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Absinthe: The Topic


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#91 Artemis

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Posted 31 August 2003 - 08:26 AM

Greetings:

I found this forum by chance when looking for a website that posted a small piece about absinthe by me (which I later found - it's here:
http://lafeevertecafe.com/absinthe.php

To answer the original question by poor but curious, save your money. Absente is not absinthe, not very much like absinthe, and tastes like hell according to every absintheur I know who's tasted it, and I know a lot of them.

Real absinthe has been available all along in Spain and Portugal, albeit the quality is suspect and it also isn't much like the stuff of old.

Real absinthe is again available today (still banned in the U.S. due to FDA regulations), but difficult to find among an ever-increasing number of faux products, shoddy products, and pretenders that have been rushed to a market born with the fall of the Berlin wall. Absinthe had never disappeared from Czechoslovakia, either, and a Czech distiller named Radomil Hill introduced his product to London in 1998 - that was the real start of the modern absinthe market. FWIW, to say that Hill's is not good absinthe is a very charitable statement.

Absinthe from the 19th century has survived in the hands of private individuals - I know of many such bottles, and I personally know several people who own some. I have tasted such absinthe myself. Needless to say, if this is something you want to pursue, you're going to need connections and/or a very fat wallet and some expert help to ensure you don't get ripped off.

Now comes the disclaimer - I know both IHutton (check the second disc of the "From Hell" DVD for an interview with him) and Pierre Verte. I am not connected with the commercial venture mentioned by Pierre. I knew them both for quite some time before that started. Both of these people have forgotten more about absinthe than almost anybody in the world knows today - those who consider themselves informed because they've read Dr. Arnold's article in Scientific American should know, that in discussion with these two, they're bringing a knife to a gun fight.

As to whether old absinthe has been scientifically tested, etc., yes it has, by the Harvard-trained organic chemist quoted at the top of the article, written by me with his input, on the website I mentioned earlier. I won't speak for him; maybe he'll speak for himself here if he sees fit. He has tested not only a variety of old absinthes, but a lot of modern ones as well.

Personally, I haven't much interest in the thujone controversy because I don't give a damn what made Van Gogh crazy (he was born that way as far as I'm concerned), and all the "science" I've seen with regard to that is frankly, second-rate. It's much ado about nothing. It's been hashed to death on other forums and I'm not going to go into it here. If you're interested, seek and you might find.

I do know that the absinthe now being made by the Pernot distillery in France, going under various permutations of the name "Emile" is the best commercial absinthe that can be obtained today, and anyone who is interested in the stuff, and not afraid of the big bad thujone (what a joke!) would be well served to try some of that brand.

For a website created and frequented by people knowledgable and passionate about absinthe, see
http://www.feeverte.net/index.html.

Be aware that flaming is an art form there, and you won't necessarily be treated gently, especially if you want to talk about thujone.

Thank you for your time,
A.

Edited by Artemis, 31 August 2003 - 08:31 AM.


#92 fresh_a

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Posted 01 September 2003 - 07:28 AM

Thanks for the post, Artemis, I very much enjoyed reading it.

I checked out my hotel's bar today, who had a bottle of the new Pernod 68 "aux extrats d'absinthe", and though it looks pretty good, it is thujone-free for the French market. With little wormwood content, how can it be the best of the bunch?

Thanks!

Edited by fresh_a, 01 September 2003 - 07:29 AM.

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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#93 fresh_a

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Posted 01 September 2003 - 08:16 AM

I'll amend my previous post with this information from the Pernod website:

"Fort de son savoir-faire quasi bicentenaire, Pernod lance aujourd'hui Pernod aux extraits de plantes d'absinthe, un spiritueux anisé inspiré de la recette originelle qui assura la gloire de la Maison Pernod à l'aube du XIXe siècle. 
Comme le produit vendu à l'époque, cet anisé ne contient pas de sucre et titre 68°, mais il possède un taux de thuyone correspondant aux contraintes législatives en vigueur interdisant d'excéder 10mg/l. Pernod aux extraits de plantes d'absinthe se consomme de manière traditionnelle avec un sucre et la cuillère ajourée, ou sans sucre, allongée de 5 à 7 volumes d'eau fraîche.
Aujourd'hui, les procédés modernes de distillation permettent un contrôle strict du dosage des différentes molécules essentielles qui entrent dans la composition de la plante d'absinthe. "


Which basically says their new absinthe product is inspired by the original recipe, with the legal level of thujone, meaning 10g/liter. I'll have a bottle this week, and keep you all posted.
Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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#94 fresh_a

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Posted 10 September 2003 - 01:11 AM

Here's a link to a pretty good article I haven't seen anywhere before:

Enjoy!
Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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#95 fresh_a

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Posted 14 June 2004 - 09:29 PM

The National Council of the Swiss Parlement accepted Monday to legalize the production of absinthe. 96 Years after its prohibition (falsely accused of making people crazy), it will be produced for the first time since 1908.

Exciting stuff!
Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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#96 fresh_a

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Posted 14 June 2004 - 09:29 PM

Sorry, forgot the (French) link , and the English link

Edited by fresh_a, 14 June 2004 - 09:32 PM.

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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#97 Boris_A

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Posted 14 June 2004 - 10:26 PM

. 96 Years after its prohibition (falsely accused of making people crazy), it will be produced for the first time since 1908.

Unforgetable the little scandal when President Mitterand visited Switzerland in 1985 and a dish called " Soufflé à la Fée" (fée verte = Absinth) was served during the official dinner. A nice symbolic insubordination.

It seems that back in 1910, there was a coalition of absinth-unwilling: anti-alcoholics together with competing producers of spirits. A rarely outspoken motive was the fact that absinth was very popular among women, something the bougeoisie of 1900 couldn't accept.

Unfortunately, Swiss parliament missed a chance yesterday to open a debate about legalizing marijuhana. Seems that this prohibition (introduced around 1960, before nobody cared much, it was poor peoples booze in earlier times) will last as much as long. Ahhhh, the high standards of morality (one likes to impose on others).
Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

#98 jaypm51

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Posted 15 June 2004 - 05:21 AM

The Czech Republic has been producing Absinthe for several years which means I've had the opportunity to sample the much touted and romanticized, read Rimbaud, Verlaine, Hemmingway et. al., "green fairy" on a number of occasions.
I've found that any good bottle of Pernod, Pastis, Ouzo or even Arak is a superior drink. Travelling to Switzerland, or for that matter the Czech Republic, to secure a bottle of Absinthe is a waste of time. I found the drink, made from wormwood, to be thoroughly unpalatable and incredibly bitter. Typically drunk with sugar disolved on a spoon with a bit of Absinthe heated over a flame, then added back to the drink which is poured into a glass containing water and ice whence the heretofore green liquid turns milky white. I tried 3 different brands with no hint of approachability. Reading about it proved to be infinitely more pleasurable. Try Rimbaud"s "Une Saison en Enfer." :wub:

Edited by jaypm51, 15 June 2004 - 05:41 AM.

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#99 KatieLoeb

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Posted 15 June 2004 - 05:32 AM

I purchased a bottle of Absinthe in Brataslava in 2001. I think the idea of having something "forbidden" overwhelmed my good sense. It still sits in my liquor cabinet as I'm afraid of it. :wacko: It smells pretty weird and my one brave friend that tasted a bit of it pronounced it "bizarre". And he likes Underberg! Someday I'll have to find a recipe to use it in. That souffle sounds like a possibility.

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#100 Stone

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Posted 15 June 2004 - 06:30 AM

The Czech Republic has been producing Absinthe for several years which means I've had the opportunity to sample the much touted and romanticized, read Rimbaud, Verlaine, Hemmingway et. al., "green fairy" on a number of occasions.
I've found that any good bottle of Pernod, Pastis, Ouzo or even Arak is a superior drink. Travelling to Switzerland, or for that matter the Czech Republic, to secure a bottle of Absinthe is a waste of time. I found the drink, made from wormwood, to be thoroughly unpalatable and incredibly bitter. Typically drunk with sugar disolved on a spoon with a bit of Absinthe heated over a flame, then added back to the drink which is poured into a glass containing water and ice whence the heretofore green liquid turns milky white. I tried 3 different brands with no hint of approachability. Reading about it proved to be infinitely more pleasurable. Try Rimbaud"s "Une Saison en Enfer." :wub:

what about the narcotic effect?

#101 Boris_A

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Posted 15 June 2004 - 07:02 AM

what about the narcotic effect?

Absinthe is made from 5-10 different ingredients. The famous narcotic effect is due to "thuyone", coming from a root. In high doses, it can lead to neuronal effects similar to epilepsis, I learned. Absinth was forbidden due to this. Or better: this was the official justification. I heard that some of the old Absinth had considerable methanol level, something that helped to increase and alterate the effect of aethanol, but can be highly dangerous (getting blind, for example).

Today, concentration of thuyone is limited to 35 mg/l. I have no idea how much the threshold dose needs to be for a narcotic effect, but I guess after consuming 1 liter of absinthe your'e going to have about the same narcotic effect like after drinkin 1 liter of bourbon.

Many times when a drug becomes fashionable, there are a lot of stories. If you read the first reports about the narcotic effect of coffee, you think they consumed something like LSD.

BTW, I tasted it once (illegal absinthe from the original place) and it was like the aforementioned Ouzo, Pernod, Ricard or Pastis.

Edited by Boris_A, 15 June 2004 - 07:07 AM.

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

#102 jaypm51

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Posted 15 June 2004 - 12:56 PM

Could never drink enough to experience the "narcotic effect" which, strictly speaking, is not narcotic at all. Its actually supposed to be hallucinogenic. Rimbaud reportedly had debilitating hallucinations following all night drinking bouts of absinthe. Incidentally, his hallucinations were green! :biggrin:
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#103 fresh_a

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Posted 15 June 2004 - 08:40 PM

Regarding the other link, absente is definitely NOT absinthe. Not made according to the same technique, and not made of the same stuff. I always have a bottle at home, of the real stuff either made in France for exportation only, or the Swiss stuff.
Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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#104 Boris_A

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Posted 15 June 2004 - 10:48 PM

As an aside, the Swiss absinthe I've seen is clear--evidently a lot of the green coloring one sees is exactly that, coloring in the name of marketing.

:smile:

There exist blue variants also. Hence sometime it's called "la Bleue". Which made nice headlines in the press yesterday: "Green light for La Bleue".

Coloring in the name of marekting is maybe the oldest and most successful marketing method in food history :biggrin:

Edited by Boris_A, 15 June 2004 - 10:48 PM.

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

#105 slkinsey

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Posted 04 November 2004 - 12:08 PM

From an article in today's Times:

For three years Claude-Alain Bugnon has competed with his wife for space in the unfinished concrete basement of their home here, she to do laundry, he to make absinthe.

Armed with plastic containers of dried herbs, tubs of pharmaceutical ethanol, a homemade still and a secret recipe from a friend's grandmother, Mr. Bugnon has used his skills as an oil refinery technician to produce the powerful herbal elixir long blamed for driving people mad.

In January a new law takes effect in Switzerland aimed at rehabilitating the reputation of absinthe, whose distillation, distribution and sale were banned after an absinthe-besotted factory worker killed his wife and children nearly a century ago.

The new law will allow Mr. Bugnon and dozens of other underground absinthe makers to "come out," as one Swiss newspaper put it, seek amnesty and produce absinthe legally.

Isn't there already commercial production of Absinthe in Switzerland? Anyway, the article makes it sound like the new law will pave the way for more "historical" absinthes with higher thujone concentrations.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#106 winesonoma

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Posted 04 November 2004 - 12:18 PM

One source that I know, Jade Liqueurs (absinthe@bestabsinthe.com).
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#107 DrinkBoy

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Posted 04 November 2004 - 12:37 PM

The Absinthe available from Jade Liqueurs is absolutely fabulous!

Nouvelle-Orléans, is the result of many years of exhaustive research and preparation by Ted Breaux to create an absinthe that is as close as possible to the absinthe that was made back in the 1800's. The various modern brands available pale in comparison.

The website for more overall information about this is: http://www.vintageabsinthe.com, and if you are interested in purchasing some, you can do that here: http://www.absintheo...talog/Jade.html

I ordered several bottles a while back, and they arrived in just a matter of days.

#108 slkinsey

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Posted 04 November 2004 - 12:39 PM

They sound really interesting. Of course, at $97.35/bottle plus shipping, they had better be! :smile:
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#109 J_Ozzy

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Posted 06 November 2004 - 05:47 PM

I'll second Drinkboy on purchasing absinthe through LdF (www.absintheonline.com).

While I haven't tried the Jade varietals yet, my previous orders (Un Emile brands) arrived quickly by courier without any fuss.

#110 MHesse

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Posted 11 November 2004 - 07:28 PM

So what is the buzz one gets from drinking absinthe?

As a chemistry teacher, I worry about the effects of the thujol (what a difference 30 years makes - when I didn't worry about anything).

Four of us recently tried a bottle of czech absinthe a friend brought back from Kos, Greece. It was pleasant, but I think most of the effect was from 120 proof alcohol, not thujol. We noticed tight foreheads and a tendency to smile a lot.

Nice chilled with ice, but had a good burn neat. Pretty blue color.
--mark
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#111 Jason Perlow

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Posted 11 November 2004 - 07:46 PM

I've sampled some of the "Un Emile 68" created by Emile Pernot distributed by Absinthe Online (http://www.absintheonline.com, who also distributes the Jade Nouvelle Orleans and the jade Verte Suisse 65) as well as rare 19th century Absinthe side by side (eGullet member pierreverte was nice enough to send me a small sample to try at the time). I thought the Un Emile was a very close recreation of the 19th century stuff I tried. I'd be very interested in trying the Nouveau Orleans one to see how it compares.
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#112 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 10:43 AM

An old friend wants to buy me a bottle of Absinthe for the holidays... We have narrowed it down to two:

Logan Fils

or

Absinth

Opinions anyone? I had some in Europe years and years ago, but don't remember the brand...

#113 Daniel

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 10:57 AM

I am certainly not that informed about absinthe.. But i normally order mine from this website when my friend who makes his own runs out.. Its good stuff, it gets to my apartment in less the three days.. I really like La Fee and its a lot less expensive http://www.eabsinthe.com/

#114 NulloModo

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 09:01 PM

I am interested in trying some Absinthe myself, but my understanding is that some varieties contain the real thujone (from real wormwood) and some don't. I would be interested in ordering a bottle witht he highest possible thujone content (hey, if you're gonna do it, might as well jump in with both feet). Any ideas of resources where I could find which bottle I want?
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He don't eat humble pie,
So sing a miserere
And hang the bastard high!

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#115 winesonoma

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 09:24 PM

try this www.absintheonline.com/acatalog/Jade.html

Edited by winesonoma, 08 December 2004 - 09:26 PM.

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#116 DrinkBoy

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Posted 09 December 2004 - 08:33 AM

I've tried many different brands of Absinthe, but not the two you list (Logan Fils, Absinth King of Spirits). Sabor was the first brand I had tried many years ago, and I still find it to be "good enough" when compared to many of the rest.

But hands down, my favorite has got to be Jade Liquor's new Absinthe... (as already recommended by winesonoma)... yes, at about $100 a bottle it is expensive, but if you are going to do it, I would recommend doing it right. This stuff is fabulous!

Forget trying to go for the highest possible thujone content. That's sort of like wanting to try a great cocktail, and then reaching for the EverClear because it has the highest possible alcohol content. "Real" Absinthe, back in the days when they were really making it, wasn't about the high thujone content, except perhaps in the rot-gut varieties.

-Robert Hess

#117 kvltrede

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Posted 09 December 2004 - 11:09 AM

I've tried many different brands of Absinthe . . . But hands down, my favorite has got to be Jade Liquor's new Absinthe... (as already recommended by winesonoma)...
-Robert Hess

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I'm assuming that the Jade Liquor's Nouvelle-Orleans is the appropriate selection if one was planning on using it for Sazerac's (at least on occasion). Is this correct?

If it's possible to put into words, can anyone who has tried both please give a brief idea of the differences between the Nouvelle-Orleans and the Jade Vert Suisse 65?

Also, do any of the usual suspects (Herbsaint, Pernod, Ricard, Absente) really come close in flavor to a "good" absinthe?

Thanks.

Kurt
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#118 DrinkBoy

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Posted 09 December 2004 - 04:33 PM

I've got a bottle of the Vert Suisse 65, but haven't opened it yet :-> Of the two, I'd buy the Nouvelle-Orleans. Primarily because it has a beautiful label, while the Vert Suisse is essentially unlabeled, with just a little gold sticker on it.

For a Sazerac, with how little Absinthe is really used, I don't think it makes much of a difference, as long as you use something good. Of the Faux-Absinthe (aka. "Pastis") I prefer Absente.

-Robert

#119 MaxH

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Posted 10 December 2004 - 01:16 AM

Of possible interest re absinthes and thujone and further info sources. On the assumption that you have some patience, and further that this site doesn't mind an occasional cross-reference to another. (I've no connection there, other than supplying some of the absinthe info.)

It was a recent and unusual thread on the WCWN wine site that began with meat stocks and moved to absinthe, with a segue via Beano™ and its many benefits and also the chemistry involved. (Frank D. is academic chemist in residence on that site. Many online wine fora, if not too large, seem to have their resident chemistry professor, it is a long tradition.) Here is a compressed link to the entire "stock" thread:

http://tinyurl.com/5exv4

Absinthe enters at the bottom of the first "page," at least on my display. (This may not, though, address the original question here.)

#120 goshi

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Posted 10 December 2004 - 09:31 AM

La Fee is really good Absinthe and it's liqourice finish, while burns like a mothersucker, is so well worth it.

Wormwood is overrated but the taste neat or over ice cold water and sugarcube is exotic.

Hope it helps.