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Tiki Central Forums Tiki Drinks and Food Absinthe... discuss.
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Absinthe... discuss.
VampiressRN
  

Joined: Nov 23, 2006
Posts: 5797
From: Sun City Lincoln Hills (NorCal)
Posted: 2010-11-06 9:25 pm   Permalink

Thanks for the honest reply to my question MM, I knew it wasn't green and found that confusing, but seemed like it had all the other quality components, so your answer was very helpful.

Sven...thank you so much for posting those pictures...I love surrealism and find the steam punk intriguing. Those animals are just fabulous!!! Wow...what it must be like to be in that artist's mind. One of my favorite artists is Michael Parks...fairly tame next to those animal sculptures.


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11249
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-11-08 7:58 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2010-11-06 20:35, Mr. Moto wrote:
Sorry I can't be more positive. What else is available where you live?



Well, I am afraid that my otherwise trusty source Vendome Liquors let me down. Having brought home my Absinthe from Europe (like Serpis and Un Emile) until now, I went to them because they have a very good selection of rums, from all over the world. But alas, they seem woefully under-stocked in the Absinthe department. This is the extent of their offerings:



Now one of these you already shot down, and two of them just seem to be regular Pastis.
Then they had this:



A bottle with a book? A book with a bottle? Maybe that's a combination I should try to author sometime!
But frankly, it seems kind of suspicious to me, like it would be neither nor. Any enlightening comments for the local Absinthe seeker, Mr. M?


 
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Mr. Moto
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 08, 2010
Posts: 41
Posted: 2010-11-09 05:32 am   Permalink

Of those, Leopold Brothers is far and away the best. It's made at a micro-distillery in Colorado. Lots of fruity anise, peppery coriander, and fresh, clean wormwood. Also notes of honey and butterscotch. I believe it's made with a pisco base, which is unique. It's one of my favorites to use in tiki drinks as it plays very well with rum and fresh fruit juices.

The Roux Supreme Absinthe is basically just a 151-proof version of Grande Absente. Artificially colored and sweetened.

Le Tourment Verte is junk; not real absinthe. It's blue, it doesn't louche and it's predominant taste is a kind of mentholated eucalyptus (no joke). The other two are pastis--absinthe substitutes (anise taste, but no wormwood). Ricard is not bad for a pastis, but I prefer the new Original Herbsaint.




[ This Message was edited by: Mr. Moto 2010-11-09 05:40 ]


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11249
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-11-09 09:47 am   Permalink

Thanks, good to have an informed voice to help navigate the nouveaux Absinthe jungle out there. Here is another question: These are not cheap. The better the spirit, the higher the price, as is true for all fine alcoholic beverages out there, but what in your opinion is the best value, meaning the lowest price for the most tasty, authentic Absinthe available in the U.S. right now?
And as a sub-question, if you had the money to spend, what is your best quality Absinthe and its price?

P.S.: Here is a great Absinthe piece I had not seen before:



by Pablo Picasso

[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2010-11-09 12:50 ]


 
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Mr. Moto
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 08, 2010
Posts: 41
Posted: 2010-11-09 7:32 pm   Permalink

Absinthe can be pricey, it's true; ironically, however, some of the worst stuff out there is the most expensive! Case in point: "King of Spirits Gold," an unspeakably awful Czech brand, retails for $200!

By contrast, most of the good, authentic absinthes on the US market retail for around $55-$75, which isn't really so bad--especially when you consider that you only use dashes in cocktails and an ounce per serving in the traditional absinthe preparation (diluting 1 part absinthe with 3-5 parts cold water). A single bottle goes a long way.

IMHO, the best bang for your buck is Vieux Carre, an absinthe distilled in Philadelphia which retails for around $55. While it's not a completely "traditional" absinthe (its herb bill includes mint and genepi, along with the usual anise, wormwood, and fennel), it's very tasty. Other good deals include Pacifique, which runs around $65, and Mansinthe (Marilyn Manson's absinthe, which is actually pretty good) at around $59. I'd also recommend Lucid and Kubler for folks wanting to get a sense of what a traditional verte and blanche, respectively, taste like. They're not the finest absinthes out there, but they're a good place to start and relatively inexpensive.

My favorite absinthes currently on the US market are probably Delaware Phoenix Meadow of Love, Delaware Phoenix Walton Waters, Pacifique, Vieux Carre, and Marteau Absinthe de la Belle Epoque. Some are pricier than others (though none are normally over $80-$85), but all are delicious.

If money is no object and you have a hankering to order fine absinthe from Europe(be prepared to pay out the nose for shipping, US residents), I'd definitely recommend the Jade line: PF 1901 (maybe my favorite commercial absinthe), Edouard, VS 1898, and Nouvelle-Orleans. Also excellent are La Berthe de Joux, Perroquet, and La Maison Fontaine from the Emile Pernot distillery in France, and Brevans AO Spare and Duplais Balance from the Matter distillery in Switzerland.

IMO:

Best place to order absinthe online in the US is DrinkUpNY at:

http://www.drinkupny.com/category_s/86.htm

Best place to order online internationally is Liqueurs de France at:

http://www.absintheonline.com/index.html

Hope this helps!


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11249
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-11-10 12:11 am   Permalink

Well it sure helps to impress me! Do you spend much time being sober?
Thanks a bunch, I feel in the know now.


 
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Mr. Moto
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 08, 2010
Posts: 41
Posted: 2010-11-10 08:40 am   Permalink

Not if I can help it. My obsession with absinthe, vintage cocktails, and tiki drinks keeps me pretty busy (or should I say buzzed?).

Seriously, though, glad to be of help. There's so much misinformation out there about absinthe, I'm happy to combat it when I can by providing some facts (and a few opinions along the way, of course).

Cheers!

[ This Message was edited by: Mr. Moto 2010-11-10 08:41 ]


 
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TorchGuy
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Joined: Apr 24, 2008
Posts: 209
From: Renton, WA
Posted: 2010-11-11 06:48 am   Permalink

Mr. Moto knows his brands, at least from other reviews I've read. I haven't tried most of them. I admit I haven't read the entire thread, but here's my bit, as short as verbose me can make it:
Absinthe is, of course, now legal in the Western hemisphere. Thujone content must be kept under a certain limit. BUT-- Testing has proven that thujone doesn't have the effects ascribed to it. Historical absinthe from France contained only trace amounts. The absolute junk from the Czech Republic amounts to wormwood steeped in high-proof vodka or grain alcohol; most of it is not distilled, a process essential for making real absinthe, and "absinth" (note Czech spelling) almost always tastes like turpentine. And no, it doesn't get you high, just very drunk.

History corner: When the phyloxera blight hit the French grapevines in the 1800s, absinthe took over as the most popular national beverage. When the winemakers got back on their feet, their customer base had dried up, so they petitioned the government to do something. About the same time, a French temperant also petitioned the government - and since absinthe was THE drink, he latched on. Doctors produced falsified studies which rebranded alcoholism as "absinthism", purporting that only absinthe caused these symptoms. Really, though, absinthe habituees weren't going mad because their drink was absinthe; they were drinking 8-10 glasses a day of high-proof liquor. They were going mad from abuse of alcohol. Many of these same drunkards commonly drank cologne and even ether if necessary! Low-quality producers couldn't figure out how Pernod Fils got the enchanting and magical green color, the real inspiration for the term "green fairy", which was produced by macerating the distillate in herbs, so some of them colored their products with copper chloride, and those DID drive one mad! Then, in 1905, Jean Lafray, a laborer, drank two glasses of absinthe as he did every day, murdered his pregnant wife and two daughters aged 4 and 2, and tried (and failed) to kill himself. Thus went the bans, from the "absinthe murders". The fact that his every day consumption wasn't just absinthe was forgotten - it HAD to be the absinthe. What had he drunk that day? Seven glasses of wine, six of Cognac, two of creme de menthe, one brandy and coffee, and another brandy after getting home. EVERY DAY he drank like this.

If you buy the wrong brand of absinthe, you'll get something that tastes horrible. If you buy a kit and try to make it yourself, the result is NOT absinthe, is nothing like absinthe. Czech absinthe is really all bad. Hill's, the original Czech brand and still one of the worst, started around 1980, and created a fictional backstory about having been an 1890s manufacturer. Also, based on the then-popular habit of flaming ouzo and sambuca, they drew up the so-called Czech Absinthe Ritual, a modification of the real French method, which involves sugar and fire. While, if carried only to light carmelization, this method can be tasty with the right product, it isn't historically-accurate.

How to properly prepare French absinthe: Start with a proper glass, an absinthe spoon, sugar cubes, an absinthe fountain, and... Okay, you don't have some of those? You can get glasses at BevMo if you're in California, or online. Same for the spoons and fountain. But you CAN do without. Get a highball glass or water tumbler, and either a long-tined fork or, if you really are in a pinch, a tea-ball with a handle. Find a pitcher of some sort, and make sure you can pour an extremely thin, fine stream from it without water dribbling down the pitcher and off the base. Pour about 3/4 shot of absinthe into the glass; the purpose-made glasses have a bulge in the bottom that indicates the 'dose'. Put one or two sugar cubes on the absinthe spoon, fork, or in the tea-ball and balance it across the glass - do NOT let the sugar cube(s) fall in whole. Now, pour ice-cold, filtered water over the sugar cube(s), as slowly as possible, drop by drop if you can, and watch the magic happen; it is this ritualized, almost alchemical preparation that drew devotees. As the water dilutes the absinthe, watch the louche ("loosh"), which in a good product should eventually change transparent peridot green into an opalescent, almost iridescent, milky green-white. You want approximately a 4 or 5 to 1 water-to-absinthe ratio, and you want to do it slowly because various essential oils of the many herbs used in the distillation will precipitate out at various precise dilution levels. An absinthe fountain holds water and ice, and has a tap or spout with a key valve that can let water out drop-by-drop, leaving you free to drop down to eye level with the liquid and watch the loushe; you can bet French cafes were filled with men crouched down like this, eyeing the liquid as if their lives depended on it - it really is enchanting to watch. And if they saw others doing this and felt daunted, some ritzy cafes even had an Absinthe Professor on staff who, for a small fee, could school the customer in the exacting science and fine art of preparing absinthe! Gets your imagination going, doesn't it?

I don't have my fountain yet, but I'm slowly stocking up on other appropriate accoutrements. I have a few spoons, two proper "Pontarlier" type glasses, and I have a footed glass bowl for sugar, a conical footed tumbler for spoons, and an embossed goblet for my own serving, all made from fluorescent yellow-green "vaseline" (uranium oxide) glass. If you're in California, beautiful embossed goblets in two sizes made of uranium glass can be purchased at Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo - they sell many colors of their signature goblet, but the ones you want are transparent day-glo "Hi-Liter marker" yellow-green. They're not traditional absinthe glasses, but they look amazing and will shine brightly under a blacklight, as will all vaseline glass. And yes, it's safe, though not for long-term liquor storage; serving drinks in them is just fine.
~ TorchGuy

P.S. There's a brand in the US called Le Tourment Vert (translation: The Green Torment). Not sure if Mr. Moto mentioned it, but it's getting heavy pushing to bars. It can be seen on the left in Bigbrotiki's photo, and it's in a really beautiful bottle with a fairy, faces and a devil cleverly worked into the etching. It is, like the abominable Hill's, artificially-colored a bright Scope-like blue-green. Le Tourment Vert is, in my opinion, the world's only aftershave-flavored liqueur; it smells like Aqua Velva, tastes vile (good absinthe should be able to be tasted neat without the drinker making a "Mr. Yuk" face, in my opinion) and has zero louche. In short, maybe it has some sort of use to someone, but absinthe it isn't. Don't get sucked in, please don't buy it.

Mr. Moto, any experience with the Marilyn Manson absinthe, Mansinthe? It has so much potential to be awful and terrible junk, and yet I'm hoping it has SOME value since Tourment Vert doesn't. I haven't bought any (I tend to just grab Lucid since it tastes good, louches fairly well and is easily available in stores) and I don't really have a drive to try Mansinthe, not being much of a Marilyn Manson fan, but I figured I'd ask just the same.


 
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Mr. Moto
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 08, 2010
Posts: 41
Posted: 2010-11-11 5:40 pm   Permalink

Nice post, Torch Guy. I agree with pretty much everything in it. Except maybe the notion that the Czech method of preparation (dousing the sugar cube with absinthe and lighting it on fire before stirring the whole blackened, gooey mess into your absinthe with some water) is ever called for. I've seen it done many times and have (unfortunately) sipped the results on several occasions and I can unequivocally state that it has never, ever improved the drink for me. In fact, it basically ruins any authentic absinthe. (Not hard to understand--can you imagine the flavor of burnt sugar improving any drink?) It is basically a dog and pony show invented to draw attention away from the fact that Czech "absinth" doesn't louche. Admittedly, the flame is very pretty to look at, but the results are dire indeed. Friends don't let friends burn absinthe.

Regarding the question about Mansinthe. Marilyn Manson isn't one of my favorite artists either, but I can attest to the fact that--hype aside--the absinthe he commissioned from the Matter distillery in Switzerland is actually pretty good. It has a nice, traditional flavor profile. A little thin and hot with a heavy hand on the anise, but balanced by a nice refreshing wormwood bitterness. *Worlds* better than Le Tourment Verte, which as Torch Guy points out, isn't really absinthe at all. It compares favorably with Lucid as a good introductory absinthe.

[ This Message was edited by: Mr. Moto 2010-11-11 17:42 ]


 
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CincyTikiCraig
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Joined: Mar 31, 2009
Posts: 368
From: Cincinnati, Ohio USA
Posted: 2010-11-11 6:24 pm   Permalink

Great post Torchguy, very informative!

 
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swizzle
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 03, 2007
Posts: 878
From: Melbourne,Australia
Posted: 2010-11-11 11:46 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2010-11-11 06:48, TorchGuy wrote:
Really, though, absinthe habituees weren't going mad because their drink was absinthe; they were drinking 8-10 glasses a day of high-proof liquor. They were going mad from abuse of alcohol. Many of these same drunkards commonly drank cologne and even ether if necessary! Then, in 1905, Jean Lafray, a laborer, drank two glasses of absinthe as he did every day, murdered his pregnant wife and two daughters aged 4 and 2, and tried (and failed) to kill himself. Thus went the bans, from the "absinthe murders". The fact that his every day consumption wasn't just absinthe was forgotten - it HAD to be the absinthe. What had he drunk that day? Seven glasses of wine, six of Cognac, two of creme de menthe, one brandy and coffee, and another brandy after getting home. EVERY DAY he drank like this.



I was very happen to read these points that TorchGuy mentioned. I've had a fascination with absinthe ever since I first read about it and its history roughly twelve or so years ago. At the time I was trying to get my local bottle shop to track some down (all to no avail) as he used to import Rip Van Winkle bourbon himself and he was the only one to have that brand in the country at the time, so I figured he should be able to find some. It wasn't until a couple of years later that I finally got to try some when my friend travelled to Europe and bought back a mini bottle for me. Guess what brand? Hills.

Having Hills being the first brand to try certainly didn't make me want to try anymore, but after reading more about absinthe I soon learned, what has already been mentioned, that Hills cant even be called true absinthe. Since then I have had the opportunity to try a few different brands (as far as I know I think absinthe actually became available here in Aus. well before it was available in the U.S. but as the market here is so small the amount of brands available are quite limited compared to what you guys must have to choose from) including Mansinthe, which I personally thought was pretty good, better than I was expecting when you think "Oh another musician releasing his own brand of alcohol".

Back to TorchGuy's comments, I found it quite amusing that it was the incident with Jean Lafray that put the final nail in the coffin for absinthe, causing its ban, not the fact that most drinkers of absinthe were also alcoholics who drank anything they could get their hands on (Van Gogh used to drink turpentine as well), and were drinking a spirit/liqueur that was generally above 60% a.b.v. amongst other things.

As Beachbum Berry mentioned in his books, once you have tried it and put aside all the hype and misconceptions, you will realise it is just another ingredient that you either like or you dont.

_________________


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TorchGuy
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Joined: Apr 24, 2008
Posts: 209
From: Renton, WA
Posted: 2010-11-12 02:42 am   Permalink

Yes, good absinthe is simply a potent, anise-heavy liqueur. And you either like it, or you don't. I find Lucid to be a good 'basic' brand; it has an acceptable louche and a good balance. Absente (a pun on "absent") was sold just before the ban was lifted, and used Southern or Petite Wormwood to circumvent the ban; post-repeal, Absente now sells the original Absente product as well as Grand Absente, which contains Grand Wormwood. Both are okay, but go light on the sugar with these, as they're fairly sweet already.

Mr. Moto, I should have clarified: A MODIFIED Czech format can be tasty, if you only let the sugar caramelize. Letting it basically turn black, per the 'proper' Czech preparation, does nothing good - yes, it's just there to draw attention away from the lack of louche. The only person I've met who tried Czech absinthe told me "It tasted like sh*t, but I got sooooo f***ing high...!" Yeah...yeah, sure you did.


 
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TorchGuy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 24, 2008
Posts: 209
From: Renton, WA
Posted: 2010-11-12 6:22 pm   Permalink

Also...

My mom called me a few months ago, told me she was off to Arizona by car and asked if she could bring me some liquor. I, naturally, accepted, and asked for St. Germain and "Lucid if it's under $60". She called me from Arizona and said "Lucid was $65, so I got this other brand. It's in a really beautiful etched bottle". Mr. Moto, you can probably guess where this is headed. I asked if it was called Le Tourment Vert; she replied in the affirmative. My heart sank. I asked if she could return it, and she told me she loved the bottle. Trying to stay at least semi-polite, I told her to buy one of the minis for the bottle. She took back the big one and brought me more St. Germain; who am I to turn down a double order of 'magic in a bottle'? I brought the Le Tourment Vert to Murray at Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle - they carry five or six brands of absinthe and I trust his mixing implicitly, so I asked him if he knew of anything to do with the stuff. He handed the bottle back, shrugged and told me, "We got this a few months ago. Tried it, hated it, sent it back". Did I mention that I trust Murray?

I wo0n't call it undrinkable; a friend in California, who usually sticks to Lucid or Kubler, bought some of this (he had just moved back to San Jose after a decade away and didn't know how to find a BevMo, or about Beltramo's) and claimed he could make it louche using--- ginger ale?? I KNOW water won't do it, because I tried some of his bottle and toyed with it a bit to see if I could force it somehow. Lucid is easy; I once put a measure of that in a big snifter he had, just as an experiment, set a sugar cube in the middle, poured a thin stream of water onto the cube and, surprisingly, got a full louche with no undissolved sugar!


 
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ErkNoLikeFire
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 07, 2010
Posts: 429
From: Michigan
Posted: 2010-11-12 10:42 pm   Permalink

Good thread! A few years ago at a festival I met some people from upstate New York that distilled their own. In trying to overcome the general bitterness the created a series of flavored concoctions. The goal wasn't to get rid of the bitter taste but to try to find something that would either tone it down or compliment it. My favorite of the 12 or so they had on hand was wasabi flavored. Still bitter but the fire of the wasabi brought out a lot of different notes. It led to a very interesting evening.

 
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MadDogMike
Grand Member (7 years)  

Joined: Mar 30, 2008
Posts: 7398
From: The Anvil of the Sun
Posted: 2010-11-13 09:43 am   Permalink

I try to keep myself educated on various subjects so I decided to look up the word "louche" and here's what I found;

Origin: 181020; < F: lit., cross-eyed; OF losche < L luscus blind in one eye
Definition: (Adjective) Disreputable or sordid in a rakish or appealing way



 
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