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Absinthe, per The Gentleman's Compani...

Sepulchritude Forum » The Absinthe Forum Archive thru January 2003 » Strictly Absinthe & Collectibles » Absinthe, per The Gentleman's Companion « Previous Next »

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Traineraz
Posted on Saturday, November 30, 2002 - 5:50 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

It indeed IS fun to poke through, chock full of colorful tales, with occasional recipes (or, as Mr. Baker calls them, "receipts") scattered hither and yon.
Petermarc
Posted on Saturday, November 30, 2002 - 5:30 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

nice find! thanks for sharing...
Crosby
Posted on Saturday, November 30, 2002 - 2:44 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

It sounds like a fun book to poke through. Alibris.com has lots of copies available.
Traineraz
Posted on Saturday, November 30, 2002 - 1:14 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I saw the two-volume set, "The Gentleman's Companion," by Charles H. Baker, Jr., while browing the cookbook section at the local used book store. I was surprised to see how highly absinthe figured in this 1939/1946 ed. text . . . and, since it's most colorfully written and includes all manner of EXOTIC recipes, I just HAD to have it. I figured some of you might enjoy seeing what Mr. Baker had to say on the subject!

In Volume II, "Being an Exotic Drinking Book, or, Around the World with Jigger, Beaker and Flask," page 7 begins the "Company of 200 & 67 Assorted Potations from Amateur & Professional Hosts about the World" with:

"AN ABSINTHE COCKTAIL, as Mixed for Us by an Itinerant Russian Prince on the Occasion of Our Usual Morning Pilgrimage to Harry's American Bar, which Is in Paris"

[insert background story here]

Absinthe, 1.5 jiggers; Anis or anisette, dash; Water, .5 jigger; Sugar or gomme syrup, .5 tsp or less; Orange & Angostura bitters, dash each; White of egg, 1 tsp; and Twist of lime or lemon peel.

To be placed "in The Blender for a jiffy with finely cracked ice, straining the chilled result to avoid dilution."

Following is

"JUST a WORD on the Largely Misunderstood Subject of Absinthe in General; & Concerning an Absinthe Drip from Le Perroquet, in Saigon, French Indo China, & an Absinthe Frappe from the Heliopolis Palace, in Cairo

"Technically absinthe is a highly toxic liqueur running between 70% and 80% alcohol, with an aromatic characteristic flavour of a kind of wormwood known as Artemisia absinthium, blended with little items like angelica root, sweet flag, dittany leaves, star anise fruits, hyssop and fennel. In other words it is a strange herb-alcohol brew acting potently on the nervous ganglia. Too much can cause hallucinations; -- what we have lightly come to call D. T's. And other things not judicious to mention.

"In mixed drinks absinthe has a flavouring value all its own. Usually a very small quantity should be used, as the taste is potent and will dull many other more delicate flavours. Due to French mishandling of the liquor, and the sorry plight of her addicts, its manufacture was banned in the republic. For years the old French Quarter in New Orleans turned out a good type, and now the Swiss seem to have an inside corner on the market. Pernod is the capon near-absinthe made in France now, with much of the taste but little of the lift -- due to many simples being ruled out of the formula. Pernod is mighty good liquid though, but always use the 120-proof for crispest flavouring authority.

"THE ABSINTHE DRIP as Properly Fabricated in Saigon

"One of the charms of so many far eastern colonies is that many of the old world laws, tabus, taxes and other civilized nuisances are tossed overboard at Suez. If there is any prohibition of absinthe in Indo-Chine we failed to see it, ever . . . [insert colorful background stories and details about Saigon in the late 1930s here].

[Is this a cookbook or a journal? Both, I guess!]

"Before quitting this subject of absinthe perhaps we had better explain that taken in steady doses over a considerable period of time, it does nibble the keen edge off the brain until a man becomes a sorry sort of thing; aimless, listless, and generally -- shockingly -- lacking. This, and the habit it forms under constant usage, of course accounts for its ban in France. Actually, too, it happens to be one of the few liqueurs which more or less definitely stimulates the cavaliers riding herd about the altar of Aphrodite. [Beat THAT euphemism!!]

"An Absinthe Drip isn't one of the black arts at all; nor something confined to Maupassant, and mystery, and low and devious dives all coagulated with apaches, and their grisettes, and sitting around all hours of the night with drooping cigarettes . . .[and it goes on like this!]

". . . The cute, almost doll-like Annamese bar-man took a small thin tumbler, nearly the size and shape of our Old Fashioned Cocktail glass. This he centered up with 2 cubes of sterilized ice, a lump of loaf sugar. Onto this he turned a jigger of absinthe. A tiny pitcher of cold water was supplied, this to be poured in 1 drop at a time, or at guest option, ladled in with a small teaspoon . . . Under this routine the pearly, almost opalescent, sheen of the absinthe is even more apparent than in the Frappe; also its potency.

"AN ABSINTHE FRAPPE from Heliopolis Palace, Cairo, in 1931

"Here is one of the most bizarre and startling hotels in all the world . . . This drink was mixed in small silver cocktail shakers holding enough for 2 guests; fetched to table with chilled glasses of champagne saucer type . . . Merely turn 2 glasses of finely cracked ice into a chilled small shaker, add two 2-oz jiggers of absinthe and 1 tsp anis del mono, or French anisette. Shake quickly and hard. Pour out, ice and all; and a short straw, bright green in hue, is the final touch. This again produces a pearly white fluid at odds with the greenish liquid in bottle."

[Now we move on to the index, where we also find on page 83:]

ABSINTHE PHOSPHATE

"There is no doubt about this one working . . . Simply put two dashes of lemon phosphate in a bar glass, add a jigger absinthe and a pony of Italian vermouth. Stir for a moment and pour into a claret glass filled with finely cracked or shaved ice. Vermouth can easily be cut down slightly to taste."

[Sounds like a Thujone Bomb Lemon Fizz to me!]

Finally, in the "glossary," for lack of a better term:

"ABSINTHE . . . Needed both for frappes, drips; but mainly in tiny quantities to fetch out the other tastes in cocktails -- importanly, picker-uppers.

"Now made principally in Switzerland, being banned in France. It is a highly toxic beverage based on wormwood elixirs, with a very odd and intriguing taste. It is an absolute essential for every well-stocked bar -- mainly as a flavouring agent."

[Serpis?]

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