will yield crappy bread. It's just that the other way is subtly but noticeably more satisfying on a few different levels.
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#505 Tri2Cook

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 03:43 AM

Thank you sir. That's exactly what I was looking for. I have no problem with doing things the traditional way, I was just curious if there was more to it than the entertainment/art value. The optimum amount of water to add comes from observation of the changes going on rather than shooting for a specific amount up front. So it's not entirely ritual, it's also technique.

It's a curiosity thing I have. I wasn't trying to offend the art side of the ritual, I just needed to know (no, I don't know why I get these "need to know" flashes) if the absinthe cares how one goes about diluting it.
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#506 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 05:59 AM

Thank you sir. That's exactly what I was looking for. I have no problem with doing things the traditional way, I was just curious if there was more to it than the entertainment/art value. The optimum amount of water to add comes from observation of the changes going on rather than shooting for a specific amount up front. So it's not entirely ritual, it's also technique.

It's a curiosity thing I have. I wasn't trying to offend the art side of the ritual, I just needed to know (no, I don't know why I get these "need to know" flashes) if the absinthe cares how one goes about diluting it.


Eh, the art side of the ritual is frequently worth offending. You are right to question it.
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#507 tanstaafl2

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 06:25 AM

Thank you sir. That's exactly what I was looking for. I have no problem with doing things the traditional way, I was just curious if there was more to it than the entertainment/art value. The optimum amount of water to add comes from observation of the changes going on rather than shooting for a specific amount up front. So it's not entirely ritual, it's also technique.

It's a curiosity thing I have. I wasn't trying to offend the art side of the ritual, I just needed to know (no, I don't know why I get these "need to know" flashes) if the absinthe cares how one goes about diluting it.


If you like to move the process along it is perhaps worth doing it the traditional way once as long as you are using the same brand until you see what is the dilution that gives the desired effect and taste. Then in the future if you don't have the time or inclination you will know just how much to add to get to the desired dilution more quickly!

As noted if you change brands it is not always the same dilution so you have to titrate accordingly.

For mixing with cocktails I have tended to use the Vieux Carre absinthe from Philadelphia Distilling (the same folks who produce Bluecoat gin). A bit easier to find and a generally a little less expensive to boot. And not bad on its own merits either to my own palate though I have admittedly limited absinthe experience.

Has anybody tried Pacifique or Ridge absinthe? Both are newer US absinthe and seem to get good reviews. Not always easy to find either locally though.
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#508 absinthefiend

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 10:45 AM

Hello all,

I realize this thread has aged a bit, but I want to offer my own experiences up here since someone mentioned Vieux Carre and then asked about Pacific and Ridge verte. I've had the good fortune of trying all three of these, and for anyone who is interested in trying absinthe, they would all make very good introductions. As a short comparison, I'd say that the VC has a little bit more of a minty flavor to it, the Pacifique has a traditional Montpellier-style taste, and the Ridge verte is perhaps the most full-bodied and rich of the three, capable of taking quite a bit of water (5:1 or even higher), while you'd want to stick closer to a 4:1 absinthe-to-water ratio with the others. (As noted earlier, part of determining when to stop watering is based on when all of the essential oils appear to have finished being released during the louche, but part of it is also based on personal preference toward taste).

The Ridge verte (there is also a Ridge blanche, which is a white or clear absinthe) is the newest on the market, and the most difficult to find, but it's out there. One site I like (with which I'm not affiliated in any way) is DrinkUPNY, which has both the Ridge and the Vieux Carre. I'm fortunate to be able to get Pacifique locally here in the Pacific northwest.

#509 haresfur

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 03:10 PM

Welcome to eGullet absinthefiend! Thanks for the review. Pacifique never made it to the dry side of the state when I was in Washington. How is the conversion to private sales going? I assume you mean water:absinthe ratio, not the other way around.

Absinthe choices here are pretty limited. I think you can get Mansinthe and maybe some others that look a bit dodgy. But my bottle of Obsello should last about forever at the rate I make Sazeracs.
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#510 absinthefiend

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 11:03 AM

Sorry for the delay, haresfur. And yes, you're quite right - I did mean water:absinthe ratio. Thank you for the correction. Reversing them would probably make the drink fit only for Paul Verlaine!

The conversion to private sales... well, I suppose time will tell for certain. It doesn't kick in until June 1st, and so far the only obvious result has been a thinning out of available products, as stores have begun to stop reordering certain things as they sell out. I was at least able to take advantage of a few closeout sales (a very nice Dewar's scotch gift sampler, Michter's US-1 small batch rye, and a couple of bottles of Pacifique). We'll see what surprises June and after will hold.

Good call on the Obsello! That's a very nice Spanish absenta which I enjoy most on hot days, as it's very refreshing. By the way, Mansinthe is actually a decent absinthe, too. In fact, the only "bad" thing I can say about it is that it's a mid-shelf absinthe without distinction, meaning that it's well-balanced and uses good (if not the absolute best) wormwood and other botanicals. It's perfect for cocktails and cooking.