Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Here's hoping everybody's having a great day with friends, family, good eats, and a glass of the good stuff, whatever that might be for you!

I've enjoyed a few absinthes with JS, starting with the St. George, then comparing to Edouard, Duplais Balance, a few others. St. George stands out in a crowd-- pronounced aftertastes are new to us, must be stinging nettles and/or meadowsweet. You would pick it first in a blind tasting lineup-- there's nothing like it. It benefitted from a cube of sugar after trying them all at 2:1, then watered to 3:1 or so. We kept coming back to "medicinal" and "greens" for flavor cues-- sort of vegetal, tea-like.

Thrilling that an American absinthe is as unique as this, appropriate that it comes from the Bay Area-- first had stinging nettles at the Chez Panisse Café-- it's one of the original gourmet ghetto ingredients-- chuckled when I first saw it listed on St. George's label!

For a little holiday cheer, try coming up with a new absinthe cliché/pun with this handy form:

Or, make your own:
If you come up with a good one, please leave it in the comments!

Update 11:30 PM: also a little Kübler, Lucid, Nouvelle Orleans, Marteau,...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

St. George: Early Arrival!

I leave San Francisco later tonight and figured I'd try the St. George absinthe when I get back in a few days, but DM just called to say he picked up my bottle from D&M Liquors-- I'm off to the Mission to pick it up!!! First louche picture to come ASAP...

Update 10:00PM: Got the bottle but I need to head to OAK in a few minutes...:( No time to louche it up, but I'll be following reports of the release event and tastings over the next few days, and I'll be back in SF by Christmas Eve for my first taste with a few friends. Couldn't resist shooting the label since it's not the 21st yet.

Drink Your Booze, Burn Your Fuel

Not the other way around!

With so many people finding absinthe available in the U.S., it's important that newcomers understand that the Czech fire show done with inferior absinthes may be fun when you're on vacation in Prague, but it is a party trick akin to beer bongs, keg stands, body shots, cement mixers, and its original inspiration in the 1990's: flaming Sambuca shots. Those games don't relate at all to how you would normally drink beer or spirits.

Thankfully, real absinthe distributors are taking the opportunity to explain the proper way to drink absinthe-- diluted or mixed in a cocktail. Ordering Kübler last night at Dalva, I asked "You don't burn it, do you?" and the bartender replied, "No, this isn't Czech garbage." Right answer!

So why not burn absinthe?

  • In its heyday, people drank their absinthe diluted with water-- they did not burn it-- no matter what the Czech producers may try to tell you,
  • It's DANGEROUS (see photo, via Static),
  • It is a waste of alcohol,
  • It does not encourage the absinthe to louche-- any cloudiness the caramelized sugar adds to the drink is not a louche effect at all.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Good Absinthe Info for the Public

Following its article yesterday about St. George Spirits Absinthe Verte, the San Francisco Chronicle posted an "All About Absinthe" Q+A section and an AP Interactive graphic with a voice-over by Ted Breaux. I don't dig the skull motif, but they didn't ask me.

As always, many questions and answers can be found at the two premier absinthe FAQ's online, at La Fée Verte and The Wormwood Society.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

St. George Spirits "Absinthe Verte"!

I'd heard rumors and now the word is out-- St. George Spirits of Alameda got final approval last Wednesday for their label and will start selling Absinthe Verte on December 21! The New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle are running full stories on it today, with photos and interviews with Lance Winters and everything! It's a pleasure to add an American distillery to the absinthe map. The cowbell on the label is a nice touch.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Crapsinthe, or "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them"

FrankenPart of what this blog is about is trying to draw a line between real absinthe and, for lack of a better term, crapsinthe-- absinthe made without regard to its history, marketed with a pack of falsehoods either through ignorance or deceit.

Czech "absinth" and "absynth," sold with untested thujone claims, are so foul, it's no wonder they do a fire show and a shot to distract from the taste. Claims of crazy times make sense-- shots of warm, high proof alcohol go straight to the head, making for a surreal drunk buzz.

The commercial crapsinthe folks have been more active lately, setting up spam sites for search results, making false statements and claims and leveling false accusations against real absintheurs in their shill blogs and forum postings. I wonder if just one person is posting and selling the same fluorescent mouthwash under a dozen brand names...

It all comes out in the end, it seems, if absinthe's recent press coverage is an indicator-- any decent reporter figures out early on the flawed logic of the crapsinthe peddlers and pays them no attention.

Update: It might seem that the czechabsinthe blog hosts some interesting conversations, but many comments have been censored. One censored comment was a reply by T.A. Breaux which Alan spotted and saved before it was removed by the host.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Happiness is...

...a fresh shipment from overseas...;)

Bloomberg: "Absinthe trickling back into the U.S."

The L.A. Times picked up a Bloomberg article on absinthe which helps fill in details on the approval process for Kübler and Lucid in the U.S. I had previously thought that Lucid did all the legal wrangling, but according to the article, Kübler (really Altamar Brands, its North American distributor) did most of the leg work (according to Wikipedia, getting "formula" approval (?) from the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau ("TTB") in 2004), with Lucid dealing with the last problem of labeling the beverage as "absinthe," apparently resulting in the "absinthe supérieure" designation. From the TTB "Industry Circular" #2007-5 dated Oct. 16, 2007:

The term "absinthe" may not stand alone on the label; it must be accompanied by additional or dispelling information so as not to appear as the class and type designation.
All in all, the Altamar Brands folks are doing a fine job of getting the word out about absinthe in the U.S.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Kübler at BevMo?!

Spoon spotted Kübler at BevMo! so hopefully Lucid isn't far behind. (Not to keep dissing Kübler, it's just not to my taste.) Al Brown spotted both absinthes for sale in Boston at Liquor Land and a few other places last week-- it will be interesting to see if Lucid can keep up with the more experienced Kübler in terms of satisfying market demand.

Update 12/5: Well, it looks like absinthe is totally mainstream-- just picked up Lucid from the same BevMo where Spoon spotted the Kübler.

Monday, November 19, 2007

IWSC 2007: Absinthe Awards

Award winners for Absinthe from the 2007 International Wine and Spirits Competition helps to explain why PF1901 and Verte Suisse supplies have been decimated:

Country Award Category Winning Spirit Producer
France Gold (Best in Class) Absinthe - France - 65-70% Jade Verte Suisse Jade Liqueurs
Switzerland Silver (Best in Class) Absinthe - Switzerland - 50-55% La Fée XS Absinthe Suisse BBH Spirits
Switzerland Silver (Best in Class) Absinthe - Switzerland - 60-72% Absinthe Duplais Balance 60% Oliver Matter & Markus Lion
France Silver Absinthe - France - 65-70% Jade PF 1901 Jade Liqueurs
France Bronze Absinthe - France - 65-70% La Fée Parisian Absinthe BBH Spirits
Switzerland Bronze Absinthe - Switzerland - 50-55% Absinth Studer Studer & Co AG

Friday, November 16, 2007


Stephen Colbert featured Lucid absinthe ("...brought to you by Cats...") on 10/29 and led viewers in a tongue-twisting "Absinthetinence" pledge:

absintinence pledge 1/3 absintinence pledge 2/3 absintinence pledge 3/3

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Press for U.S.-legal Absinthe

There has been a lot of U.S. press over the last two months since Kubler joined Lucid on American liquor store shelves (er, at least in the New York City area...):

and lots more!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


There has been a lot of Mansinthe press since it became available, and I've been happy to read that it does, in fact, contain Artemisia absinthium, not just pontica, making it a proper absinthe after all! I tried a glass with Spoon and thought it was ok, though there was an artificial flavor that put me off, and the color doesn't look quite natural... but, then, Mr. Manson isn't exactly nature boy! Recent hype:

Hitting the Big Time

"Absinthe Returns in a Glass Half Full of Mystique and Misery" in the New York Times by Edward Rothstein made the front page "INSIDE NYTIMES.COM" band yesterday, and today is the third most-emailed article! A slightly stylized piece running down the famous names, glancing over details of the ban in favor of details on the lifting of the ban, including a tasting of Lucid and Kübler:

...once I sat down with bottles of Kübler, Lucid and some friends, the cause of absinthe’s reputation didn’t matter, nor did the absence, in these brands, of the pearly green color of legend. What I did find, along with flavors of anise, fennel, coriander, mint and other herbs, was something different in the liquid’s effect, a kind of relaxed alertness accompanying the lulling impact of alcohol.
NYTimes also published "A Fond Hello" about absinthe as its "Shaken and Stirred" cocktail column for 9/30 in the Fashion & Style section.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Absinthe on the Way!

So much happening for absinthe! Lull in posting notwithstanding, more is on the way, but I'll premention:

But for now, "Tree That Owns Itself" (wiki)!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Hangar One Absinthe?

Via the Fee Verte Forums, a video from The Daily Geek of St. George Spirits, producers of Hangar One vodka. About 2/3 of the way through, master distiller Lance Winters shows a batch of absinthe he's working on...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Wired on Lucid Absinthe: "Barely Legal"

The Lucid media machine keeps rolling forward, with Wired publishing an article today comparing Lucid to Jade Liquor's Verte Suisse as well as Absente and two Czech brands. The always, uh, lucid Ted Breaux explains some history and chemistry, making sure to take a swipe at the foul Czech products which consistently misrepresent both.

Though retailers sold out of their first cases quickly, drinkupny.com (free shipping ftw!) accepts pre-orders of Lucid, expecting to receive their next shipment in the last week of July. You can find a list of other vendors along with bars, restaurants, and clubs serving Lucid at DrinkLucid.com.

Update: Got my Lucid... and I like it! Tastes like a Jade but with less flavor, very balanced recipe... much better than I'd expected!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Report from Boveresse

Affiche 2007Back from Europe for a week now, I finally posted a Flickr set and have time to comment on la Fête d'Absinthe in Boveresse. Short story: good times, new friends, great food and drink (oh the drinks!), and a bright future for absinthe's resurgence. A few observations in no particular order...

  • Val de Travers is beautiful! With spectacular wild greenery in every direction-- any random square meter of weeds reveals a dozen or more wildflowers in bloom-- it's no mystery how a drink like absinthe originated in this special place. The hospitality and charm of the locals (except for one guy in a cow suit) made the Valley a pleasure to visit and ensured that I'll make the trip again.
  • The "forum people" were a blast! I mean absinthe people, really-- connoisseurs, evangelists, artists, absintheurs, distributors-- everyone knew the history and traditions and had strong (generally shared) opinions, and I felt an instant camaraderie-- we're all working to bring it back the right way, and it was great to be surrounded by Swiss, French, Italian, German, English, Danish, Swedish, and American devotees of la fée.
  • The selection of absinthes at the festival was a slight disappointment for many attendees, and while I had expected mostly blanches, I didn't realize that vertes' presence would be so rare. There is some effort to expand (back) into that area, specifically Claude-Alain Bugnon's announcement of his new Verte Suisse "Angélique" with a deep, natural green tint, and Absinthe La P'tite's "Absinthe la Valdetra Verte", a very light green absinthe, more a nod to the green tradition (and a clever play on words to boot). My favorite blanches were La P'tite, La Philosophe, and "Elixer du Pays des Fées", though I have to confess-- it got hard to tell them all apart after the first few tastes.
  • Nico rocks. His bar rocks. I want an mp3 of "Ketchup"... did anybody record him?!
  • Absinthe is Absinthes are coming to America! I heard mention that Kubler has already gotten approval to sell in the U.S. as well as another new absinthe (which I'm not sure has been announced) produced by a joint venture between an established expert and existing absinthe distillery. It would be great to see (and be involved with?!) an American-based producer-- it will happen sooner or later.
  • It seemed like everybody who made the trip from the U.S. hailed from the San Francisco Bay Area-- makes sense given the tradition of Northern California foodies appreciating the best of the best in food and drink. Too bad I haven't been able to find Lucid on any Bay Area liquor store shelves.
More Festival notes to follow, but it's a beautiful Saturday so I'm pouring another glass... Santé!

Monday, June 18, 2007

La Fete...:)

The festival Saturday was a blast-- a pleasure to finally meet some other absinthe people face-to-face. Photos, play-by-plays (with discretion) and more to come... but not for a few days; I'm still traveling around Donnie Rumsfeld's favorite "Old" continent.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Visit to Combier

Oxy and a few folks stopped by the Combier Distillery in Saumur, checking out the ancient works and visiting with Jade Absinthe creator Ted Breaux. Hopefully more dispatches from the Kallistifest trail to follow...

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Trying to figure out the impact of Lucid's approval is tough. Hopefully we'll know more after next weekend, as the only coherent information I've found so far is Oxy's summary of the situation on the Fee Verte Forum, linked on his blog and quoted by Alan on his blog and the Wormwood Society Forum.

Searches for government documents on the submission or approval came up with nothing. [Still searching...] Regarding editing the Fee Verte FAQ about absinthe's legality in the US, Oxy writes:

1. Absinthes with less than (approximately) 10mg/l thujone are now potentially legal in the US.
2. Two others (apart from Lucid) have already been approved, and dozens will follow in due course.
Read the rest...

Friday, June 01, 2007

Absinthe Festival Program

Le programme de la 10ème fête has been posted-- looking forward to meeting other fans and putting some faces to names... and, of course, tasting great absinthe in the place where it all began.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Lucid Absinthe Supérieure... for the U.S. market?!

Lucid eyes logo Somehow, Viridian Spirits of Manhasset, N.Y. has managed to get US approval for what appears to be an actual "absinthe" with apparently significant consulation with Mr. Ted Breaux. The New York Times reported this last week (Times Select) (Lucid article pdf) and while I haven't had time to do much research and the marketing sort of rubs me the wrong way (unlike, for instance, the Jade designs), I'd like to hear more about how it tastes; one account here by Darko is pretty complimentary. Still scratching my head...

Update: Donnie Darko posted the first official Lucid review on the Fee Verte Forums, scoring it 80/100.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Drab Mayko Absinthe Photos

Lovely absinthe photo set on Flickr by "Drab Makyo" includes Jades, Eichelbergers, both Fougerolles(es?), and a Duplais. They're a nice contrast to all the burning absinthe shot photos on Flickr.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

"Mansinthe"? Hmmm...

Word is out that Marilyn Manson has unveiled his "Mansinthe" absinthe-like spirit, produced by Markus Lion. The drink apparently contains no (large) wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), but likely contains a good quantity of Roman wormwood (Artemisia pontica) to get around U.S. laws regarding the former herb... no matter that the latter contains that controvertial toxin as well...

Good to bet on this and other absinthe fans having to correct bloggers and journalists who will surely refer to it as an actual "absinthe"...:)

Update: Turns out they bailed on the "no large wormwood" plan and that Mansinthe is, in fact, proper absinthe. More info to come...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

State of the Industry

Oxygenee"Oxygenee" posted "An unsentimental look at the absinthe industry" in the Fée Verte Absinthe Forum-- interesting reading, esp. the replies. I don't understand the pessimistic tone of many of his points; I prefer to see the markets as just starting to bud, and while nobody expects absinthe to regain its original popularity, high quality absinthe will gradually become easier to find and less expensive.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Boveresse 2007: dixième fête...

I wonder-- how does one participate in tastings at a fête de l'absinthe? The official site still doesn't list the programme...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Absinthiades '06 Tasting

Louisa Chu posted a report with some great photos about her experience as a jurist tasting ten different absinthes at the 2006 Absinthiades in Pontarlier. Via Chow.com's "The Grinder".

Thursday, March 08, 2007

LiquorSnob Absinthe Reviews

The folks over at Liquor Snob have posted astute reviews of two Artemisias (La Clandestine and La Capricieuse) and three Duplais' (Blanche, Balance, and Verte). They preferred La Clandestine over La Capricieuse (as do I-- coriander?), and the Blanche was their favorite of the Duplais' for "day to day" drinking.

Curious how they'd compare the Duplais Verte to La Clandestine, but I'm psyched that that they picked the Duplais Blanche over the vertes for, well, political reasons: I think absinthe can only enter the U.S. market if people grow to think of it as more related to gin (martini==cool) than to Everclear (purple punch==ambulance). In addition to colored absinthes being more strongly flavored, demanding green absinthe makes the market too susceptible to the new horrible Czech "absinth tradition" since the concentrations needed for properly colored absinthe to enter the U.S. market (~68%?) won't fly, so to be green, it would have to be artificially colored. Tough pickle...

Monday, March 05, 2007

Absinthe Party Bust: No Charges!?!

Paul Wow! From Paul himself, here's the latest on the legal proceedings after the busted absinthe party on December 29, 2006. From Paul's blog entry:

We were never actually charged with anything. The police confiscated my absinthe and wrote tickets to several of my servers and to myself. The tickets where notices to appear in court. We showed up in court this morning and no charges had been filed. The DA decided not to pursue the matter at all. So we have not been charged with anything. We didn't even walk into a court room.

Via Alan's Real Absinthe Blog

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The USB Absinthe Spoon?

+ + ?!

Why a USB absinthe spoon?
To keep recipes, designs, photos, translations, etc., (encrypted, of course)! There are a few replies along those lines. Not sure why this is newsworthy, and it sure doesn't look like a real product, but people sent it to me, so here you go!

Friday, February 16, 2007

ROTFLMAO on Tribe! (or, "What Not To Do")

Kurt!Hilarious thread on the Absinthe "tribe" started by Kurt about his "DIY batch #3." I (thought I) was politely guiding him to Oxy's FAQ when he got huffy and insulting-- this is what makes the internets so rich! My favorite parts:

"...your opinion is wrong. I neither acknowledge nor respect your authority."

"simulacrum" [really? wow!]

"If I want your opinions, I'll ask for them."

"Expressing an opinion [...] is orthogonal to the intentions of this thread. Such expressions are distractions."

"I'm sorry you are confused."

I can't help bursting out in laughter when he says "simulacrum" and "orthogonal"-- makes milk shoot out of my nose!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

More lousy absinthe

"Hapsburg" Absinthe Premium Reserve at 89.9% abv, part of the idiotic absinthe line at Wine and Spirits International, Inc., (weak) branding by Pemberton & Whitefoord.

It seems like fluorescent blue-green absinthe (on fire!) is here to stay, gauging by Flickr's absinthe photos.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Duplais on Liquor Snob

Liquor snob post about Duplais winning a gold medal at the 2006 IWSC, but no actual review... strange for them! They probably thought it best to keep themselves legit with "we'd really like to get our hands on a bottle" and "from what we're hearing..." They do link to Absinthe-Distribution.com, of course...;)

Update: Yep, they ordered it, and they got their shipment of the 3-pack; looking forward to reading their reviews. I bet they prefer the blanche.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"Auto Verseur" Dripper

Antique style see-saw dripper (brouilleur) at The Absinthe Spoon (part of the Oxy megasite) hinges back and forth as the water dribbles out of the reservoir.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

"Flirting with the Forbidden"

Travel + Leisure Magazine article on "forbidden" delicacies and the way they got that way: ortolan (crazy eating ritual! See image), beluga caviar, foie gras, rare hamburgers, raw dairy, ibérico ham, trans fats, no live lobsters at Whole Foods (sheer idiocy)... and, of course, absinthe. From the article:

The problem with legislating eating habits isn’t just that the rules are often arbitrary. It’s that there’s no obvious place to stop. Food is intrinsically dangerous—for God’s sake, you put it in your mouth. This is the risk one assumes with the blessing and burden of having an appetite.

Via Alan at the Wormwood Society forums.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Q: Does absinthe really cause hallucinations?

A: NO! Check out this concise article at "howstuffworks" with the right words in bold face: 110 to 144 proof, wormwood, distilled, thujone, chlorophyll, and they put the thujone in its place:

By the end of the distillation process, there is very little thujone left in the product. Modern science has estimated that a person drinking absinthe would die from alcohol poisoning long before he or she were affected by the thujone. And there is no evidence at all that thujone can cause hallucinations, even in high doses.

Via Selmac on the Wormwood Society Forums.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Absinthe Antiquities

mthuilli has offered up a few antique hand-blown glasses and other paraphernalia at the Wormwood Society forums, though I was too late and someone else scored this incredible (perfect?!) example. The cordon glass may still be available.

Perique Liqueur de Tabac

While not absinthe, Perique Liqueur de Tabac is a Perique tobacco-based liqueur, the newest product from Jade Liqueurs and another exploration of rare flavors by Ted Breaux, available now from Absinthe Online. Read what Mr. Breaux has to say about it in the Wormwood Society forums.