From: Starrman [mailto:[redacted]]
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2007 10:13 AM
To: Reflector, Westy
Subject: absinthe ..
what up Wes-T.
I hear you are our resident expert on absinthe. I also hear that it was just legalized.
Can you recommend a good real bottle that I could easily pick up here in the city? I’m dying to try this stuff .. I have tried the artificial green licorice variety last time I was in greece and was underwhelmed. Is there anything available with real wormwood .. actually hallucinogenic?
From: Westy Reflector [mailto:[redacted]]
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2007 2:08 PM
Subject: RE: absinthe ..
How’s the eyeball business? Sorry I missed you the other week. I trust Tull was excellent.
I spent 1 night in London in the late 90s drinking the The Green Fairy with a few friends and by the end of the night we had all made up new names for ourselves and I woke up in someone else’s shirt. Since then, I’ve been obsessed. I’ve gotten a few bottles through customs on trips to Europe in the last 10 years, and have a small stash in my cabinet. You might be able to import some of the good stuff without trouble now from overseas liquor sites, but it’s probably still a bit hit-or-miss, and customs agents may seize the shipment. At close to $200 per bottle for the real deal (especially with the dollar so weak), ordering online is a risk I’ve never taken. There aren’t too many absinthes legally available here yet as the Treasury Dept has not 100% relaxed the restriction (which has been in effect since before Prohibition). As of now, St. George’s Absinthe Verte (California) is the realreal deal, and I’m told the Kubler 53 (Switzerland) is also supposed to have its charms.
The hallucinatory effects are relatively mythological. It’s not in the realm of psilocybin, but wormwood is an herb, not a grain, so the drunk is a kaleidepleasantfuzzyscope and totally different than good vodka, bourbon or scotch. That said, don’t expect the kid on the U2 War poster in your dorm room to start talking to you. Part of the deal is that it is so alcoholic (110 – 180 proof), knocking a couple back is going to eff you up no matter what. 2-3 over the course of a couple hours will set you up for a nice night and the wormwood doesn’t seem to cause much of a hangover, but that could just be me. The flavor’s always anise-based, btw, so if it was the licorice-ness of it you didn’t like, you will not like any absinthe (or Pernod, Sambuca, etc…). I don’t know what brand you had in Greece, but it sounds like it wasn’t top shelf. There are a couple types of wormwood used in commercial absinthes and only the Grande Wormwood variety (which St George uses) is worth seeking out.
To release the full effect:
— Get a highball or a short-stemmed v-shaped absinthe glass (or some other barware that says “drinker’s drink”). Also grab a tiny bowl.
— Cover glass with a slotted spoon (there are special absinthe spoons and yes, I have one, but any old slotted spoon will do…)
— Place a sugar cube in a bath of absinthe in the tiny bowl. Let it soak for approx 2-3 min.
— Place the sugar cube on the spoon.
— Pour 1-2 shots of absinthe through the sugar into the glass.
— Light the sugar cube on fire and let it caramelize on the spoon.
— When the flame has gone out, use a medicine dropper (unless if you have some kind of auto-titration machine) to slowly (a drop at a time if you can stand it) dilute the drink with iced water to desired intensity. The burnt sugar adds a charrysweet finish. As ice water is dropped into good absinthe, an ethereal cloud develops called a louche (“loosh”), and it can be lulling to watch, like an alcoholic lava lamp, so some water dropping is integral to the experience. Absinthes are judged on the quality of their louche, their hue (always somewhat green, hence the “The Green Fairy”) and their lack of bitterness.
— Sip it and let your liver make the magic happen.
If you want it cold, drop ice in it or shake it with ice after the louche – that is, if you want to experience the louche’s development. Absinthe will immediately louche if poured over ice.
You can also mix it with club soda or in long drinks with other alcohols for a different twist on the genre. It will give any drink it’s in a louche, btw.
Expect absinthe to be the “trendytrendy” going into next year. Hopefully the availability will outlast the fad and won’t be squelched by the gov’t, which is probably trying to flush out us absinthe drinkerz with this fun little relaxation experiment. Then again, that could just be the absinthe talking…
Hope this helps!