Archive through August 31, 2000

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Old Topics Archived Thru Sep 2000:We gotta get out of this "place"/What attracted you to absinthe?:Archive through August 31, 2000
By Tish1025 on Thursday, August 31, 2000 - 06:00 pm: Edit

My interest in absinthe began (I hate to admit!) 24 years ago, when I found a recipe in an 1880's Cordial & Liqueur book at my public library.

I mascerated the stuff, and it was vile, but REALLY potent! Especially regarding the thujone content. I used four ounces of wormwood in one litre of grain alcohol. Blech.

As I matured, I gave it up, turning instead to the burgeoning micro beer scene, but never forgot my passion for that remarkable green stuff.

Last year, my interest was again kindled when I acquired some antique absinthe paraphernalia. (I am a refugee from teaching, and I now sell antiques.) I again mascerated that stuff, this time using less wormwood, and adding more flavourful bases like Chartreuse V.E.P. Green and Dr. Roux's (they really are yummy, and make it easier to swallow, but are far preferable on their own).

I then searched the Web, and decided to order some "real" distilled absinthe...hang any government's prohibitions or squeamishness. And I was delighted!!

I discovered the Czech stuff first, ordering Absinthe King, and Pilsner. Both were quite adequate, and I was happy to not have them get lost in Customs...

HOWEVER!!! I then ordered a bottle of La Bleue, available in the U.S. (yippee!!!), and I think I finally know what good quality absinthe should taste like.

Aside from the ease of ordering and shipment, the taste is beyond remarkable. Soft, gentle, and incredibly complex...in short, a wonder for me...

So much so, that I ordered two more bottles a week later, despite the $150 price tag per bottle. It is well worth the expense. (Enough of the commercial...but my views are honest...)

Justin...thanks so much for making the tasty stuff available... =)

---Tish

By Chrysippvs on Thursday, August 31, 2000 - 08:00 am: Edit

I too have seen those fountains/glasses. I have heard that they have about the same rarity of the simple Res. glass does in France, although one will need to look in Spain for them. From what I understand preparing absinthe with the strainer can take over 15 min! Allow me to ask around I bet I can find one of them somewhere.

What is interesting to me is that in the 20's Spanish absinthe was being colored yellow then as well instead of the more traditional green. I wonder why they changed it.

take care,

J

By tabreaux on Thursday, August 31, 2000 - 03:37 am: Edit

I've seen pictures of the little glass top which fits on top of the Pernod glasses, but I do not have one to show you.

As far as my story, I'll have to post it later. I have a plane to catch, and I don't have time to do it now.

By Marc on Thursday, August 31, 2000 - 01:57 am: Edit

Hey Ted,

why are you so remote? Loosen up and tell us what
pulled you into absinthe's orbit.

By Bob Chong on Thursday, August 31, 2000 - 12:35 am: Edit

Ted:

Do you know where there is a picture of such a fountain as you (and Hem) described?

Thanks!

BC

By malhomme on Wednesday, August 30, 2000 - 10:02 pm: Edit

I had heard of absinthe mostly through my family. My father would romanticize it, telling me as a kid it was "mad, bad, and dangerous to know". The Lord Byron of the spirits world. Told me of the Old Absinthe House and how it had wormwood and would rot the brain. My dad raised such a fine Deviant.
Later from Hemingway. "A Moveable Feast", I think was the first (as I remember it, though I can't find a reference to it in the book now).
Two years later. I get a bottle of Pernod as a gift.
A month later. One night I'm driving slowly through an alley behind a convenience store on Speight St in Waco, and spot a patch of knee-high Artemesias in an abandoned lot. I am shocked at my luck! I gather some up and return home to stuff them in my Pernod to steep.
Two days later. I drink it. A lot of it. And it was good. Hallucinagenic, actually. OK, not real absinthe but pretty good for 10+ years ago. Without a still. For a first time. Using herbs gathered behind a Circle-K. Not even absintheum!
Every six months, or so, I would make a new batch of ever-nearing authenticity.

*** Spinning newspapers of time ****

Here I am, enjoying the "real" thing. My brain has not become "rotten". I'm the only thing "mad, bad, and dangerous to know"... when I'm out of absinthe. Yeah, Deva's sweet. I still take it with sugar. After honing that perfect "steeped" for years, you bet I'm content paying for distilled. It just doesn't compare.
A born-again die-hard.

--malhomme

By Krystofa on Tuesday, August 29, 2000 - 10:19 pm: Edit

Great thread! I am a severe greenhorn/rookie/virgin/squid to absinthe. What attracted me, was you gentlemen. I have been reading your posts for some time, and most of you seem intelligent and cordial, a large step above most of the "pschonautical" special interest groups I have been a part of. I first discovered absinthe through art studies: a nod by Wilde, a still-life by Van Gogh, etc. But I never really considered pursuing it until I started reading this forum regularly.

I have tried too many extracurricular chemicals, and while lysergic acid dithalamine will forever hold a place in my heart, I am simply getting too old for that kind of entertainment. My only vice for the past five years has been Guinnes with the occasional nip of Whiskey (note the "ey") I make a meager wage that until now I've devoted to a collection of art and antiques and wasted a good portion on an education. I am hoping absinthe will be my art, antique, and my vice. I am looking forward to a long loving relationship with the green muse.

I will foray into the world of absinthe guided most in part by your posts. Thank you gentlemen, one and all, for bringing me to this. It was either absinthe or cranial trepanation, I chose the less messy of the two for no other reason then pure laziness... well, not true; that, and my wife said she would cut me off if I shaved my head.

Bibo Ergo Cado,
Krystofa

By tabreaux on Tuesday, August 29, 2000 - 09:22 pm: Edit

I believe he is referring to the Pernod S.A. individual glass 'fountain' which sat atop the Pernod glass and dribbled water through a small hole.

By Bob Chong on Tuesday, August 29, 2000 - 09:02 pm: Edit

I had first heard of absinthe in Hemingway's books. Possibly the Sun Also Rises or maybe one of his short stories. What really drew me to learn more was after I read his Garden of Eden. Here is the passage:

The waiter had been serving three Spaniards who were sitting at a table next to the door. He came over now holding a glass and an ordinary Pernod bottle and a small narrow-lipped pitcher of water. There were lumps of ice in the water. "Pour Monsieur aussi?" he asked.

"Yes," the young man said. "Please."

The waiter poured their glasses half full of the off-yellow liquid and started to pour the water slowly into the girl's glass. But the young man said, "I'll do it," and the waiter took the bottle away. He seemed to be relieved to be taking it away and the young man poured the water in a very thin stream and the girl watched the absinthe cloud opalescently. It felt warm as her fingers held the glass and then as it lost the yellow cast and began to look milky it cooled sharply and the young man let the water fall in a drop at a time.

"Why does it have to go in slowly?" the girl asked.

"It breaks up and goes to pieces if the water pours in too fast," he explained. "Then it's flat and worthless. There ought to be a glass on top with ice and just a little hole for the water to drip. But everybody would know what it was then."

"I had to drink up fast before because two G.N.'s were in," the girl said.

"G.N.'s?"

"Whatyoumacallits nationals. In khaki with bicycles and black leather pistol holders. I had to engulp the evidence."

"Engulp?"

"Sorry. Once I engulped it I can't say it."

"You want to be careful about absinthe."

"It only makes me feel easier about things."

"And nothing else does?"

He finished making the absinthe for her, holding it well short of mildness. "Go ahead," he told her. "Don't wait for me." She took a long sip and then he took her glass from her and drank and said, "Thank you, Ma'am. That puts heart in a man."


(E. Hemingway, Garden of Eden, p. 38-39.)

Compelling, isn't it? So what's this ice-filled glass he's talking about? Anyone know about them? Where can we get them?

BC

By Anatomist1 on Tuesday, August 29, 2000 - 05:13 pm: Edit

Speaking of Van Gogh... I think it's interesting that his public image is now that of a turpentine-drinking, ear-slicing idiot, who couldn't cope or take care of himself. As someone who has labored fiercely at artwork in relative obscurity, I actually think of Mr. Van Gogh as one tough son of a bitch.

Personally, I find it difficult to persevere with little audience feedback, or encouragement in the form of $$$. After all, if I know I can make object X, if I can see object X in my mind's eye, if I can admire it, analyze it, take it apart, break it down, etc... without actually making it... If no one is going to pay me for making object X, and no one but me really cares if I make object X, then why bother? This is why I have largely switched to a different medium with new technical challanges to motivate me.

The fact that Vincent persisted so doggedly, painted so many damn paintings for such a long time, given his virtually complete lack of an audience or success is truly amazing. I wouldn't be surprised if he knew what he was doing when he started guzzling every liquid in sight. Perhaps it was a conscious decision by a titanic mind to put an end to itself... too long awake and utterly alone, longing for rest...

I have always been fascinated by tales of doomed visionaries, of people who fearlessly pursued their own path into isolation, obscurity, and untimely death. Speaking of which, last year, I created a website about Camille Claudel, if anyone would like to have a look:

http://members.home.net/anat69/camille/camillehome.htm

K.

By bluedog1 on Tuesday, August 29, 2000 - 05:02 pm: Edit

Great thread!

On my first trip to New Orleans, so many years ago that I don't want to think about it, I, as many before, became fascinated by the town's history, particularly how the Vieux Carre got that way.

Along those lines, I learned such useless information as the three traditional grand drinks of 19th Century New Orleans -- the Sazerac, the Ramos Gin Fizz, and the Dripped Absinthe Frappe, and learned the difference between Jean Lafitte's Absinthe House and the Old Absinthe House. I got fascinated over the ornate fixtures still in the bar.

Then I read Barnaby Conrad's book, which started my desire to, at the very least try Absinthe once.

Two unpublished novels and a lot of historic study later, I stumbled across this forum (thank you Kallisti) and bought my first bottle of Deva. Now, through the Mari and the Tunel, I have a desire to try every brand sooner or later, meet Ted and Don on one of my sorties to the Crescent City, and relax myself in the absinthe ritual following a grueling day at the rat race.

I don't really collect artifacts, but would love to get some of the French picture books. I totally enjoy learning and sharing my experiences with all of those of a like mind in this forum and enjoy showing the ritual to those who have never heard of absinthe.

By Billynorm on Tuesday, August 29, 2000 - 12:28 am: Edit

I forgot to mention the first time that I'd even heard of absinthe. I was 12 years old & my oldest sister was in college. She loaned me Irving Stone's LUST FOR LIFE, which I didn't so much read as devour! To be frank, I know absinthe was mentioned in the book & it didn't leave that much of an impression on me then. But from then on, I wanted to be Vincent van Gogh! I painted sunflowers & even copied his "L'Arlesienne" in pastels!

Now I'm older, my ears are intact, & maybe I'm wiser because, unlike van Gogh, I've developed a taste for absinthe, but turpentine is not my cup of tea!

By Black Rabbit on Monday, August 28, 2000 - 09:28 am: Edit

I saw too many paintings with absinthe as the subject matter, so I did some research, made some horrid Pernod with wormwood extract 'absinthe' (though it did do the trick.)

And then I found this forum (thanks Kallisti!)

Part of the attraction for me is the history.

Part of it is that while no one *really* knows what strange corruption it may induce in one's brain-meat, it has such a wonderful effect.

The taste, the esthetic, the history- it's all of it together.

Oddly, I have no attraction to antique absinthe gear, though. It seems (to me) to bring me closer to the history by using cheap and easily available stuff, and trying new combinations and cocktails freely with no regard to tradition or 'the right way' or the 'right brand' (as did Van Goh, Ribaud etc.)

I think Hill's for instance is a fine historical absinthe (something you should never drink, rotgut dyed green and called absinthe though it isn't. There was plenty around in the old days :-) And hell, looked at this way, so is Absente- they are carrying on the fine old Belle Epoch tradition of bilking the ignorant ;-)

Cheers!

By Don Walsh on Monday, August 28, 2000 - 05:48 am: Edit

Being from New Orleans, and into liqueurs since childhood, I was absinthe aware from early on. I recall my grandmother saying how much she had liked absinthe. I tried Pernod and Herbsaint and wasn't very impressed. I moved on. That would have been in the 60s. Also I used to drink in both of the Absinthe House bars on Bourbon Street from time to time.

In 1999 (and by this time I'd been in Bangkok for a dozen years) a friend, observing my good connections for Cuban cigars (direct from Havana through diplomatic channels) suggested that with that sort of clout and networking I ought to be able to get hold of some absinthe. Absinthe! I hadn't thought about the stuff for years. I did a search. Found this Forum. Read the FAQ and the Buyers Guide. Eventually met Ted and others online. Got involved in DIY and now have gone commercial (with Ted). I guess I don't like doing things by half measures...

By Mr. Wormwood on Monday, August 28, 2000 - 04:46 am: Edit

I was traveling and bought a copy of Scientific American to read on the plane. (June 1989 issue) It had a really neat article on absinthe, I thought it was facinating so I did some more reading on it. Later that month I found an absinthe spoon in an antique shop near my home.

After that I have been trying to find out as much about it as I can. I have also not stopped collecting absinthe related junk either.

I am not a big drinker but I have a few bottles and take one every once and a while.

By Anatomist1 on Sunday, August 27, 2000 - 06:44 pm: Edit

Many thanks to Billynorm for setting a good thread in motion...

I had read a thing or three about absinthe in my limited excursions into art history. I assume I was somewhat interested, because, at the time, drug adventures were my passion. (Funny. In high school, I went from "Just say no" to "Acid is the fucking Holy Grail" in about two weeks. My brain was cramped and needed some room.) However, despite my inerbriatory propensities, the dark spectre of absinthe looming in the background of my art history studies failed to stir me. Perhaps it was the absolute impossiblity of getting any...

The earliest clear memory I have of paying absinthe serious attention was during a discussion of the movie "Betty Blue" with my then girlfriend. If you have seen the movie, you know that Betty goes from excitingly passionate and forthright to suicidally insane during the course of the movie, and eventually drops dead... Well, my friend pointed to several scenes where Betty was drinking a transparent, azure-blue drink in the film, speculating that this was absinthe, and it drove Betty insane. In retrospect, this was a surprisingly ignorant speculation on the part of a brilliant ethnopharmacology nut who had been on more than one desert quest for rare intoxicants...

I suppose Betty could have been drinking dissolved copper sulfate, but I think that would have resulted in mere kidney failure. It is much more likely that the drink was blue becuase it looked cool on screen. Nevertheless, the spectacle of Betty's poignant descent into absolute madness got my attention. Later research convinced me that absinthe was probably not such a dramatic poison, and shortly after I found this forum, two bottles of Deva were on the way to my doorstep.

Now that I have tried absinthe, experience holds sway. But, I think the memory of Betty's spooky decline is still lurking back there somewhere.

While I'm talking movies with great moods: Midas' mention of opium culture brought to mind "McCabe and Mrs. Miller". Great Leonard Cohen soundtrack. Great movie. If y'all haven't seen it, go to the video store and ante up.

K.

By Midas on Saturday, August 26, 2000 - 08:00 am: Edit

I first heard of absinthe when I was writing a paper on Oscar Wilde in high school. At the time, all I knew was that it was a now illegal alcohol that was only available in certain parts of europe. I was curious, but I left it at that. A couple of years later, a friend of mine started making her own steeped version (and yes, in hindsight, it was just a little bitter). She gave me a bottle for my birthday that year, and that was when I truly got interested (I still have the bottle. The message says "a dram of the green fairy for a little black fairy. Consume with caution and a cube of sugar").
After that, I started reading all I could of Wilde, Verlaine, Rimbaud et al; trying to get a feel of the culture that this drink had such an impact on. It was at this time that I also got interested in opium culture, which is still to this day one of my passions.
I had friends that went overseas, and brought back bottles from Prague. I tried it, gasped, and wondered if I'd go blind. Guess what brand it was ; ) Even though it was very, very harsh, I'd taken the plunge. I was obsessed with this drink, and was intent on finding out all I could, and of course owning some of my own.
Many emails and websites later, I got my first bottle of Sebor. Then Deva. I was impressed by the smoothness of the drink, even with such a comparitively high alcohol content, and the mellow relaxed drunkeness I felt. I was hooked.
But to get to the crux of my passion, and the true reason I drink this paticular alcohol, I feel priveledged every time I pour myself a glass of absinthe, because I feel like I'm taking part in the ressurection of a substance that was such a part of the literary and artistic movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and that was denied to the deserving public for almost 85 years. I am truly proud to be an absinthe drinker. And will remain one. I am now, in conjunction with a friend, looking into the Australian legislation to see if we can find a way to start an Australian distributor, as the antipodean population interested in this drink are hard pressed to buy, or even try it, the internet and O.S holidays being the only way. Plus most people don't even realise you CAN get it over the net. So, cross your fingers for me guys.
So, put your hand on your heart, raise your glasses, and shout "Vive la Fee Verte!" It's a beautiful thing.

By Marcellin - formerly James on Saturday, August 26, 2000 - 07:39 am: Edit

I first become fascinated by absinthe from my interest in art. I have always enjoyed the art from the Impressionist - Post Impressionist era. Van Gogh, Gaugin, Degas, Picasso. Also the French poets of that time. Verlaine, Rimbaud, Baldelaire. Of course, most of these artists created pieces, which featured absinthe - my curiosity grew. At this time there was no internet, it still belonged to the military and universities. I gather information by reading the biographies of the great artists and poets. Many years passed and I found myself sitting at a friend house drinking a nice scotch by the fireplace, as the snow fell outside. I made the bold statement that I would find absinthe some day and we would share that bottle. Two weeks later this good friend presented me with the absinthe bible; "Absinthe - History in a bottle". I was more determined then ever to acquire absinthe. By this the internet was liberated for all the good people of the world. I fortuitously stumbled upon this magnificent forum. I promptly order three different varieties from Sprit Corners. Absinthe has now become my drink of choice; it has replaced my beloved scotch. I look forward with lust for the availability of the Ted's absinthe.

Long may my marriage to the green fairy last!
Marcellin (formerly James)

By Domingo on Friday, August 25, 2000 - 08:51 pm: Edit

I was drinking it before I knew what it was. I have friends in that travel to Portugal every year. They brought Neto Costa back one time. The description of purcase in Portugal was that the bar keep blessed himself upon handing it over. We would smuggle the bottles into the back room of the Last Safe And Deposit (local underground bar that hosted local alternative bands) and pass the bottle around until it was empty. It wasn't until years later that I learned all of the interesting history. It has been such a compliment to to wonderful drink. Word to the wise, if you pass a bottle of Absinto around between 4 friends until empty, don't make any plans for a couple of days. French ritual much better.

By The Green Imp on Friday, August 25, 2000 - 05:52 pm: Edit

While I had first learned the word Absinthe as a youngster, seeing it mentioned in an old W.C. Fields movie "The Bank Dick". Curious I asked my Dad what it was, (He was a reference as good as Fields was on the subject of alcohol) he told me that it was banned, and not available here anymore.
That intrigued me, so off and on I would look for information about Absinthe, and read of the old wives tales, and rumors that have gone on for years. I ran into a guy that smuggled a couple of bottles from Spain, when I was about 20 or so....but alas he had already drank the two bottles dry. I did get a good description as to its effects, and figured one day I would get to try some. Fast forward to the internet, and the kid in a candy store availability of information.
Now I have had a couple of different brands of the Spanish versions, and have found the ritual, the antiques, and the experience of the drink, to be the most pleasant of all the drinks that I have found. Now I impatiently await the day that I can experience the replica of the French version, see how much better it may be.
This has been a most enjoyable pursuit, and I hope it gets even better as time goes by.
Regards
Jay

By Marc on Friday, August 25, 2000 - 02:25 pm: Edit

I have always been interested in psychedelics.
I've had a long and rewarding relationship with psychotropic plants and assorted synthetic mind-altering substances. I am also a student of French surrealism. I first became aware of absinthe while exploring the life of Arthur Rimbaud. The descriptions of the effects of absinthe intrigued me. I am always looking for a new drug, a new adventure. This was many years ago. At the time, I had no idea that absinthe was still being produced. When I finally obtained absinthe (Sebors), I was thrilled at the prospect of experiencing something taboo and potentially mind-bending. I drank 2 glasses. This was Christmas of 1998. I went out into the Manhattan night. The streets were rain-slicked and reflecting streetlamps and Christmas lights.
Everything was clear and shimmering. I felt lucid and very alive. I returned to my apartment feeling refreshed and alert. Was this clarity the effect of absinthe or just my mind revving itself up in reaction to finally possessing and drinking the green fairy? Subsequent experiences with a wide variety of absinthes have resulted in varying responses. I generally feel more lucid on absinthe and I do find myself dreaming more vividly. I drank a glass of La Bleue last night before going to bed. I had an intensely erotic and vivid dream. Upon waking, I remembered the dream in precise detail. It was a good one.

After 2 years of drinking absinthe in moderation, I have not experienced anything approaching a psychedelic effect. I enjoy absinthe for it's taste and for it's restorative powers. Absinthe helps wipe away some of the grunge that fogs my mind. It makes my brain squeeky clean.

By Chrysippvs on Friday, August 25, 2000 - 01:07 pm: Edit

O Vae! Meus Grammaticus tristis est...

By Chrysippvs on Friday, August 25, 2000 - 12:26 pm: Edit

I think the first thing that attacted me to absinthe was the NIN video (ok laugh, I deserve it.) With all the fantastic Edward Gorey props I wondered, "What was this anti-freeze Trent is drinking?" Did some research and found the Baggot FAQ and the rest is history. Even now the antiques, ritual ,and the history are my real interests...the drink itself is pleasant but not that but only slightly alluring..

As far as the ban...I was once told a story where a women of nearly 100 refused to go into the absinthe museum of Delahaye. She literally wept with rage saying that it was like "building a memorial to the nazis." It is hard for us to imagine how hated absinthe was..but let me tell you defending the green fairy back in the day was like treason to the French gov't. It amazes me to think about.

Around marble tables one finds the absintheur
Far gone from noble man, a vicious Epicure!

Quod Scripsi, Scripsi

-I

By Billynorm on Friday, August 25, 2000 - 10:02 am: Edit

First, I want to thank Marc & give him full credit for the idea for this post: "What attracted us to absinthe in the first place?"

For me, it's the fact that absinthe is "forbidden fruit." I've sampled (& held, thank you, Neil Young) 6 different brands from the sublime (La Bleue & Segarra, thank you, Justin) to the ridiculous (Sebor). I've drunk as little as one monimette glass a night & as many as my binge of last Saturday night (9 glasses, not that I was counting). The question that I keep asking is, WHY IS IT ILLEGAL? (This is a rhetorical question; I know the history.)

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