Absinthe. The Green Fairy. The stuff of literary legends. Seemingly impossibly high amounts of alcohol by volume. Supposed psychoactive properties, allegedly from the presence of trace amounts of thujone in the distilled spirit, got absinthe effectively banned in the United States from 1915 to 2007. The spirit remains steeped in mystery, with a flavor that’s hard to describe but sought-after by mixologists in fine cocktail bars and at home. So what is really going on with absinthe?
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- The basics of what absinthe is (and isn’t)
- A little bit about how to enjoy the spirit properly
- Cocktail recipes using absinthe
- A little about the spirit’s revival, including some brands
Absinthe in Literature:
“After the first glass of absinthe you see things as you wish they were. After the second you see them as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world. I mean disassociated. Take a top hat. You think you see it as it really is. But you don’t because you associate it with other things and ideas.If you had never heard of one before, and suddenly saw it alone, you’d be frightened, or you’d laugh. That is the effect absinthe has, and that is why it drives men mad. Three nights I sat up all night drinking absinthe, and thinking that I was singularly clear-headed and sane. The waiter came in and began watering the sawdust.The most wonderful flowers, tulips, lilies and roses, sprang up, and made a garden in the cafe. “Don’t you see them?” I said to him. “Mais non, monsieur, il n’y a rien.” —Ada Leverson (often misattributed to Oscar Wilde)
“Absinthe cures everything.” —Ernest Hemingway
How To Prepare Absinthe from Absinthe 101: Although absinthe is known for being high alcohol-by-volume, when enjoying properly (outside of using it as a rinse, as with a Sazerac), you need to water it down. To stave off green fairies, of course.
The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock: As Jordan mentions in the episode, The Savory Cocktail Book has a number of recipes involving absinthe, including the Corpse Reviver No. 2, which Harry Craddock is often credited with creating.