It would seem that absinthe is becoming more prevalent in spite its prohibited status. It is appearing on television shows from time to time and virtually every European country has removed the ban on this product. I love the common sense ruling by the Dutch two years ago that there was no proof that absinthe is more dangerous than other liquors so it should be legal. Common sense in American politics? Thomas Paine, where art thou?
In my travels in Europe I have indulged in absinthe on numerous occasions. I have also brought home absinthe for home use. I have found it to be an enjoyable drink and have yet to experience any delirium or even a viscous hangover. My absinthe experience at home includes proper perigord glasses, perforated spoons and a water fountain with four taps for proper preparation. I make certain to keep a stock of sugar cubes to entertain guests with properly served absinthe. I will not pour absinthe in a shot glass like an animal.
There are many brands of absinthe now available. The French, Czech and Spanish seem to be most prevalent in making absinthe. The Swiss and Germans are also making significant waves in the absinthe subculture. I have had experiences with absinthe from all of these countries. I have bottles of absinthe from all of these countries sitting on my shelf. The traditional absinthes will generally be green although the Swiss have a penchant for clear absinthe. The Spanish and Germans tend to be more creative. We are seeing red and blue absinthes. There are also several black absinthes which often attain the level of 160 proof. The Spanish even have a violet absinthe which I have yet to try.
My initial experience with absinthe goes back a decade to my first visit to Prague. I was wondering through the Stare Mesto drinking in pubs. I happened upon a general store which had bottles of absinthe displayed in the windows. Did anyone really think I was getting out of Prague without indulging a green fairy? I bought a small double shot bottle which I drank straight from the bottle. Little did I know my sins.
I was curious enough to try more. You haven’t truly lived until you’ve stumbled across the Charles Bridge at 3 AM on an absinthe and beer buzz with fog rolling off the Vtlala River and the statues of the saints breathing relentlessly down upon you. Other night dwellers appeared as silhouette figures as the moon shot down beams of mystical light. The Astrology Clock in the Old Town Square actually told time that night. It told me it was time to get back to the apartment and watch reruns of Baywatch dubbed into Czech.
That was the early initiation. I have learned quite a bit about proper preparation. The traditional French method is to sit a sugar cube on a perforated spoon and drip water on the sugar. As the sugar drips into the absinthe, it will make the absinthe turn cloudy. Some of the better brands will turn a yellow-ish color. The sugar gives the absinthe a nice minty, licorice type flavor. Straight absinthe can be bitter at times.
In Prague this past Spring I found a place called Absinthe Time. This establishment on Kremoncova is practically right across the street from U. Fleku, the oldest brewpub in the world. Here I learned a bit about preparing absinthe. A beautiful Vietnamese girl dressed in all green taught me both the French and Czech preparations for absinthe. The Czech preparation involves fire so I am hesitant to try it at home. She also learned me a few mixed drinks. The Three Musketeers is a concoction of absinthe, tequila and Sambuca. Surprisingly smooth, actually.
Having the water fountain is a great item. It worked well at my recent party. Some people tried the absinthe. Many merely wanted to witness the spectacle of proper preparation. The host graciously prepared absinthe for friends and crashers. The host also indulged in La Fee Parisian and Zelena Absinth Muza. The first was a French absinthe, the latter a Czech. The first was the better of the two.
My favorite absinthe so far is the King of Spirits which is made in the Czech Republic. This absinthe features a picture of Van Gogh on the label. This absinthe is very flavorful. It costs a little more but it is well worth the extra bucks. Buy it overseas rather than ordering through the internet to save some money. It is well worth it for the experienced absintheur and the apt pupil of La Fee Verte.
It will be interesting to see how the actual legal status of absinthe changes in America. It is already semi legal to possess as long as you don’t sell it or distill your own. I have actually shown bottles of absinthe to customs agents at airports who merely shrugged and sent me on my merry way. This is an interesting drink with an interesting history. More absinthe adventures and tales will be forthcoming to be sure.