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Green Gold

There's an article in the print edition of the New Yorker (not online) about the history of absinthe and efforts to reverse engineer it. Blowing off my experiences at Rubalad, the piece claims that only a few dozen people alive have ever drunk absinthe as it was enjoyed when it was a popular drink of the 19th century.

Flaubert: "Absinthe: an extra-violent poison: one glass and you're dead. Journalists drink it while writing their articles. Has killed more soldiers than the Bedoins."

He's joking - according to the article the crazy reputation is an accident of history, largely the fault of a moron who couldn't hold his liquor and shot his wife and kids dead. (Absinthe was blamed at trial even though he went on a wine and cognac bender after his morning absinthe and before the crimes.)

The piece is kind of PR for the fellow who makes these bottles (he says the bitter "hooch" I've tried is both illegal and historically inaccurate: bitterness is thought to signal authenticity now but reflects mistakes in distillation) and also notes that for "thousands of dollars" one can aquire preban bottles to impress your friends and get silly after dinner (worried that absinthe would worsen their shot at winning WWI, the French ciminalized production in 1915).

This was a good article; check it out if you see the March 13 issue (the journalist - as predicted above - did drink for the article, according to what I read).

BTW, posession and consumption are legal, and if you travel into the US with a bottle it may be confiscated but you won't get charged with anything.

UPDATE: Oded linked to a Wired article on the subject in October.


At 2:56 PM, Blogger Paul Boyer said...

So any ideas on where we can get our hands on some of the good stuff? or the 94 proof whiskey (In a year I understand).

At 4:10 PM, Blogger Miguel said...

The link I posted ships to the USA, according to their FAQ.

My birthday is June 21.

At 6:31 PM, Blogger joško said...

My birthday is April 14th ;)

At 6:43 PM, Blogger joško said...

I've had [fake] absinthe a few times. The first time was in March 2000 in a Prague bar. The second time was for New Years 2001 in Bakersfield. The third time was out of a flask at Burning Man in August 2005. (Trevor knows that my flask is still flavored by it.)
All times were all surely fake but of such high proof that they stung my lips and made me happy anyhow.

At 10:10 PM, Blogger Trevor said...

i thought the stuff i had in germany was real. it was not bitter but rather delicious. i really want to try some of the good stuff.


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