Saturday, 26 February 2011


having just found a vintage absinthe spoon in a cluttered antique shop in got me thinking about trying  la fée verte (or "green fairy") again - favoured tipple of bohemian artists of the late 19th/early 20th century such as Baudelair, Rimbaud, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde and Aleister Crowley - to name a few. absinthe is a spirit made from the distillation of herbs including wormwood, green anise and sweet fennel, which originated in Switzerland in the 18th century (tho wormwood was used medicinally in ancient Egypt).
following its popularity and eventual ban 200 years later, spurred on by the temperence movement who thought it drove people crazy, it had a resurgence of popularity in specialist bars in London in the 1990s and i remember trying a few times to experience the mythical hallucinatory trip following the ritual (or "louche") of dripping cold water over a sugar laden spoon (tho not to be burned like sambuca - this is an abomination to absinthe afficionados!) into a glass of the green liquid - but always with limited results; mostly just getting a lot drunker, a lot quicker.  it turns out the hallucinatory effects are in fact mostly an exaggeration (those pesky poets) tho it does provide a clearer, cleaner state of drunkeness - it pretty much gives you the effects you would expect from the super strength spirit that it is. however, in the '90s there was only a poorer quality czech product on the market and nowadays there are a lot more higher quality varieties available.  so i think it is time to experiment again soon.

i have been checking out various websites that rate absinthe and give you full and detailed instructions on how to perform the rituals.  i came across a few articles via  liqurious which definitely warrant further investigation, including some interesting cocktail recipes that contain absinthe. of the absinthe products listed i do like the vintage look of the Stranger & Stranger bottle, with it's eye on the bottle top - sadly unavailable to purchase - it was just a christmas promotional bottle. 
Tenneyson Absinthe Royale apparantly has hints of gin and is perfect with tonic - so definitely sounds worth a try.  i am also drawn to the mirror-bottle modern absinthe Fenom - i am such a sucker for packaging - blimey, this one is lo-cal...hmmmm...not so sure about that!?!

i bought a bottle of Pandor for my brother's 40th - purely on the strength of the great packaging and must ask him whether he has ever sampled it and can comment on its quality.  i'm tempted to buy some myself - i just love that cheeky bottle!
Lucid, producers of a grande wormwood only recently available in the UK, have declared March 5th National Absinthe Day (tho i have a feeling this is primarily aimed at the US market!) - so it is certainly timely to sample this mysterious tipple....but with interesting fact: the Russian word for wormwood is chernobyl!!

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