Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Product review: Absinthe



Ahhh, The Green Fairy, Absinthe. The drink of choice of yr. better romantic poets and impressionist painters (Van Gogh was notably a fan, as well as Oscar Wilde and Aleister Crowley), Absinthe has been illegal pretty much forever due to its alleged (ahem ahem) hallucinogenic properties, as well as its supposed ties to "rheumatism, the gout, epilepsy" and god knows how many other things we now know are caused by anything but drinking Absinthe.

In a rare moment of clarity, the US Government has apparently seen the light and made this wondrous drink legal again, and lo and behold, the Snake Pit, my Neighborhood Bar, has seen fit to not only stock it but feature it. Miss Cody had already sung its praises from the streets of Olde New Orleans, so Trix and I figured we'd be the bold experimenters last night.

Pretty much the entire bar was afraid to try the stuff, so they all sat and watched us, expecting us to start screaming that the bats were coming for us, but that didn't happen. The bartenders did it right -- dropping water from a rather Victorian-looking contraption through a sugar cube to turn the concoction cloudy. We downed the black-licorice-tasting beverage quickly (because, y'know, who the hell likes black licorice?) -- then another -- then waited for the effect.

Wikipedia would have you believe that the hallucinogenic properties are nonexistent, and I can tell you that is not the case, though they have no doubt been exaggerated by legend and lore -- neither of us had any desire to cut our ear off and mail it to an old flame, that's for sure. However: it is definitely different than the effects of plain old alcohol. We were both consumed by what we could only describe as a profound "warm, tingly" sensation. We were definitely more lucid than if we'd pounded, say, two shots of fine aged Scotch, which was intriguing -- intoxication with a modicum of lucidity. And yes, there were definitely visual effects -- not like the full-blown hallucinogenic effects of LSD, say, but a very intriguing sparkle over everything.

We had what I would describe as a "reasonable" amount of the stuff -- I'm intrigued to see what would happen if we pounded, say, four shots of it or something, whether the effects would be heightened or whether we'd just get drunk and pass out. Hm.

14 comments:

Max "Bunny" Sparber said...

Yeah, rumors of Absinthe's magical properties are greatly exaggerated. But it is pretty alcoholic, and so packs quite a wallop, and I've found any cocktail you drink afterwards will be equally potent, so it really is a drink for roaring drunks.

It's also a great cocktail ingredient. The Sazerac originally called for absinthe, and there was a drink called the Absinthe Frappe that was crazy popular in the early 1900s, originating, like the Sazerac, from New Orleans. Absinthe is quite delicious when mixed into a well-made cocktail, but people seem to prefer to just louche it with water and drink it like that. I've never been impressed. You might as well just be drinking ouzo with that technique, and it actually tastes about the same.

Brash Lion said...

I LOVE black licorice.

Mimi said...

I love the fact that a large part of your relationship seems to be getting absolutely trashed in various bars.

As a Brit, I relate.

Jill said...

A few years ago a friend of mine ordered a bottle online and brought it to my pad. We drank and drank and drank some more. It was a tasty treat, but I woke up with the worst hangover...ever. Blech. Cheers!

Jon Hunt said...

Mimi: no, those are just the bits I *write* about! A large part of our relationship is actually sitting on the couch talking about the cats.

LAP said...

I love black licorice too, and between that, and a great segment on Tony Bourdain's No Reservations while he went to absinthe bars, has made me intrigued. Of course I go out so rarely that adding a sparkle to my surroundings would never hurt...

Jon Hunt said...

Laura and Courtney: you guys are NUTS for the black licorice love, but vive le difference!

Becky said...

I like black licorice, cats, drinking AND sitting on the couch talking about licorice, cats and drinking.

Chuck L said...

I like black cats. I don't like drinking.

Mimi said...

But how many bottles of JD accompany you to the sofa? You ole boozehound. I crown you and your lady friend as Honorary Brits. You must now perfect the art of puking in gutters and getting trashed by 6pm five nights a week or I'll remove the honor.

Jon Hunt said...

6 PM *your* time??

Mimi said...

umm, I'll leave that one open. But you have to leave every bar at 11.30pm (your time) and attempt to eat curry and chips on the street before bed, trying (unsuccessfully) to locate your mouth.

belsum said...

Chris mentioned your text on this subject. Heh.

And he, too, loves black licorice. I do not.

Jess said...

Do ya sing about cats as well?

I like the thought of anything sparkly or mind altering. I would overlook my hatred of all things black licorice tasting to experience the effects.

Oh and Jon. Thank you, darlin!