OK, I’ve tried a few different absinthes out of sheer curiousity. Mostly because I wanted to try some of the “real” fin de siècle (19th, not 20th) Absinthe. I was under the impression that the stuff was bitter. Although, Marie-Claude Delahaye of the Absinthe Museum in Pontarlier pointed out that most of the bitterness is distilled out of a proper absinthe. That means that the “original” bitter absinthe was the kind which was adulterated with copper sulphate.
I should note that some of the cheaper absinthes in the pre-pure food and drug days was made with things which were pretty noxious. That is something which people who claim to believe in Libertarianism and letting industry police itself should be aware. Bottom line, someone wants to get away with selling poison and there isn’t some form of regulation, they will try it.
Also, if you think you are going to hallucinate–FORGET IT. You will not have visions of Kylie Minogue as a sexy, green Tinkerbell appearing as “la fée verte”. In fact, it is really more of a bourgeois drink than the bohemian tipple that most people think of. It’s mostly the temperance crowd who wanted to make it evil, while ignoring the fact that it was probably the rot gut which was being sold (or the high alcohol level). Although, the high alcohol level is why the stuff is diluted with water.
But the real upshot of this is that I am finding that the accoutrements of absinthe are a whole lot more interesting: that is the absinthiana. I’ve always had a fixation with the spoons: not sure why. And people seem to look for the “proper” absinthe glass: the Pontarlier reservoir version tends be the “one” due to this picture. Although, one can use any type of glass for the drink.
But, I have to admit that the see-saw brouille-absinthe has got to be the neatest thing around. People like them even if they loathe absinthe.
The whole idea behind the brouille-absinthe is that the ice water needs to be added slowly for the stuff to properly louche (turn milky colour). For the uninitiated, that’s what is going on when you see a picture of someone staring at a glass of absinthe under a dripper tap. There is a ritual associated with drinking this stuff.
Anyway, You can save a lot of money by staring at this video:
I will suggest the following Resources:
- S. B. MacDonald’s Absinthe Antiques: A Collection from la Belle Epoque
- Oxygénée’s Absinthe FAQ
- Marie-Claude Delahaye’s books on absinthe, especially L’absinthe – Les cuillères
- Antique Absinthe Ware
- Why was Absinthe banned?