Musings on absinthe

For reasons that go back to my college days and my love of drink, I’ve developed a passing interest in Absinthe, and I’ve written about it here a few times. If you’re not familiar with it, it was a liquor that was very popular during the latter half of the 19th century. It was pretty much globally outlawed in the early 20th century because of fears that some of the compounds in it cause addiction, dementia and other ills. I was at a cocktail party this summer where the host brought out a bottle of it and this led to some controversy around the table – the host was under the impression he had purchased an actual bottle of it, whereas others (including myself) were convinced that what is sold as Absinthe in Europe these days bears little in common with the Absinthe of the 19th century beyond the name. Wired is running a pretty interesting article that sheds light on this – it turns out everyone was in fact partly right. Much of what is being sold as Absinthe is pretty much junk but you can actually buy some decent vintages, thanks in large part to the research of Ted Breaux, the subject of the wired article I linked to.

It’s still illegal to buy or consume Absinthe in the US, unfortunately. It’s also easy enough to find an importer willing to sell it to you though, a quick example being absintheonline.com, who happens to carry the vintage discussed in the wired article for ~$100.00 a bottle plus shipping. Their FAQ claims they’ve been shipping to the US for years with no legal problems. As before I am sorely tempted to order myself a bottle but I worry about the potential legal consequences, something the Wired article fails to cover. Any thoughts from my readers? Anyone interested in an Absinthe fueled New Year’s eve this year? $100 a bottle plus shipping sounds expensive but what price a unique experience? To me it seems pretty damned cheap when you think of it in that context. Any takers?

0 thoughts on “Musings on absinthe

  1. asmerl says:

    All that would happen (if anyone bothered to care) would be that the bottle would be confiscated. You wouldn’t go to jail or be fined or anything like that. A $100 dollars a bottle is actually a pretty reasonable price. FYI – There is also an underground bar in Brooklyn that sell it if you ever want to take a roadtrip to try it.

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  2. Jesse says:

    Ever scored a couple of bottles, possibly off that guy, for free. He gave them to him for the Xmas party at his office, a record company, in the hopes that famous people would drink it and like it. Instead, the office wouldn’t allow them to serve it, and he took them home.

    They tasted like licorice mixed with butt.

    They got me drunk fast enough to mask any other effect.

    I don’t remember the brands he had…

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  3. dlh says:

    Hmm, so I risk $100 or so and at worst it doesn’t show up. Sounds like a done deal to me.

    Jesse, yeah, I’ve tried it too though I suspect the stuff I had was one of the bad bottles. Also there’s a method to preparing absinthe, you don’t just sip it from a glass (which is how the host served it when I drank it). You’re supposed to pour it through ice to chill it – think jaegermiester, then think jaegermiester warm. Or maybe that’s the way you had it, chilled I mean.

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