|By JKK on Friday, September 29, 2000 - 04:21 pm: Edit|
Thanks, Marcellin, but no plans as of yet to get back to Michigan.
I have never been to Madison, but I recall it being described in one of those guidebooks to universities as "one of the groovier places to study." Anyway the Slavic dept. at U of Wisconsin is thriving, and I've heard nothing but good things about it. As for Urbana, nobody I've met has been favorably impressed with this city. My applications were accepted at both schools, but Illinois gave me an assistant's post--and free tuition--and Wisconsin didn't, so I'm here for another year and a half, I guess.
|By Marcellin on Wednesday, September 27, 2000 - 11:31 am: Edit|
As I have stated in the past, my door is always open should you find yourself once more in your departed city. The goes for all who travel the great midwest.
"fellow absintheur in Lansing"
|By peter marc on Tuesday, September 26, 2000 - 01:19 pm: Edit|
illinois and wisconsin, ey? i guess i can
now safely state that i used to live in the
cultural black hole of north-eastern wisconsin.
fortunately, i escaped, but not without damage.
paris is like mars, but in a good way, you know..?
|By Anatomist1 on Monday, September 25, 2000 - 05:46 pm: Edit|
I just drove in Chicago this past weekend. I must say I have never seen so many dented and gashed cars here in Madison, or in any other place I've lived. Since I don't have to do it often, I find driving there kind of invigorating. The alertness and gumption required are stimulating. I'm beginning to develop a new theory about Illinois drivers: Madison is like another planet to Chicagoans because there's no challenge, nothing to push against. Here, you don't have to fight for position, cut people off, tailgate, and hammer on your brakes all the time, so they are lulled into a euphoric stupor. They start gawking because they are bored, and they forget how to drive, or perhaps even that they are in fact driving, in some cases.
Have you ever been to Madison? Is U-C drearier?
|By Tabreaux on Monday, September 25, 2000 - 04:31 pm: Edit|
Your hypothesis on aging undoubtedly is true to a degree, and I am familiar with the benefits of short term aging with respect to certain constituents on a first-hand basis. Some of what is relevent in wine or whisky making applies here, some does not. I should point out however that I was able to single out specific herbs (by GC and taste) in the aged E. Pernod which I've worked with recently. This information confirmed that the 'degradation' in this sample was minimal. When compounds degrade, they don't just vanish. They degrade into other compounds, and these will show up on a chromatograms as stray peaks and noise. The sample(s) I've worked with so far are remarkably clean, and 'noise-free'. In contrast, most instances whereby someone has a sample of original material, the sample is grossly discolored and tastes unrecognizable (horrible). Judging by the strength, distinctness of recognizable flavors, preservation of color, and the results yielded by modern analytical techniques, there is no doubt in my mind that the original character is intact.
|By JKK on Monday, September 25, 2000 - 03:18 pm: Edit|
All right, I'm presently in Illinois. I've been to Chicago a few times and it seemed exciting, but rather nerve-racking to drive in. The thing is since I'm older now, I prefer quieter--but still interesting places--such as Berkeley. Anyway, I'm living in Champaign-Urbana which even the locals admit is kind of dreary. Well, I had no intention to offend anyone, let's just say that I'm not yet acclimated or that I am homesick for the west coast--California, Oregon and Washington are all great in my book. Again, I can't say that I really know Chicago and environs.
I'm still using my e-mail address from Michigan, so drop a line if you want. It's sort of annoying that I discovered there was a fellow absintheur in Lansing after I had already moved away!
Come over and imbibe any time.
|By Absintheur on Monday, September 25, 2000 - 01:42 pm: Edit|
"I would actually like to hear more (from anyone) about the long term aging of liqueurs. Esp high proof liqueurs. How much better for example is 9th Centenary Chartreuse than VEP Chartreuse, that that one than ordinary Chartreuse? I suspect the differences are not very profound (unlike the prices!)"
Well, first, as to your argument that the tannins stay in the pot durring distillation, this is entirely true. I take no issue with it whatsoever.
But, it doesn't change the fact that finished absinthe is nearly always moderately, to highly, tannic, due to the final coloration step. Viartually any herb will empart some tannins and resins, both of which contribute to the aging process -- Artemesia pontica in particular is highly tannic, and any absinthe herbally colored with roman wormwood will age in bottle. Deva, in my experience has a particularly tannic quality.
Secondarily, any sugars added either naturally or artificially will break down in bottle aging. Many, not all, but many of the belle epoque absinthes had added sugars, caramels, and mellowing herbs (heresy, I know, but it's borne out in both recipes and secondary literature), all of these will break down in bottle aging.
As to the notion that the proof will preserve the componants -- I've been speaking with a small batch whisky disiller whose family has been in the business for genarations, and his feeling is that the proof will only selectively conserve componants like chlorophyll, while allowing acids, tannins, resins, and sugars to mature.
Flavor ballance can change tremendously as the individual componants age -- say, for example, the acid sharpness of mint degraded over time, while anise retained it's initial character. The product you tasted in 100 years would be virtually unrecognizable.
Contributing further to this discussion is the cask aging process used by many absinthe distillers, Pernod Fils included, that gave the distilled product months to mature, in wood, before it was bottled, and than months again in bottle before sale.
That being said, I don't feel that Hill's, or even Deva will mature over a century, into Edouard Pernod; I merely feel that the Pernod we taste today is not, no matter how well preserved, the Pernod they tasted at the turn of the century.
As such, I'm not happy, at all, with the prospect of making comparisons between any classic and modern absinthes, even in broad hypothetical terms.
|By Anatomist1 on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 06:15 pm: Edit|
I think you already mentioned which midwestern state you're in elsewhere. Let me tell you that the way people from your midwestern state drive when they're in MY midwestern state makes me wonder whether anyone in your midwestern state would even notice if they were being insulted. Of course, this being the land of dreary, nameless states, interstate driving critiques are a major pasttime...
|By Artemis on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 03:40 pm: Edit|
"Presently I'm studying in a Midwestern state which shall remain nameless because I don't want to offend anybody ..."
Tell me. I won't be offended. Please tell me privately if you don't want to say it here. We may be in the same state.
"I guess I'm starting to ramble, but it would have been nice to drink absinthe in Santa Monica with folks from the French dept. of UCLA."
It's nice to drink absinthe while watching the UCLA football team whip ass on Alabama. Drop me a line, JKK.
|By JKK on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 03:32 pm: Edit|
Don't you mean "thread"?
Anyway, this thread brought back memories. I majored in French at UCLA--I graduated in 1989. Too bad I'm not still there! Presently I'm studying in a Midwestern state which shall remain nameless because I don't want to offend anybody, and if I start talking about it I'll probably complain about how dreary it is! I guess I'm starting to ramble, but it would have been nice to drink absinthe in Santa Monica with folks from the French dept. of UCLA. Take care!
|By Chrysippvs on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 02:35 pm: Edit|
now this is a tread!
|By Marc on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 01:40 pm: Edit|
anna and absintheur,
On re-reading anna's post, I see that she was taking notes. I should read these things more carefully. Now that I know anna exists, and was telling the truth, her post has gone from being suspect to fascinating. I guess I'm the one being paranoid around here. The whole scene with the longhaired, one-armed man (absintheur),the house full of antiques and cabinet
of absinthe, reads like an outtake from Kubrick's
film EYE'S WIDE SHUT.
My aplologies to anna for doubting the veracity of her post.
Overall, this has been a very interesting thread.
|By Don Walsh on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 12:27 pm: Edit|
Even with wines aging is sometimes irrelevant or undesirable: many whites are there to drink young. Grand cru Bordeaux generally are mature in 6 to 10 years although longer laying down periods can bring out some deeper qualities. Problem is, temperature needs to be constant. Lots of things can go wrong. Not all corks are created equal. A fine wine of great promise may turn into expensive vinegar.
Distilled products are 'aged' in wood; whiskeys and brandies for longer periods, and then generally blended to achieve a result. (But I love malts.)
Liqueurs usually undergo a very brief 'aging' of days or weeks or maybe months.
How much further change may occur after bottling, is a very open question. Absinthe isn't port. Nor sherry.
About the only way to look into this (apart from the record) will be to start a library or our absinthes and then try to follow their progress if any over time. Sounds like fun anyway.
|By Tabreaux on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 12:06 pm: Edit|
Somehow, I don't think that will happen. While age may enhance many wines and liqueurs, I don't think you can expect a metamorphosis in any case where absinthe is concerned (due to the high alcohol content, which makes for a stable environment as long as O2 is kept out.
The reason why most of the references are to E. Pernod are because for whatever reason, this is the one seems to pop up in greater frequency. E. Pernod was the third largest distiller, and didn't get that way by accident. The product was highly regarded, and seemed to find its way into wine cellars.
|By Don Walsh on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 11:58 am: Edit|
Absintheur: no intent to poke fun at you. Quite to the contrary. It was just the image of Swills slowly metamorphizing into something wonderful that had me bemused.
And I am sure you know a dmn sight more about wine than I do too.
I would actually like to hear more (from anyone) about the long term aging of liqueurs. Esp high proof liqueurs. How much better for example is 9th Centenary Chartreuse than VEP Chartreuse, that that one than ordinary Chartreuse? I suspect the differences are not very profound (unlike the prices!)
|By Don Walsh on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 11:31 am: Edit|
I hate to take a thought provoking, almost profound discussion and insert an absurdity, but, if Absintheur is right, and mediocre absinthes will evolve into the nectar of the gods in a hundred years or so (screw caps can't cork...they may corrode though...) then the purveyors of various ho-hum green failures may have an out. Lay down your unsold inventories! in the 22nd Century it will be green gold!
|By Tabreaux on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 11:21 am: Edit|
Yes, Absintheur. The sample you are referring to is the one I described.
With regard to old absinthe vs. new absinthe, the GC patterns in the samples of old that I have are very distinct, and are very much unlike the modern products. From what I can determine insofar as the analysis goes, this is due to different herbal content and production methods. In that respect, I don't think you could age a bottle of Glen Ellen into a 1920 Rothschilde either.
|By Don Walsh on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 11:20 am: Edit|
The point is valid but mostly irrelevant...
Unless we are immortal (not) we aren't going to be around to taste whatever
Sebor or Deva might mature into in a century.
Unless we have a time machine -- we can't know what a well preserved 1899
bottle of E Pernod tasted like in 1900.
We can and do know what it tastes like now. My argument (and I think Ted's)
is that what that taste is like, is a lot closer to what the original taste
must have been, than any modern 'absinthe' (much less pastis) and by a long
So Ted deliverately set ought to elaborate that flavor.
To use your Bordeaux analogy (which is a little unfair, as wines IMHO
benefit from aging MUCH more than do liqueurs): suppose some vintner could
give you a vintage 1999 premier crux that tastes just as rounded, just as
mature, as a bottle that had been laid down in a good cellar for 80 years?
Is that good or bad? Never mind that it is unlikely!
Liqueurs mature fast (the marriage of the flavors) and then plateau out.
Further changes if any are probably subtle. Great wines are made or broken
by the aging and storage conditions. There really isn't much in common about
the processes. Anyway no premium distilled absinthe is tannic -- the tannins
stay in the pot, if not, the absinthe is crap.
How about OTHER premium couve absinthes? Pernod Fils? Anything else? Why
limit your recitation of experience of the old ones to E.Pernod?
By the way Ted's the one with the really educated palate. Mine is (to put it mildly) not so sophisticated.
|By Absintheur on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 10:58 am: Edit|
"You have tasted premium belle epoch absinthes like Pernod Fils and E.Pernod have you not? I am sure you have. Can you point to any modern absinthe and say "That tastes like the finest absinthes of a century ago." ?"
My experience with Edouard Pernod was limited to one small encounter in France last year. I don't feel qualified to make comparisons between it and currently extant absinthes for two reasons:
1) Simple lack of significant exposure to Edouard Pernod.
And more importantly:
2) I don't feel that it is remotely fair to compare a bottle of alcohol (especially highly tannic alcohol) with 100 years of age on it to any modern equivilent.
The Edouard Pernod I tasted had aged well. It is entirely plausible to me that a bottle of Deva, Segarra, or even Sebor, would mature into a comparably stately product if allowed to rest in an underground wine cellar until 2100.
A 1920 Rothschild and a 1999 Rothschild are two totally different animals, in a blind tasting you'd be hard pressed to convince anyone that they originated in the same winery.
|By Absintheur on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 10:46 am: Edit|
I just want to be clear that we're talking about the same sample. This was a sample I received second hand this year, not the one you sent me directly in May of 1999.
The two were totally different, I preferred the more recent blend to the older.
|By Don Walsh on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 10:45 am: Edit|
There's a lesson buried in this thread. No need to be too concerned about trolls and attempts to influence the opinion of this forum by people with concealed agendas. The crux is: flavor. It won't be long now, and all of you will know what we have been up to, because you'll have a bottle or three or will have shared one with a friend who has them. You can them have a new frame of reference on what absinthe is supposed to taste like.
Absintheur: you have tasted premium belle epoch absinthes like Pernod Fils and E.Pernod have you not? I am sure you have. Can you point to any modern absinthe and say "That tastes like the finest absinthes of a century ago." ?
It isn't the authenticity of the recipe that matters. It's the authenticity of the taste. The two do not go together, because the 'recipes' fail to preserve the techniques and skills of the old distillers. Those are lost forever.
We have elaborated the taste. That's what matters.
|By Tabreaux on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 10:24 am: Edit|
Ah, now it's clear! The sample Absintheur is referring to is from a small aliquot I made quite a while back, well before Don and I even met. I may have called it N--- Orleans, which was a pet name I used for any of my projects. I believe the sample referred to is the result of a genuine, 200 year-old protocol which I experimented with some time ago. Yes, the result is light anise, with mint and some other very herbal (somewhat medicinal) flavors. While strangely unique, it differs strongly from the upcoming product of similar name.
This post has been all of interesting, intriguing, and amusing. Nevertheless, all is now explained.
|By Don Walsh on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 09:49 am: Edit|
I believe I will let Ted respond to this.
I will say, as a matter of simple chronology, that as Ted and I did not start collaborating till April-May, which is five months ago at most, and that I know how many iterations and changes Ted has made since then -- I can only speculate how many he went through for several months prior to that.
'Nouvelle Orleans' is just one of several variations we are preparing. I will let Ted address the issue (or maybe not) of what it does or not contain. I have no idea where he was at with it in January 2000, when this sample must have been prepared.
Of what has been prepared here -- none is in the US, and the only person to have sampled it (any version at any stage) other than Ted and myself, was James Gordon of New Millenium.
I'll say this: what we have now, as of Ted's 10 day working visit here a few weeks ago, tastes just like antique E.Pernod. (This is not the Nouvelle I am talking about). And antique E.Pernod (and other belle-epoque absinthes of premium labels) taste NOTHING like ANY modern absinthe.
Therefore, I am moved to wonder what Anna's response might have been if confronted with a genuine century old premium absinthe to taste amidst the Deva and the La Bleue and the Hermes -- I did tweak to the Hermes, knowing how hard it is to find and that Absintheur has some. Anyway, would someone comparing a bottle of well preserved E.Pernod or Pernod Fils, to Segarra, describe the Real McCoy as 'weird'? Well, maybe.
What I am saying is: if one hasn't tasted old absinthe, one hasn't really tasted absinthe at all. And the primary opportunity that all but a tiny elite will ever have to experience that, firsthand, is what Ted and I are preparing to put out there for about $100 a bottle, delivered.
Thanks, Absintheur, for clearing the air.
|By Absintheur on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 08:34 am: Edit|
Alright, there are quite a few errors in the post below, so let me clear them up, before "Anna" gets accused of more prevarication.
"And, I start a conversation with the only guy in the room who's not drinking, who turns out to be the girl from my office's fiance, who co-owns the house."
I do not own the house. I do not even live in the house. It is a Producer's house that we were housesitting and using for the party. I do not live in a six-million dollar home with gothic interiors.
""And, we get to talking about my minor in French, and talk about Verlaine, to which he says, "Do you like the Decadents?" And, so I tell him how much I love them (this is getting long, sorry, the good part is coming), and he pulls a copy of His Absinthe Tinted Song off the bookshelf."
The book in question was Wormwood: A Drama of Paris, I brought it with me for a party that I was throwing the next night.
"So I get up and follow this guy (he's this tall long-haired guy with one arm missing from the elbow down, and an incredibly deep voice) into the next room, and there's this massive sideboard/liquor cabinate, and he opens it up, and there are like 50 bottles of absinthe."
There were a grand total of 12 bottles and 8 samples. It was there for a party that I threw last night (Friday), I was just storing it in a china cabinet in the dining room.
My voice is not all that deep. Yes, I am the one armed man.
"And, I try it, and almost choke on it. And, he pours me another type, which is less bitter, and I drink a little. And we sit and talk for about twenty minutes, in which time I drain the big glass he's given me."
The first glass was a very nice home distilled product from a friend in San Fransisco, and the second was Deva.
"So, he gets out littler glasses, like half as big as the ones we've been drinking and pours six of them, and puts the bottles down by the glasses, and he goes into the other room and gets some Roquefort cheese from the appetizer tray, and he spreads some on crutons and he tells me that I should have some cheese between tastes to, "refresh my palate," because the licorice taste will overwhelm my ability to taste differences if I don't."
I didn't choose the cheese (Gorgonzola, I think) because it was good for anything, I chose it because it was the only thing left of all of the noshes.
Keep in mind, this was a large gathering.
"So there are six brands. Three from full bottles: Segarra, Hermes, and Sebor, and three in little vials La Bleue, and Absinthe Verte, from Switzerland and Nouveau Orleans, which he says is going to be sold from Asia."
That's not what I said, actually.
The final absinthe in question was a sample (about six ounces) from the single existing bottle of Ted's home distilled product. The bottle belongs to a current forum member. That's where the sample originated.
I labeled the sample Nouvelle Orleans because that was the name that Ted had used to describe his product, not because I felt that it was a good indicator of what the finished version of his product would taste like.
This is not necessarily representative, at all, of what is being produced in Thailand. It is one of two samples of Ted's work that I've tasted, the two of them could not have been more different from one another.
"And he asks me if I want to take notes, which I think is wierd, but he tells me that he used to be a food writer and that it helps him to get his thoughts straight. So both of us take notes and talk about each taste."
Just to reply to Marc: this is why she remembers.
And, I didn't so much ask her if she wanted to take notes, as announce that I was going to take notes. I'm supposed to comment on a variety of brands in a documentary that's currently being pitched to the BBC (for those keeping track it got bumped from A&E), so I'm constantly updating my notes on my tastings.
"The Absinthe Verte doesn't cloud much, and is quite similar to La Bleue, but it's gota greasy sheen on the top of the glass and is a little bot bitter tasting."
This was a pretty bad bottle of Swiss absinthe, there are much better examples of green Swiss Absinthe out there.
"And, the Nouveau Orleans, is just wierd, it's not terribly, but it's mouthwashy, mint-flavored absinthe with almost no licorice in it at all."
Ok, on to the issue of the greatest controversy: this is nowhere near as insulting as it sounds.
Ted's absinthe (from around eight months ago, not to be taken as an indication of what Ted and Don's absinthe is going to taste like), is extremely heavy on mint, and contains only anise seed, which is vastly fainter in flavor than star anise.
Given that I don't currently even own a bottle of Hill's absinthe "Anna" had no such frame of reference in which to work, so for her the word mouthwashy came to mind. It's not the term that I would have chosen.
When consumed in concert with other modern absinthes Ted's tastes something like an absinthe mint-julep, not at all mouthwashy in the same way that Hill's is. The flavor is extremely dry, and mint is the dominant flavor.
That's all. No ulterior motives whatsoever.
Sorry that my absinthe tasting with my fiance's coworker became a forum issue. I take full responsibility as I'm the one who told her about Kallisti's webpage. I wrote the URL in her tasting notes.
|By Mike on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 07:29 am: Edit|
I can tell you exactly who this one armed man is. I've met him. It's Absintheur, and given that she knows that, I'm inclined to believe her. Has anybody emailed him lately and asked?
|By Don Walsh on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 03:37 am: Edit|
Hey, I remember Dr Tichener's (Tichenor's?) I think my mom used to use it as topical antiseptic on my cits, scrapes, insect bites etc. Can't imagine it as a mouthwash...but better than Hill's, I'm sure of that.
Now if you mixed it with Dr Pepper (maybe to wash down a Moon Pie) then you'd really have something...awful...
|By Chrysippvs on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 02:37 am: Edit|
I always thought "absinth" was Czech for anti-freeze.
This post does seem a bit funny..
No one can be a real member of this forum without knocking my spelling and/or grammar...
|By Tabreaux on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 02:08 am: Edit|
Don't knock Hill's. Four out of five morticians prefer it to formaldehyde.
Neither Listerine mouthwash or Hill's mouthwash compares with good old Dr. Tichenor's mouthwash and general cure-all, made right here in New Orleans for some 130 years. Just like the old bottles say, "Fit for man or beast." Purported to be an alcoholic steep of arnica flowers (among other things).
|By arturo ui on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 01:44 am: Edit|
also, i can't help but notice how quickly "anna" found this forum...
i'm with don and marc on this one.
|By Marc on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 01:00 am: Edit|
Don and Bob,
I prefer the taste of Listerine to Hill's. Given a choice of mouthwashes, I always opt for Listerine. In an emergency I will resort to using
Hill's. Hill's is the only absinthe that helps prevent gingivitis.
|By Don Walsh on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 12:37 am: Edit|
No, that's my cousin Radomil Walsh in Transylvania. :)^
|By Marc on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 12:37 am: Edit|
In her post, Anna seems to have either a photographic memory or she was taking notes. How else could she have had what seems to have been a mindtwisting experience on absinthe and still
recall the names of all the brands she consumed, how those brand names are spelled and how each brand tasted? And who on earth uses cheese as a palate cleanser? Particularly Roquefort! This post is clearly a fabrication.
|By Marc on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 12:21 am: Edit|
I believe that Anna is someone in the absinthe business who is trying to discredit Don and Ted's new product. A competitor perhaps. I think the post is bullshit.
do you really exist or are you the creation of a petty and paranoid absinthe dealer? Is this a campaign of misinformation? If so, you're busted!
|By Bob Chong on Friday, September 22, 2000 - 11:19 pm: Edit|
You mean you're *not* making minty-fresh Absinthe Mouthwash? I'm disappointed. :-)
|By Don Walsh on Friday, September 22, 2000 - 10:55 pm: Edit|
Troll, much more likely. She dropped a name awfully close to the name of one of our products (although, for someone who claims to have a minor in French, the error was a pretty egregious one.)
The absinthe she described sounded like Hills, not like anything we make.
|By Bob Chong on Friday, September 22, 2000 - 09:39 pm: Edit|
FWIW--she never said it was the Thai product. She's new to this forum and may know nothing of it. It could be something none of us have ever heard of.
Or the post could be a well-crafted troll (complete with one-armed man).
|By Don Walsh on Friday, September 22, 2000 - 09:14 pm: Edit|
Someone is blowing smoke. No sample of any version of our product(s) has left Bangkok, so, unless your office party migrated from L.A. to Thailand -- what you say you tasted wasn't any sort of 'Orleans'
|By Tabreaux on Friday, September 22, 2000 - 05:28 pm: Edit|
Sounds like something even weirder than that to me, and I am a bit befuddled to say the least. "Nouveau Orleans" isn't the correct name of the product, the description doesn't fit, and that product hasn't even been finalized yet! As a result, no sample exists at the present. Go figure! I suppose next thing I should expect is to see myself across a crowded cafe!
|By Marc on Friday, September 22, 2000 - 05:10 pm: Edit|
Sounds like somebody slipped something into your drink. Beware of one-armed men bearing cheese trays and little blue vials.
|By Anna on Friday, September 22, 2000 - 04:28 pm: Edit|
Hi there, I'm new so you'll have to forgive me, but I'm buzzing, and I had to post this somewhere. I tried absinthe for the first time last night, and I want to get all this out before I start to forget.
So, I went to this office party, I do work-study at UCLA in the Psych office, and there's this girl there who's hosting dinner Thursday night for the doctors, and she invited me. So, this party is at her house in this nice part of Santa Monica just outside L.A., and it's misting a little, and all these doctors are hanging out inside the living room, which is full of antiques, drinking Mojita's (rum, mint and lime, like a mint 7-up).
And, I start a conversation with the only guy in the room who's not drinking, who turns out to be the girl from my office's fiance, who co-owns the house. And, we get to talking about my minor in French, and talk about Verlaine, to which he says, "Do you like the Decadents?" And, so I tell him how much I love them (this is getting long, sorry, the good part is coming), and he pulls a copy of His Absinthe Tinted Song off the bookshelf. So I start joking about his what the party needs is some absinthe. And he says, "Come with me."
So I get up and follow this guy (he's this tall long-haired guy with one arm missing from the elbow down, and an incredibly deep voice) into the next room, and there's this massive sideboard/liquor cabinate, and he opens it up, and there are like 50 bottles of absinthe.
And he starts pulling them out, and now I'm really freaked out because I'm not sure if I want to have a drug experience with my bosses in the next room. And he tells me that Absinthe is not at all what I think, and that I need to try a little.
So goes into the next room and gets some glasses (absinthe glasses from the turn of the century with big cut outs in the bottom to measure the absinthe with), and absinthe spoons. . . lots of absinthe spoons, like twenty for me to choose from. So, I take one marked Perronode, and he takes one with flowers cut out of it, and he sets up the glasses with rectangular sugar cubes, and he pours me a glass of absinthe.
And, I try it, and almost choke on it. And, he pours me another type, which is less bitter, and I drink a little. And we sit and talk for about twenty minutes, in which time I drain the big glass he's given me.
And, he asks if I want a full tasting. And, I'm really game at this point, because I really don't want to go back out and get drunk with the doctors. So I say yes.
So, he gets out littler glasses, like half as big as the ones we've been drinking and pours six of them, and puts the bottles down by the glasses, and he goes into the other room and gets some Roquefort cheese from the appetizer tray, and he spreads some on crutons and he tells me that I should have some cheese between tastes to, "refresh my palate," because the licorice taste will overwhelm my ability to taste differences if I don't.
So there are six brands. Three from full bottles: Segarra, Hermes, and Sebor, and three in little vials La Bleue, and Absinthe Verte, from Switzerland and Nouveau Orleans, which he says is going to be sold from Asia.
And he asks me if I want to take notes, which I think is wierd, but he tells me that he used to be a food writer and that it helps him to get his thoughts straight. So both of us take notes and talk about each taste.
The Segarra is really bitter, kind of unpleasant tasting, but with a nice licorice flavor. I'm not sure I like it.
The Hermes is really good, nice and sweet, with no real bitterness. It makes my tongue numb and I eat alot of cheese to clear my palate.
The Sebor is tasty, but it doesn't cloud as much as the others. Flavor-wise I like it quite a bit though.
The La Bleue is the cloudiest, and is very tasty, mostly licorice, but really lively tasting, less burnt than the Hermes.
The Absinthe Verte doesn't cloud much, and is quite similar to La Bleue, but it's gota greasy sheen on the top of the glass and is a little bot bitter tasting.
And, the Nouveau Orleans, is just wierd, it's not terribly, but it's mouthwashy, mint-flavored absinthe with almost no licorice in it at all.
So I ask if I can try more, because there are tons of other bottles on his shelves, and he tells me not to drink too much in one sitting. To which I reply, saying I'm not even drunk.
He tells me to give it time, that absinthe has a time release quality, and that I'll be plenty drunk in an hour. So we sit and talk about French literary theory, and eat cheese until the girl from my office comes in and tells us to come for dinner. And, by this time I can hardly get up, it's like I did ten shots of vodka really fast and I'm just all of a sudden feeling it. So I stay there, staring into the little glass of absinthe and the cheese tray, while everyone else eats. When dinner is over they have to give me a ride home.
And, this morning I could hardly get up. I was more than an hour late for work. Luckily that will probably be the last chance I get to taste absinthe, so it'll never happen again.
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