Sunday, November 18, 2012

Absinthe, Part 2

Years ago I wrote a blog about Absinthe.  Here it is:

Basically what happened was I drank one mixed drink of absinthe (one shot, 1 1/2 ounces), a few hairy things went down.  One drink.  I can't exactly say what happened back then because a lot of it was private.  But there are a few things about absinthe that I would like to expand on.

First of all, this is the best European site for real absinthe:

In the U.S. we are limited as to what kinds we can buy.  They just made some kinds of it legal a few years ago.  Simply put, the absinthe in the U.S. is thujone free.  Thujone is the ingredient that supposed to cause hallucinations, but even in vintage absinthes, there isn't enough in it to really cause any.  But that doesn't mean it isn't potent.  The alcohol percentage varies by maker, but it is usually as strong as something like Everclear.  That's why most absinthe mixes tell you to mix cut it with cold water by a 5 to 1 margin. 

Here's "Lucid" the U.S. brand I tried:

Here's a great article talking about the different types of absinthe, and what the new ones are like:

But I actually wanted to write about something else.  Mainly, the way absinthe's tastes are described.  First and foremost remember this, absinthes have a strong black liquorice taste.  No matter what they say, it tastes like overly strong black liquorice.  So why do the descriptions of it say this?

Herbs are maybe the most important factor when it comes to high quality Absinthe. Therefore we have selected the best possible quality herbs and wine alcohol to make Absinthe Duplais an adorable, excellent drink.

We created a composition of herbs, where all aromas coexist and none of them is predominant. Although this balance sets free a specific pleasant taste, which is light, complex and subtle.

First off, absinthe is never, ever subtle.  It's subtle in the way that moonshine is subtle.  The next quote is a review of one of the better, more expensive absinthes.

I disagree with the quote above, as being that I've worked with A. pontica quite a lot, I don't taste the peculiar flavor of that herb in this all. In fact, I can't think of *any* modern product which employs that particular herb, this one notwithstanding. Therefore, my revelation comes as no surprise.

Nevertheless, this product tastes like some effort went into it, and the flavor comes off as a peculiar balance of both anise and a couple of atypical aromatic essences, the combination of them giving almost a pleasant 'cough-syrup' like aroma and flavor. The texture of the flavor tells me something about how the herbs were prepared, and unlike the other Spanish products, it doesn't taste like any 'oily' adulterants were added to the distillate. Tasting the liqueur neat, I don't taste the pointed flavor of absinthium right off, but rather I get the heady scent of other aromas which present an alternate, unobtrusive bitterness. Don't mistake this for absinthium, it isn't. What I notice here is that the bitterness from the other essences seems to hit the bitter receptors rather quickly, so that's what you'll taste most prevalently.

Honestly, all he had to say was "pleasant cough syrup."  That would have been perfect. 

To reinforce what I'm saying, all you have to do is look up absinthe recipes.  Because it's not meant to be drunk straight.  Even the most bare bones recipe calls for you to caramelize sugar cubes, and then cut the drink with cold water and ice.  Here's a great list of absinthe mixes.

Even the suggestions on the bottle of lucid had some pretty simple mixes.  Basically every single one of them did their best to cover up the real taste of absinthe.  That kind of sends a confusing message.  You want to drink the drink, but not taste the drink.  But let's be honest, the stuff is pretty awful.

So, I don't think I will be buying a bottle any time soon.  Namely, because a bottle of it is $60 a bottle plus state and county alcohol/sales taxes.  And I don't actually drink alcohol anymore, so that's another reason not to buy any.  And of course, it just tastes like "blah."

It reminds me of the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" episode where she kept drinking alcohol, and kept hating it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment