Thanks to Addie Broyles of the Statesman, I was able to attend an absinthe tasting at Peche, a hip little bar and restaurant in downtown Austin. I had never had absinthe before – it only recently became legal in the United States, and the only other place I’ve seen it is in giant bottles at the liquor store – but I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
What gets you with absinthe is the alcohol content, and the fact that it doesn’t taste super alcoholic. Assuming you like anise flavor, it is smooth to drink and you don’t notice the 130 proof.
Absinthe gets its name from the wormwood – its scientific name is Artemisia absinthium – and thankfully not from the modern-day inventor, Pierre Ordinaire. Although that might have avoided a bunch of those rumors if it had been.
Our tasting began with a Death in the Afternoon, a cocktail Earnest Hemingway invented and named after his nonfiction book. It consists of absinthe (we had Kubler) mixed with champagne. According to rumor, Hemingway drank 5 or 6 of these a day.
Everyone should have absinthe once in their life. Here’s a few more things to know:
Absinthe is photosensitive, so it shouldn’t be stored in clear bottles (it will turn brown). If you see green absinthe in a clear bottle, it’s probably made in the Czech Republic, is tinted with artificial color, and isn’t considered authentic. Clear (blanche or bleu) absinthe is made in the Swiss style, bottled immediately after distilling. Green (verte) absinthe is when a new batch of herbs is added to the distillate, resulting in a natural green color.
Don’t try absinthe kits. Now that absinthe is legal in the U.S., there’s no need to try your hand at creating an inferior product. Not to mention the potential dangers. If you’re looking for a brand to try, I definitely recommend the Pernod.
Have you tried absinthe? What do you think?