Week ten in The Year of Drinking Adventurously. Absinthe!
So I know you all will find this hard to believe, (that’s me being sarcastic) but this is not my first time dancing with The Green Fairy. Because you know how cautious I am about trying new things. Try not to laugh out loud… It’s only a recent indulgence, however. That’s because absinthe had been banned in many countries around the world since the early 20th century. In fact, it wasn’t until 2007 that a French distiller was allowed to import absinthe into the USA — the first time since 1912.
So what’s the deal with absinthe? Its main ingredients are wormwood (which gives it its bad reputation), sweet fennel and anise. The rumor that absinthe is highly addictive and psychoactive is false. Nevertheless, that myth led to the aforementioned ban in the USA and much of Europe around 1915. The unintended consequence of this action was to give absinthe a dark, sexy, mysterious allure. Tell someone they can’t have something and it becomes even more desirable than before. Finally, the myths have been debunked and absinthe is once again available for your drinking pleasure!
I know I’ve complained about the difficult time I’ve had finding some of the more exotic beverages since I started this virtual booze cruise, but absinthe was not a problem. There happens to be a distillery right here in Philly that produces a lovely product. Voila:
Vieux Carré from Philadelphia Distilling Company, the first East Coast distiller to produce absinthe. At 120 proof, this Green Fairy packs a wallop. Traditionally, the spirit is prepared for consumption by placing a sugar cube on top of a specially designed slotted spoon, which is then placed on a glass filled with a dose of absinthe. Iced water is poured or dripped over the sugar cube to slowly and evenly distribute the water into the absinthe.
I did not do this, for two reasons…. First, I kept forgetting to buy sugar cubes when I went to the store, and more importantly, I like the taste of undiluted absinthe. The anise flavor is quite pleasant, actually. And no you won’t have hallucinations. Well, maybe if you drank a really, really lot of it… But that could happen with any strong spirit. Take my word for it.
Absinthe has long been associated with Bohemian culture and thus was a popular drink among artists and writers like Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Charles Baudelaire, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, and Marcel Proust. Its connection to such legendary artistes has only added to the fascination. Absinthe possesses a mystery, mythology, and seductive appeal. I recommend it without reservation.
So drape yourself in black, draw the curtains closed and pray for rain. And while you’re dripping your absinthe over sugar cubes, reading poetry by candlelight, listen to some music that will complete your experience: The Cure – Prayers For Rain. And don’t forget to see how Lula danced with the Green Fairy!