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Tiki Central Forums » » Tiki Drinks and Food » » Absinthe... discuss.
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Absinthe... discuss.
TikiJosh
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 01, 2005
Posts: 735
Posted: 2005-09-14 11:34 pm   Permalink

I know a little about this topic. The laws in the US state that absinthe, in its proper form (made with wormwood), is illegal to sell or import. It may not be illegal to own, but that's why local liquor stores around here, including HiTime, carry the Pernod/pastis substitutes instead. The chemical thujone, which is present in wormwood is actually, if I remember my chemistry correctly, a neurotoxin, hence the strict laws about importation.
Supposedly, in properly distilled, high-end absinthe, the impurities such as thujone should be removed or only be present in very small amounts, but I'm sure the cheaper stuff could be relatively dangerous. I'm not sure how much it would take to actually cause serious harm, but as a fun trivia fact/urban legend here's a case in point: Vincent van Gogh was supposedly drunk/under the influence when he whacked off his ear. It may be that thujone works under a cumulative effect, and gets worse the longer you've been exposed to it. Makes sense to me. In any case, I think I'd rather not have chemicals in my drinks that might lead me to sever body parts. Fortunately, I've never had a MaiTai that made cutting off my ear seem like a good idea. Thank God there's no wormwood involved in producing rum.
But I digress. I've actually tried a brand called Absente, which is supposed to be more or less the same thing as real absinthe but without the wormwood. It's about $40 a bottle, which is still pretty steep. At least I think so. I actually like this stuff because it starts out with a green crystal color, and when you add the sugar water to it, it becomes opalescent like real absinthe should. You're supposed to put a sugar cube on a slotted spoon and pour cold water over the sugar to dissolve it, and the sugar water runs into the glass with the absinthe. Stir, and voila, your drink is no longer green. Plus it doesn't taste quite as bad. Most of these things are a little too bitter if you drink them straight, but again that's just my opinion.
I've actually tried another brand, I think that was called Pernod, in Paris, and it tasted pretty much the same as the Absente, but without the nifty color. This stuff was more grey. But hey, it's what they had at the bar on the Eiffel Tower. I had to drink something, and I wasn't sure I could communicate how to make a Mai Tai.
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PiPhiRho
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 1016
From: Redondo Beach
Posted: 2005-09-15 12:00 am   Permalink

Absente, according to the information that comes with the bottle, is made from a different variety of wormwood that does not have the same levels of thujone as the more commonly used variety. it also uses less wormwood and more anise so that it is kind of a absinthe/pastis hybrid. Absente does contain thujone, but in levels low enough to be within legal limits. It tastes more like absinthe than pernod or herbsainte (pastis) but less bitter and more licorice-y than real absinthe.



 
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hanford_lemoore
Proprietor

Joined: Mar 23, 2002
Posts: 1870
From: Tiki Central
Posted: 2005-09-15 12:04 am   Permalink

Topics merged.

 
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Rum Numb Davey
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 17, 2005
Posts: 204
From: Phoenix, AZ
Posted: 2005-09-15 02:53 am   Permalink

Ah, Absinthe…keep away from my Precious. I have the following bottles I brought back from Europe over the last few years. I have wasted tons of money on crapsinthe, as well, experimenting so don’t be a schmuck like me. Do some research, and DON”T fall for the way overpriced internet prices.
I have listed my current inventory by preference.
Nouvelle-Orléans (Fr)
Edouard 72 (Fr)
La Fée (Fr)
Cami Toulouse Lautrec (Cz)
La Bleue (Suisse)
Mari Mayans (Sp)
Tunel (Sp)
Extase (Portugal)
Sebor Absinth (Cz)
Hill's (Cz)
Absinth King (Cz)

I always stash my absinthe in my wine samples I bring back with me, and luckily I have never had a problem. US Customs will seize the bottles, and you’ll get the dreaded flag on future International travel. I met Ted Breaux when I was at Vinexpo last year, and he is the true absinthe master. He was an excellent source of advice on what and where to purchase. If anyone wants the address to order pure wormwood extract, please pm me and I will give it to you. A couple drops in some Pastis makes a nice substitute.
L'absinthe vous fait un dieu

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Just finished a bottle of Havana Club Anejo 3 Anos, which was excellantly suited for many rum cocktails!


 
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Tiki Flange
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 27, 2003
Posts: 148
From: Chicago NW Suburbs
Posted: 2005-09-15 09:57 am   Permalink

Interesting that this topic should come up again, I got my two bottles of Absinth King of Spirits Gold yesterday. I took a sip to try it and it was bitter. I'm waiting for the right time to really try it out.

Davey, how much should this stuff have cost me? The cheapest I found was $150 per bottle shipped from Cz.


 
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Tikiwahine
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3288
From: Victoria, BC
Posted: 2005-09-15 11:01 am   Permalink

"Gogh's 'insanity,' long assumed to be schizophrenia, was in fact a psychological disorder resulting from a form of epilepsy."

Drinking too much of any alcohol will make you do crazy things. The banning of Absinthe is total propaganda in my opinion. It's a herb, man.

Just a little hint, don't be drinking it straight. Either put it in a mixed drink or do the proper 'louching' technique with the water and sugar. It really does need to be cut down to be palatable. And besides, you'll be able to drink more of it that way!

If you do drink it straight, you deserve a hearty 'hardcore!!' from me.

Up here it sells for between $65 and $100 CAD depending on the brand. 'Absente' is also available, but who would want that garbage when you can get the real thing(ok, so it is a little cheaper)
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Rum Numb Davey
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 17, 2005
Posts: 204
From: Phoenix, AZ
Posted: 2005-09-15 11:10 am   Permalink

In my opinion, you should pay 30 to 80 euros. Shipping is excessive however. I have to take four trips to Europe per year in the wine trade. I just pick up a new bottle or two while I am there each time. I realize that other people don't have that option realistically.
Some of the prices on the web are just scandalous. Making a hundred bucks for facilitating a bottle online seems to be a rip-off. By the way, there are many fantastic pastis brands besides Absente, and spiking with wormwood/thunjone extract can be a poorman's substitute. Do not worry if you have a drug test scrutinized job which requires urine sampling. Thunjone or properly alpha-thujone does NOT have a THC (cannabinoid) structure and will not trip a positive. I know the urban legend.
A-Thunjone has a similar molecular structure to menthol, a-pinene, eucalyptol, camphor and other monoterpenes. A-Thunjone is now known to modulate only an entirely different receptor site, the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) system. GABA moderates the firing of neural synapses; a-thujone mildly antagonizes such inhibition. Strangely, when I drink one or two louches, I feel alert and highly in tuned although buzzed. One night, we drank five louches with some heavy drinking Czech friends. Admittedly, we also drank many shots of Becherovka. After we retired Kim and I argued very much, and with much more intensity and emotion than what is normal. She won't drink Absinthe with me anymore. I believe you should respect the power of this spirit, and moderate your imbibbing.

Before the Revolution, the per capita consumption of RUM in the Colonies was 3.7 gallons PER person. We have become a Neo-temperant nation of wimps and quitters! We must rise, Tiki Nation, and raise our ceramic mugs in resistance to teatotaling!

[ This Message was edited by: Rum Numb Davey 2005-09-15 11:33 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Rum Numb Davey 2005-09-16 00:25 ]


 
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TikiJosh
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 01, 2005
Posts: 735
Posted: 2005-09-15 11:03 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2005-09-15 11:10, Rum Numb Davey wrote:
In my opinion, you should pay 30 to 80 euros. Shipping is excessive however. I have to take four trips to Europe per year in the wine trade. I just pick up a new bottle or two while I am there each time. I realize that other people don't have that option realistically.
Some of the prices on the web are just scandalous. Making a hundred bucks for facilitating a bottle online seems to be a rip-off. By the way, there are many fantastic pastis brands besides Absente, and spiking with wormwood/thunjone extract can be a poorman's substitute. Do not worry if you have a drug test scrutinized job which requires urine sampling. Thunjone or properly alpha-thujone is NOT have a THC (cannabinoid) structure and will not trip a positive.
A-Thunjone has a similar molecular structure to menthol, a-pinene, eucalyptol, camphor and other monoterpenes. A-Thunjone is now known to modulate only an entirely different receptor site, the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) system. GABA moderates the firing of neural synapses; a-thujone mildly antagonizes such inhibition. Strangely, when I drink one or two louches, I feel alert and highly in tuned although buzzed. One night, we drank five louches with some heavy drinking Czech friends. Admittedly, we also drank many shots of Becherovka. After we retired Kim and I argued very much, and with much more intensity and emotion than what is normal. She won't drink Absinthe with me anymore. I believe you should respect the power of this spirit, and moderate your imbibbing.

Before the Revolution, the per capita consumption of RUM in the Colonies was 3.7 gallons PER person. We have become a Neo-temperant nation of wimps and quitters! We must rise, Tiki Nation, and raise our ceramic mugs in resistance to teatotaling!

[ This Message was edited by: Rum Numb Davey 2005-09-15 11:33 ]


That's a damn good story!
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captnkirk
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 06, 2002
Posts: 322
From: Hockessin, Delaware
Posted: 2005-09-19 3:19 pm   Permalink

First off there are a few misconseptions floating around that need to be cleared up. Thujone (a-thujone) is not a neurotoxin, it is not illegal or even very harmful. In fact a box of stove top stuffing contains more thujone than an entire bottle of pre-ban absinthe. If it was a harmful substance, sage and other herbs that contain it would be illegal too.

Products containing wormwood are illegal to make or bring into the USA because it is a prohibited food additive by the FDA. Several medicines are allowed to contain it by the FDA because it has not been proven harmful in them, so it was allowed.

The rumors that absinthe was harmful originated over one hundred years ago with lies and yellow journalism and has since been disproven by modern science.
Like most conspiracys it was the result of many forces coming up against it and all strengthening each others assults:
1) Anti-semitism (most of the producers were owned by Jews)
2) the French wine industry (after a phyloxera devestated production, French wine was back, but its market had been taken by absinthe)
3) Additives in some brands were harmful (like antimony trichloride and copper salts were added to cheaper brands to allow them to have the color and clouding ability of more expensive brands)
4) Alcoholism (all symtoms of absinthism are also symptoms of chronic alcohol abuse) absinthe was the cheapest alcohol on the market so it was also the most abused (like gin was in England at the same time). It got blamed for everything.
5) Worldwide prohibition movements Blue cross and other prohibitionists campained relentlessly againt absinthe. Unlike the United States which banned all forms of alcohol around this time, the French and Swiss tossed absinthe like a sandbag from the balloon which was crashing and probably saved all other forms of drink by doing so.
6) Around the time WWI started, people belived if you drank too much the damage you did could be passed forward genetically and in the near future the country would contain only weakened children who sat around in the gutter all day and vomiting just like their fathers. When recruiters reported a larger percentage of the population were not suitable for military service than previous wars, they blamed absinthe for that too.
7) The so called absinthe murder. A swiss drunk shot his wife and children to death with a high powered rifle so the press and everyone blamed absinthe. Only problem was this man was a violent drunk before he ever tasted absinthe. On the day of the murder only two of the sixteen or twenty drinks he consumed even had absinthe in them.

So in some countries it was banned, in others it never has been. Recently Switzerland proclaimed there was never any scientifically verifible reason to have banned it, and it is being legally produced in France again.

Enlightenment wins over ignorance, sometimes it just takes a hundred years or so.

[ This Message was edited by: captnkirk 2005-10-30 16:49 ]


 
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Rum Numb Davey
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 17, 2005
Posts: 204
From: Phoenix, AZ
Posted: 2005-09-19 5:21 pm   Permalink

Cool post, Capnkirk...thanks for bringing your science background to the arguement. Ted Breaux told me it would take thujone equivilant of 100 bottle of modern absinthe for a lethal dose. He should know, he is the man in France.
Look if it was logic and reason behind laws, Cuba would be a wide open trading partner with us and my bar would be stocked with Havana Club Anejo constantly, and my humidoer with Cohiba Siglo V.
Some Swiss blue collar drunk went bizerk on an absinthe fueled rage and brutally killed his wife and children in 1908, and it caused a scandal and reactionary ban as a result. The legal status by Nation below.

Australia
Absinthe containing Thujone at around 7.8 mg per litre and 60% alcohol is scarce but legal and available in Australia. [

E.U.
EU rules allow beverages to contain 5 mg/kg thujone in beverages with less than 25% alcohol, 10 mg/kg in beverages with more than 25% alcohol and 35 mg/kg in bitters.

Canada
Thujone containing absinthe is available legally in 3 provinces (Ontario & Quebec allow 10ppm thujone, BC has no limit). All other provinces have laws against thujone containing absinthe.

Czech Republic
Absinthe is legal and common in the Czech Republic. Thujone containing absinthe is available in stores.

France
The sale of Absinthe has been prohibited in France since March 16, 1915. In 1988, a law was passed which specified that the 1915 law only applied to products that do not comply with European Union regulations on thujone content and products which explicitly call themselves "absinthe". Thujone containing beverages are now available, often labelled as "spiritueux à base de plantes d'absinthe." Higher thujone content absinthes are also produced in France for export.

Germany
Thujone-containing absinthe available at bars and stores in Germany, in 2002 it is quite popular in some parts of Germany and Austria.

Hungary
We have been told that Absinthe became legally available in Hungary in early 2004 but that quality and potency is generally low.

Israel
Absinthe sold in some liquor stores in 2004.

Italy
Absinthe sold in some smartshops.

Malta
Absinthe is available in bars and clubs.

Netherlands
1909 ban on absinthe sales lifted Jul 2004. Thujone-containing absinthe sold in liquor stores, as long as thujone quantity remain within European-accepted levels.

New Zealand
Absinthe sold in liquor stores. Hell, you can distill your own liquor in NZ!

Norway
We are told that absinthe is legal in Norway and available in liquor stores but only with low thujone content.

Portugal
Thujone containing absinthe sold in liquor stores, bars, clubs, and supermarkets.

Russia
Absinthe (with as much as 50-75 mg thujone) available, mostly in stores geared towards foreigners.

South Africa
Absinthe is being legalised in South Africa, effective January 1, 2005.

Spain
Absinthe widely available.

Sweden
Absinthe sold in all liquor stores marked as containing wormwood extract:
"In Sweden absinthe can be bought in all liquor stores (Pere Kermann's Absinthe, made in France). And the way it works in the EU is that if a product is legal in one country it is automaticaly legal in all EU countries.

It says on the front label "Spiriteux aux extraits de plantes d'absinthe" and on the back label " ingredients: alcohol, water, aroma, wormwood infusion, sugar, colouring: E131-E102. It is sold as containing thujone."

In June, 2004, the Swiss parliament voted to end a 96-year ban on absinthe. Although absinthe had been available in most of Europe for 20 years, it had remained outlawed in Switzerland until June 14, 2004.

United Kingdom
Thujone-containing absinthe sold in some stores (liquor stores, Tesco, Harrods) and small number of pubs, as long as thujone quantity remains within European-accepted levels. Absinthe was never banned in the UK, as the market for it ended with the banning of French exports and the belt-tightening during and after the first world war.

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Just finished a bottle of Havana Club Anejo 3 Anos, which was excellantly suited for many rum cocktails!


 
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Tonnikan Jinn
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 28, 2004
Posts: 143
From: La Conchita
Posted: 2005-09-20 12:42 am   Permalink

I thought that it was available in Mexico too.

Is this another myth?

I don't see myself getting to Europe any time soon, and Canada is a bit of a stretch, but Mexice is a better possibility because I live in So. Cal.

-T.J.

P.S. I am also dying to get my hands on some good Cuban rum, so Mexico or Canada it is. Unless there were a cheap mail order alternative for rum and absinthe.


 
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Rum Numb Davey
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 17, 2005
Posts: 204
From: Phoenix, AZ
Posted: 2005-09-20 02:26 am   Permalink

TJ: I live close to Mexico too. The problem with finding Havana Rum and Absinthe in border towns in Mexico is slim to none.
If you go to Mexico City..your chances are 100%. Juarez, Nogales, Mexicali, and Tijuana are lame when it comes to liquor shopping. The taxes are just flat out extreme, and unless the retailers sell a lot of product, they will not stock it. Most Americans down there that buy booze are not discriminating enough for unique or high end liquor.
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Just finished a bottle of Havana Club Anejo 3 Anos, which was excellantly suited for many rum cocktails!


 
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twowheelin'tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 28, 2002
Posts: 712
From: santa monica
Posted: 2005-09-20 8:37 pm   Permalink

I still want to get opinions on the strongest , best absinthe out there, and where to get it. I have been looking at absinthe 24 and the selection is so big, I am confused!. I know some of the snobby types say ONLY french will do, but I want the same or better buzz that I got with trull 1792, YIKES!!. that was neat, but before I lay a hundred bucks down, I want your opinions. Thanks. TWT

 
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captnkirk
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 06, 2002
Posts: 322
From: Hockessin, Delaware
Posted: 2005-09-21 2:49 pm   Permalink

One of the first and very best absinthe sites out there is called "La Fee Verte". Anyway the site has the who's who of the absinthe producers and conosours on it. Their buyers guide is the bible for selecting something good.

http://www.feeverte.net/guide/idx.html

If you want a good traditional tasting absinthe you want something made using distillation, (not maceration or soaking herbs, and not from extracts) then just select a brand with the highest rating number you can afford and it will be the best absinthe you can get. The site tells you how to order it, and everthing else you need to know.

Check out their main page too, the content is excellent.

Their Forum discussions are intresting and a few tiki topics have been posted there from time to time. In fact I once saw a thread once where the name for the "Taboo Cove" tiki bar was suggested, because the creative force behind it was an absinthe enthusiast as well as a tikiphile and was looking for names.

[ This Message was edited by: captnkirk 2005-09-21 21:06 ]


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Chrisc
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Dec 01, 2004
Posts: 65
From: UK
Posted: 2005-10-03 06:46 am   Permalink

Some thoughts on absinthe.....

About 15 years ago, before the modern "reappearance" of "absinthe", I heard that absinthe was still legal in Spain and Portugal, and that it was made in Lisbon by the Pernod family. Having a holiday planned in Spain, I sent a letter to British Customs and Excise asking if it was all right for me to import some for personal use. They replied that I could import a small quantity for personal use. In the event, I didn't find any in the very rural part of Spain I was visiting. However, I also read that there was only ever a trace of thujone in Absinthe, and a lot of alcohol... the alcohol will always kick in long before the thujone has any discernable psychoactive effect.
Furthermore, Pernod, which as we all know, was introduced as an alternative to absinthe, goes cloudy when you mix it with water... as the original absinthe used to, but which the modern green concoctions do not. I once bought a bottle of a French brand of "absinthe", and discovered when I got it home that the label said in small letters, after a short history of the original Absinthe, something to the effect that this was an "absinthe-style liquer", that "evoked the spirit of the original absinthe".... in other words, it was not in itself Absinthe.
Now, if the Pernod family does continue to produce Absinthe in Portugal, that may well be true Absinthe...otherwise, for an authentic flavour in your cocktails, you might be better off with pernod, which also has the virtue of being cheaper. I think I've seen a recipe somewhere for a Monkey Gland cocktail, so I'll look it up and post it.

CHRIS.


 
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