Friday, October 06, 2006


In New Orleans recently, I wandered into a bar next to the cathedral, attracted by the large "WE HAVE ABSINTHE!" sign. When I asked what they had, I was poured a glass of Absente (ouch) in which a spoon was dipped and lit (double ouch) as I wheezed "wait". No point making a stink, and it was a delicious enough pastis, but I couldn't leave without explaing to the (very uninterested) bartender that it wasn't, in fact, absinthe.

Seems like folks get suckered a lot by "people in the know" who stand to gain from either deception or ignorance. It was interesting to read an article this morning about a bar in Orlando which appears as well to serve Absente as "absinthe," sans qualifiers or shame.

Appropriate (and timely) to see the new Absinthe Suckers tribe started by Alan.


  1. Well what do you expect? That I should just order in some wormwood distilled absinthe from overseas, hope that it does not get snagged in customs, pop the top, and start louching for everyone in downtown Orlando? Of course not, it’s illegal. Period.

    Everyone that steps food inside my restaurant is immediately made aware of the fact that it is illegal to sell absinthe in the United States. It even says so on my menu. The fun is in the fact that we are the only bar in town that even makes an attempt to mix drinks with the closest thing you can get to with regards to the flavor and proof of actual absinthe. We carry the wormwood extract, that's made by the good folks who produce Absinte. Add a couple of drops and bingo, you are on your way. So, to even claim boo on us for "sans qualifiers or shame" is ridiculous. We don’t pretend to sell absinthe. The name Absinthe Bistro and Bar is based in the idea that our food is based in high quality bistro classics that artists and poets can afford. Very much like a circa 1900's Parisian Bohemian would like to see it.

    Chef Mark Dollard
    Absinthe Bistro and Bar

  2. From the article:

    "According to business manager John Dobson, Absente is just another brand of Absinthe, very much like Three Olives is another brand of vodka."

    This is simply untrue, as Absente does not contain Artemisia absinthium.

    It seems like the bar does indeed pretend to sell absinthe, if we are to believe the menu which includes "Absinthe Frappe - Absinthe, Curacao, Orange Juice and Sour 8" and other drinks claiming to include "Absinthe," sans qualifiers.

    As for what I "expect," I expect nothing, but I would prefer people (1) not to spread the misinformation that Absente is absinthe and (2) not to claim to serve absinthe when you serve Absente.

    I encourage your marketing based on the history and mystique of absinthe, but please mind it and protect it.

  3. "We carry the wormwood extract, that's made by the good folks who produce Absinte. Add a couple of drops and bingo, you are on your way."

    Unfortunately, you're not on your way to anything approximating absinthe. As it happens, both Absente and Herbsaint are much more like absinthe without adding the wormwood extract. Hardly identical to absinthe, but they'll do in a pinch.

    You see, that extract stuff is really horribly nasty bitter because it's un-distilled; it's just wormwood soaked in alcohol. Real absinthe doesn't taste like that and it never did; anyone who has tasted absinthe made in the pre-ban era can tell you that.

    So when you add the extract to a drink, you make it taste completely unlike absinthe.

    It would be like making coffee with green, unroasted berries and serving it as coffee. Or plopping some batter on a plate and calling it "cake", sure it's the same ingredients, but...

    Absinthe cocktails were/are formulated based on the anise profile of absinthe, not extreme bitterness, hence the use of Pernod Anis as the most commonly called for substitute. Unfortunately, Pernod is pre-sweetened, and it adds a sweetness to traditional cocktails that wouldn't have been there.

    I hope this helps make some things clearer.

    For more info, check out my site,, or feel free to e-mail me via the site.

    ~ Hiram