Sunday, October 24, 2010

#86 - Absinthe

Absinthe seems the most mysterious of alcoholic beverages.  It's made from wormwood.  There's a specific way of preparing it for consumption.  It was banned completely in the United States and many other countries for years, and the production and sale is still highly regulated.  It's said to cause hallucinations.

The use of it in films tends to reinforce these myths ... check out these two clips.  The first is from Moulin Rouge

The second from the 1992 version of Dracula

Wow, looks like this is some stuff!  I regret to say that my taste did not lead me to reciting poetry at the Moulin Rouge or reuniting with a sinister love from a past life.  Although just a few sips did make me tipsy ... not surprising as La Fee absinthe is 68% alcohol by volume - that's higher than almost any other drink, including whisky, brandy, vodka, tequila, and most varieties of rum. 

The first couple of sips I took were undiluted.  Here's what the liquor looks like
It tastes almost exactly like licorice pastilles.  And, although it didn't cause me to choke, the rush of heat that followed the swallow made me feel like I was going to spontaneously combust!  The traditionally diluted version of the drink was cloudier, tasted a bit gritty, and had an aftertaste of fennel that lingered until I brushed my teeth several hours later.

The ritual of preparing absinthe involves placing a special flat slotted spoon over the top of the glass, setting a sugar cube on the spoon, and dripping cold water over the sugar.  (The video clip from Dracula above shows steps of this preparation.)  Sometimes the sugar cube is set on fire before the water dilutes it.

Would I try it again?  Probably not.  I'm not a big fan of overpowering licorice taste; I even give away my black jelly beans at Easter time.


  1. Who knew? Very interesting. I'll take your black jelly beans - I LOVE them.

  2. Very cool! We've tried the pretend absinthe they sell here in the states and although I love the color and the cool flat spoon, I thought it tasted horrible. Like licorice, but not in a good way like Ouzo. ;) Thanks for sharing this experience!