|By Tlautrec on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 05:44 pm: Edit|
Just got back from the mighty continent - I found both Trenet and Hapsburg on sale in Utrecht, Netherlands, in a small liquor store tucked away in the very rear part of the Hoog Catarijne shopping center adjacent to the train station. Now, it's unclear to me what the Dutch laws on absinthe are - it's supposed to be illegal there still - and only these two brands of swill were on sale, so you gotta wonder. Based on the cautionary advice of the person I was with, who had earlier bought a bottle of the Bulgarian swill, Hapsburg, and testified as to how horrible it tasted, I purchased the Trenet. Now this particular swill is made in France, and was supposedly the first "new" absinthe-type product produced in that country, antedating Absente, Versinthe and La Fée. But I seriously question whether it's really absinthe. Unlike La Fée, which is the real McCoy, this Trenet product advertises itself on the label, in very small letters as "liqueur aux extraits des herbes d'" and, in very large letters, "ABSINTHE". This is, of course, what it says on the Absente and Oxygénée labels. It's been well established that Absente is absent of any real absinthe qualities, and the jury is still out on Oxy in this regard (at least Oxy tastes really good...by the way, profound and abundant thanks to Petermarc for informing me of where Oxy can be bought in Paris).
Now as to the Trenet, it's a horrific neon green - couldn't be more artificial looking - as phony looking in its own way as Swill's. The taste wasn't much better - like cheap mouthwash. When sweetened, there was an acceptable residual bitterness, but there was nothing particularly refreshing or appealing about that light bitterness. To me, Campari and soda is a yummy and delectable bittersweet pre-dinner drink. The degree of bitterness in the sweetened Trenet was comparable to that of Campari and soda, but there was nothing either yummy or delectable about it. I could get it down, but I didn't particularly enjoy it - bittersweet without charm or finesse. It was bittersweet cheap, something like the taste bittersweet bubble gum might have if there were such a thing.
Then, the acid test - the sensation it provokes on the upper gum between my teeth and lips. I can feel real abs - the wormwood tingles - it makes me want to repeatedly swish the beverage through my upper teeth to stimulate the gums with that special tingle. Trenet? No tingle, just the slight astringency of an alcoholic aperitif. So, I'd have to conclude that the Trenet is just a low quality, poor imitation of the real thing. The bottle I bought will undoubtedly sit on the shelf as a curiosity for years - forlorn and unconsumed. Fortunately, at the store in question, it only cost NFL 48, about $20 at current exchange rates.
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