Monday, January 18, 2010

Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder

There are few beverages that enjoy the reputation and mystique that absinthe commands.

It's fabled to be highly addictive, and inducing hallucinatory flights of fancy - as evidenced by the writing and painting produced by famous turn-of-the-century artists, poets and the like.

It has been OUTLAWED in the US, till fairly recently, thanks to this air of mystery.

The prohibition has ended now, which is sort of bittersweet for me. Lovely, because now you can try the *real thing* and not have to suffer licorice flavored liqueurs. Sad, because it's losing some of it's magic - 'the man' has decided it's not a psychoactive drug laden beverage, just highly alcoholic.

I love the idea of absinthe for the same reasons I love the idea of High Tea: I find the era fascinating, and the process involved nothing short of magically ritualistic.

Proper absinthe glasses are glass or crystal, with a reservoir that measures a shot of absinthe. They have a kind of angular deviance to them - at once elegant any mysterious looking. The absinthe spoon is a singular tool and come in artful designs. The main requirement is that the spoon has holes in it to facilitate water flowing through a sugar cube resting on the spoon. But the shapes of the holes and even the material of the spoon is completely up for grabs.

Then there is the process of the classic absinthe drink. It's not a quick dumping of ingredients and a stir. Oh no. There's a sort of meditative style to it. First, the absinthe. Then the placement of spoon and sugar cube. And finally the s l o o o w pour of cold water over the sugar cube. The result: a cloudy liquid that smells like herbs drying in some forbidden place of knowledge and gnarly powers.

Needless to say, I've ordered my glass and spoon and I've got a place in mind to purchase my first bottle of absinthe. Will imbibing inspiring in me works of art and literature? Will it initiate a careening madness? Or will it just lead to a wicked morning hangover? We shall see...

Follow here for absinthe visual delight.


absinthejack said...

Great post! I have been an avid fan of absinthe for about 10 years and I agree completely - there's something facinating and magical about preparing an absinthe. You don't just pour and drink, you have to make it. And the paraphenalia (spoon, glasses, fountain) add so much charm to this wonderful elixer. Cheers!

Laura said...

What brand are you planning to get? I've tried three, and my favorite by far is Absente.

june said...

Thanks for stopping by absinthejack ;D Maybe you can share some wisdom? Got a website?

I'm planning on trying Lucid - I HATE the packaging, but it was the "first" to claim to be legitimate legal absinthe with wormwood and the whole nine yards. I don't know if that's accurate, but I figured it was a good place to start.

Laura said...

I tried Lucid (at the Umstead bar) and it's a lot meaner tasting than Absente, so if you try it and don't like it, don't be scared off--you might still like Absente. I thought Lucid had a bit of a "smoky" taste to it, almost like whisky. Absente has a much more pronounced licorice taste than Lucid does. Lucid is higher proof than Absente, but only a little, whereas tastes a *lot* stronger. That's all I can remember from comparing the two over a month ago!