On Saturday Sept 18, 2018 Brittani and I attended an Absinthe tasting at LeNell’s Beverage Boutique. It was guided by Theodore Breaux of Jade Liqueurs. Absinthe is not the mind altering drug that you have been told about, it is an herbal digestif that you should try out.
Absinthe was banned in the United States in 1912. Like so many other morality related products and activities, its bad reputation was driven by lies propagated by one set of people trying to push their belief system onto another set. In the case of absinthe, the lie was that thujone, which is found in wormwood, causes hallucinogens and generally makes people go crazy. In reality, if taken to an extreme, thujone is problematic, but for practical purposes, it is harmless. In other news, coffee can kill you (after around 50 – 100 cups).
Mr. Theodore Breaux is a chemical engineer by trade and has an interest in spirits. His scientific background perfectly set him up to get the absinthe ban repealed. When he recants the story he tells it as if it was very simple to do. He chemically analyzed historical bottles of absinthe and replicated the formula into a new product called Lucid (that was the hard part). To sell alcohol in the United States you must first have the product tested for safety then the label approved. Therefore, Mr. Breaux sent his spirit to be analyzed by the TTB. Since it follows the same chemical and safety parameters of other alcohols, it was approved. Next Mr. Breaux sent his label in for approval and it was rejected due to having the word “absinthe” on it. In his appeal of that decision, Breaux simply asked the TTB to explain what is absinthe and how his product matches that definition. As it turns out, there was no definition, simply a name and a concept of this dangerous product. With no definition and having already approved his product as safe, the TTB had no other recourse than to approve the label. And with that, absinthe was legalized in 2007.
To properly drink absinthe, please skip the sugar cube and especially the fire. Slowly drip ice cold water into the spirit until it turns cloudy. Keep adding water until the cloud fully encompasses the drink. This happens because some of the ingredients in the drink are not water soluble. As you move the drink from being alcohol heavy to water heavy, those ingredients re-solidify. This is also why absinthe in the bottle has a much higher alcohol content than other spirits.
The most predominate flavor in absinthe is anise (similar to black licorice). Note that green anise is used in making the product, not the black anise that you buy at the grocery store. Grand Wormwood is another key ingredient. It is a perennial plant that grows about 3 feet tall. Sweet fennel rounds out the dominate flavors of the spirit. With such bold herbal flavors, this drink is best served after a heavy dinner.