Due to its legendary reputation and a certain aura of mystique around it, absinthe is still considered somewhat of a mystery. So, what is absinthe? This is a question asked by many people who have little or no knowledge of fine liquors. Well, absinthe is the legendary liquor made popular by the likes of Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemmingway, and Oscar Wilde just to name a few.
This legendary liquor started out as a digestive tonic after a French doctor Dr. Pierre Ordinaire discovered its magical properties in the late eighteenth century. Absinthe was then prescribed to treat various stomach ailments. However, soon after it became the most popular alcoholic beverage in Europe. It was common to see people drinking this liquor in the cafés and bars of Paris and other European cities in the nineteenth century. Absinthe was considered as a creative stimulant by many great artists, authors and other creative people.
Absinthe is anise flavored liquor with high alcohol content. It is prepared by distilling neutral grain spirit or wine with different herbs such as wormwood, anise, fennel, angelica root, dittany leaves, hyssop, juniper, nutmeg, Melissa, veronica and coriander. Absinthe liquor may be colorless or have a bright green hue. The green color is due to the presence of chlorophyll from herbs such as hyssop and Melissa.
Absinthe has a very bitter taste and is usually taken with sugar and ice-cold water. The bitter taste is due to absinthine a substance found in wormwood. The alcohol content is generally between 50% and 75%. When at its peak, absinthe rivaled wine in popularity. Thujone, a chemical present in the herb wormwood, is the active ingredient in absinthe However, due to its mild hallucinogenic effects, misinformation and unsubstantiated rumors were spread by vested interests from the wine industry. This had the desired effect and absinthe was ultimately banned by most western countries at the beginning of the twentieth century.
In the last decade of the twentieth century new research proved that absinthe did not contain abnormal levels of hallucinogenic substances. Absinthe was once again legalized and since then has made a terrific comeback in most European countries. Absinthe production and sale continues to be banned in the United States; however, drinking and possession of absinthe is not considered as a crime. Absinthe is not drunk like other everyday spirits such as whiskey or rum; an elaborate ritual is followed to prepare the absinthe drink. Special absinthe glasses, absinthe fountains, absinthe bottles, absinthe spoons, sugar cubes, and ice-cold water are a part of the classic absinthe ritual.
In the classic French ritual absinthe is poured in a special absinthe glass and a special absinthe slotted spoon is place over the rim of the glass. A sugar cube is placed over the spoon and ice-cold water is poured over the spoon from an absinthe fountain. As the sugar cube dissolves in the water it falls through the perforations into the glass. The clear green absinthe in the glass turns opaque due to the louche effect as essential oils in the liquor are released. Ice-cold water is added to dilute the absinthe and the drink is then ready.
Since absinthe is still outlawed in the United States, US citizens are denied the pleasure of authentic absinthe. US citizens can source absinthe essence and absinthe kits from European producers and make their very own absinthe liquor. Genuine absinthe essence is mixed in neutral spirits such as vodka to prepare absinthe liquor.
Absinthekit.com is one place where you can get genuine absinthe essence, absinthe kits, and other absinthe accessories.