Absintheurs Anonymous, or, Check Out My Louche, Douche!

December 23, 2006

My bottle of absinthe finally arrived in the mail yesterday — the real deal, not the cheap, gimmicky “absinth” crap. It cost me an arm and a leg, but I can’t really complain. I got it in 9 days from France, complete with replica glass and spoon.

I chose a bottle of Lemercier Amer 72%. It’s not the highest quality stuff, but like they say, you crawl before you walk. Or, I suppose, in the case of liquor, you crawl before you walk… and then begin crawling again.

Despite the fact that I had an empty stomach and had to go to work in an hour, I ripped the box open and poured a glass. Self control has never been my forte.

lemercier0.jpg lemercier1.jpg lemercier2.jpg lemercier11.jpg lemecier10.jpg
Vive la France!

Results? Work sucked pretty bad, as would be expected after ingesting a glass of 140 proof booze (apparently, the granola bar I stuffed in my mouth before heading out didn’t do a great job of soaking anything up). Actually, I was feeling OK until my supervisor called to ask if I would come in early and take a “10 key certification test”. That’s what we call “buzz kill”. Didn’t put me in a great mood for the rest of the day.

The next night I figured I should cut my losses and really try the stuff on, considering the expense. What’s an absinthe drunk like?

Absinthe’s not going to make you trip out hawd coh nigga — after all, it’s basically just liquor with some herbs thrown into it, none of which are related to THC or any such nonsense. It does produce a different sort of drunk, though, just like tequila can produce a different drunk than whiskey or wine or beer.

Whether or not it’s the herbs, the distillation process, the tiny amount of thujone, I don’t think anybody knows. I can say that, normally, after drinking half a bottle of 140-proof liquor I would be shitfaced. One would think that I’d be singing Queen songs to my cats in tight leather pants, followed up with some premium drunk dialing and a hangover the likes of which would make Arnold Schwarzenegger cry like a woman. IT’S NOT A TUMAH!

It wasn’t really anything like that. I was intoxicated, but I could operate. It brought on the rush of alcohol, the euphoria, but without the disorientation and stupidity that so often comes with it. I drink so I don’t have to think. “First I think too much, then I drink too much” – my little motto. I was finally happy doing both last night. Now there’s motivation to attend college…

Oh, and the taste. How silly of me. The taste is really unique, definitely a lot more enjoyable than the taste of any other liquor I’ve ever had. It’s almost like a candy on the tongue, even when there’s little or no sugar added. There was also a spicey aftertaste to it, almost peppery. Combine all of that with the burning-flesh sensation of strong alcohol and you have something special. No wonder the French fell for it. My only question is how they continued to pronunciate things like Montpellier with numb tongues.

The smell. Mmm. My first whiff of absinthe was sort of like my first whiff of pussy, both of them equally exciting. Think along the lines of black licorice. I’ve never been a fan of licorice, especially not black licorice, but I do love the smell and taste of this stuff. It is truly unique.

The visuals: almost forgot the best part. Even without sugar, absinthe turns a murky white when water is added, often with a greenish hue, depending on what color the absinthe was before you added water. It’s what is known as the “louche”. My absinthe wasn’t a deep green in the first place, so I ended up with what looked like a yellow-tinted glass of watered down milk. (They also make blanche absinthes which are simply colorless — but that doesn’t sound as entertaining to me. It’s the green fairy, after all…)

The slow process of dripping water is actually part of the fun — it’s almost hypnotizing watching the curls make their way to the surface. This louche effect is caused by the oils from the plants and herbs present in absinthe, one of the things that makes it so unique. And at the end of the show, you get to drink it. That’s my kind of beverage.

It was only after more than half a bottle that I learned how to serve it properly, though, so that was a little bit of a let down, considering the price. The whole “sugar cube preparation” was a bit too sweet, and after a few drinks my stomach started to hurt. I ditched the cubes or tried cutting them in half, but that didn’t really help much. I started sipping the Lemercier straight and making wonderful faces like someone was prodding my balls with a hot poker. Burnt a little. Nope, not gonna work. After reading around I found that sugar wasn’t necessary, it’s all preference, so I decided to just try it watered down. Success.

Lesson learned. A couple of ice cubes in some water, a slow drip, and you’re good. Sit back and watch the swirls of green and yellow turn into a glass of milky white heaven.

Fun facts:

Absinthe is legal to possess in the U.S., it’s just illegal to import or brew.

– Thujone/Wormwood has absolutely no link to THC. Check it out for yourself.

It’s not likely that you’re going to cut off your beautiful little ears or paint a Starry Night. There’s a big myth that thujone, the primary active ingredient in Wormwood (which is featured in absinthe in small amounts), will get you high. This is false. Thujone is poisonous in large amounts, and that’s about it. Some people do feel effects other than a simple buzz or drunk from absinthe, but who knows from what or if it is even real. Read: “Some researchers have now hypothesised that the reputed ‘secondary effects’ of absinthe have nothing directly to do with thujone at all – if they in fact exist at all, they may be caused by the interaction of some of the other constituent herbs ( fenchone in fennel, pinocamphonethe in hyssop, and the anethole in anise, have all been shown to cause epileptiform convulsions in laboratory animals when administered in very large doses). Source.

Absinth is not Absinthe. Absinth is a gimmick liquor made in Eastern Europe, sold to gullible teenagers who think they’re going to get high from a high thujone content. It’s going to taste like shit and do nothing for you.

– Put away the Zippo, you brilliant cunt. There is nothing about the preparation of absinthe that requires an open flame. When you light sugar cubes on fire, or set the absinthe on fire like these shitheads, you’re simply jerking off the old myth that it’s going to get you high and that there’s something to be unlocked with a flame. It’s liquor. It isn’t heroin. You’re not shooting up. You’re just making 80 dollar liquor taste like burnt asshole.

– Abinsthe was banned because of a foolish doctor in the early 20th century who thought that it was was ruining French society. The wineries in France, who were noticing losses in sales thanks to absinthe, quickly agreed with his claims that the green fairy was in fact a devil, stealing men’s souls. The doctor, one Valentin Magnan, proved his point about absinthe by giving a bunch of thujone to a mouse, subsequently killing it. He then claimed that it was the thujone in absinthe that was causing all of the supposed trouble. If you want to blame someone for the insane price or the fact that it is still illegal in the US, blame that guy.

There’s some other useful info at the La Fee Vert FAQ and at the Wormwood Society. Check-check it a-one time!

2 Responses to “Absintheurs Anonymous, or, Check Out My Louche, Douche!”

  1. DBW Says:

    Why does it not surprise me that youd enjoy a nice glass of “milky white heaven”

  2. Great article of telling it like it is about this mysterious drink. And I applaud you for not setting it on fire.

    Absinthe is really starting to make a comeback thanks to movies like Interview with a Vampire, Moulin Rouge, and Van Helsing.


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