Five go crazy in Pontarlier

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Thru December 2001: Five go crazy in Pontarlier
By Heiko on Wednesday, December 12, 2001 - 11:43 pm: Edit


you should write something like this more often!
Great story - a little like a Douglas Adams variation of the script for 'conspiracy theory' :-)

By Luger on Wednesday, December 12, 2001 - 12:25 pm: Edit

" So in summary, are you saying, Luger, you don't Hills".

Well, It does create emotions :-)


By Tavarua on Wednesday, December 12, 2001 - 12:20 pm: Edit

So in summary, are you saying, Luger, you don't Hills.

By Tavarua on Wednesday, December 12, 2001 - 12:12 pm: Edit

E-gads there right behind you, on your tail and moving up fast. Your best bet is to duck and cover.

By Luger on Wednesday, December 12, 2001 - 12:11 pm: Edit

"where the hell are THOSE secondary effects?"

In Doktor Magnans brain of course!


By Petermarc on Wednesday, December 12, 2001 - 11:55 am: Edit

-the sound of one hand clapping- the other clutching a glass of l****sinthe...secondary effects! where the hell are THOSE secondary effects?

By Luger on Wednesday, December 12, 2001 - 11:43 am: Edit

5.50 am - Just before dawn.

A man is sleeping. Unfortunately for him, it is not the calm and peaceful sleep that most of us yearn for on a nightly basis. Rather, it is a spasmodic, fitful kind of sleep - a sleep in which the normal process of dreaming is caught up and set afire by demonic maelstroms of dark emotion. A sleep in which flaming nightmares, fueled by secret hungers and hidden fears, ride down helpless ideals of nobility; obsidian hooves churning all that is pure and good into the cerebral mud.

Within the hellified confines of the nightmare, the man walks down a corridor. There are portraits hanging on the walls. Onwards he walks, passing the painted faces of Radomil Hill, Neville Chamberlain, Mario Mayans, Tonya Harding, Mr Starozplensky, Sylvester Stallone, Mr Schultz and Karl Marx. The eyes of the paintings seem to follow him as he passes, their unrelenting gaze boring into his back. Onwards he walks, and behind him the voices start whispering "failure" over and over. He quickens his step, anxious to leave the accusatory glare of the portraits behind him, even more anxious to flee the malicious whispering. Between one step and the next, a ghostly green figure materialises in front of him. Fear and uncertainty cause him to lash out in anger, driving his fist through the chest of the apparition. His action is met with the sharp crack of splintering glass - he blinks, and sees the mirror in front of him, crazed lines of broken edges spiderwebbing out from where his blow landed. He blinks again, and sees a face reflected back at him from uncountable shards. Not a portrait this time, but his reflection, his face. The face of Radomil Hill.

Georg Luger sits bolt upright in bed, bathed in cold sweat, and greets the morning with a scream. Just as he does every morning. He sucks in first one deep, sobbing breath, and then another. He crawls out of bed, and makes his way reluctantly into the bathroom. Hesitantly, he glances at the mirror and once again is certain of exactly who he is...

...for today, at least.

9.00 am - At work.
As he enters the gates of the factory where they make engine ethanole out of fermented clothes returned from the Red Cross, he walks right into the back of his boss.

L: "Hey Luger, you are late, and the toilet is out of paper, see to it that it gets done fast, or else,,,"
GL: "Lola! My little hummingbird, it was not really not my fault, you see, they are so nasty with me at the forum nowadays, please don´t make me visit that doctor again, I'm afraid of his treatment of those poor guinea-pigs!"
L:" Well Luger you were not very energetic in bed last night, I think it would be best for you if you went to see him"
GL:" Yes Darling"

11.00 am: - At the Doktor.
Doktor Valentin Magnan bends over his victim that lies helplessly strapped in chains on the stainless bench, while trying to decide what to do next.
VM: "Oui Luugeer! Ai havve been waiting for yoou, my little friend!"
GL:"Nono! Please doctor, I wasn't really meaning to drink that green bottle, I have no idea how it could be found under my pillow"
VM: "Your brain is a bit sick isn't it, have you had any seizures lately?, well here is the antidote for you!"

The doctor then shoots a large and rusty syringee into poor Luger's forehead, and the green liquid is transfered into his brain:
VM: "Well Luger will you tell me the secret about why Radomil's color is greener than mine? I know that it was you who told him to use Coppersulphide, you just have to confess, and then we can put this all to rest"
GL "NoNONO! I swear that it wasn't me, besides I use Metallic greeen paint from the automotive industry, so it could not have been me, please don´t force me to drink your maceration again!"
VM: "That's it you little creep, I've told you so many times that I don't like to hear you hint about when you substituted the excellent "Hill's" in my bottle with gasoline without me noticing."

Then Luger with all the strength that fear can muster spits out the Green liquor that the Doktor just had forced into his mouth, and it then hits the doktor in his face, and he goes blind,,,forever.
VM: "This is the proof! I knew that Absinthe is harmful!, and now I have proven it" I cannot see! Eureka! I am so happy!"
The doktor jumps up and down with joy. He can already see himself collecting the Nobel Prize in physics, now that he has proven Absinthe to be evil. While he jumps, he stumbles and falls into the bowl with his latest creation, and dies a horrible death.
Our hero Luger regains consciousness after a while and stumbles out to the streets of Paris, where he lies himself down in the gutter, just like any old streetbum, but how foolish those snooty people passing by must be, because from this vantage position you gets to see every little detail of what is underneath the bypassing little ladies' skirts. Some of them wear nothing at all underneath, and I'm the only one that notice!
Ahhh, Absinthe is sure great that lets me see such marvels!.

1.00 pm - police station

Cop: Well Luger, this does look very bad for you. We've discovered that you own a bottle with green liquid that is not banned anymore, but we've also found out that you are a member of a Forum that claims it to be illegal, so therefore the whole French people accuse you of knowingly discredit our infallible French law. Expected sentence is 5 years at a punishment colony at Guyenne. Have you nothing to say?
Well there the guards aren't as nice as I am, the female cop says as one of her boobies pops out of it's hide.
You wanna know what will happen, she says and swings her batoon at the bars? BANG BANG BANG!
That's your future!


Georg Luger sits bolt upright in bed, bathed in cold sweat, and greets the morning with a scream.


There's someone knocking at my door!


Luger kicks out the door, ready to shover the barrel of his 416 up the *** of this evil lifeform that is disturbing this honest mans sleep,

"A package to you from Spirit's Corner" says the postman.
"Sign here please Sir"
Have a good day!

By Petermarc on Wednesday, December 12, 2001 - 03:36 am: Edit

luger, you're freaking me out, dude...

By Luger on Tuesday, December 11, 2001 - 09:27 pm: Edit

Just wait until I make my own Absinthe-trip, somewhere in the vaults of my mind. The descriptions will be like nothing you have ever seen, and the pictures I'll send along will make your hearts stop beating.

Oh, wait, are these pictures really copyrighted by Mr Heffner? SHIT! Oh, well maybe some other time then :-)


By Absinthedrinker on Tuesday, December 11, 2001 - 04:20 am: Edit

two? I could only find one.
(Oh shit!)

By Petermarc on Monday, December 10, 2001 - 03:45 pm: Edit


ok, ok...there were two free porn channels at the hotel, so it wasn't an entire loss...

By Luger on Monday, December 10, 2001 - 10:41 am: Edit

Great story, although the details of the ladies could have been more detailed.

When will you leave for Reeperbahn??


By Petermarc on Sunday, December 09, 2001 - 01:57 pm: Edit

i'll finish this up quick, since it has only taken me two months to do so...i went back to the 'absinthiades' and the place was packed...i felt sorry for phil, who might have sold more on sunday, had he been there, but there was no way to know...after it ended, i took benoît and delphine on a crazy ride into the country-side, on a route i had only been on once, to find my friend louis's house...we were greeted with country-hospitality and an un-expected dinner of my favorite pine-smoked ham and home-made sausage...louis contemplated over a small sample of the vintage pernod, trying to figure his strategy for his own creation...he brought out a gentiane eau-de-vie (which is not at all similar to 'suze' if anyone has tried it) it was distilled in 1985, and the difference between it and one he had done in 1989 was striking...this is where i am definately in the camp of aging absinthe to soften the distilling 'shock'...agnes gave us all small bottles of the '89, along with a doggy bag of ham for me...they are great people, and very true to the country...this is was 9 pm and i still had a 5 hour ride back to paris...i held back on a second degestif of gentiane, and headed out to the car...we said our goodbyes, and ben and delphine followed me to the intersection that would lead them back to pontarlier, me to paris...the ride seemed much shorter in the dark, i had much less to look forward to when i got home...

By Chevalier on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 11:43 am: Edit

Fave Jacobean play: "'TIS PITY SHE'S A WHORE". (See Peter Greenaway for more Jacobean-inspired fun.)

By Etienne on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 11:13 am: Edit

"french absinthe-whores perform felouchio"...

Cool... That's my favorite opera!

By Petermarc on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 05:13 am: Edit

next chapter, french absinthe-whores perform
felouchio, and why exactly, does absinthe
turn a creamy white when tickled slowly by drops of sugar water...

By Petermarc on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 04:00 am: Edit

not a weakness, my friend, just my assumption you knew more english, or well, at least that word...

By Luger on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 02:33 am: Edit

>somehow i didn't think you would need to do a >search on the word...

Nobody's perfect...I appologize for my weaknesses.
Oh, they are talking about bringing on girls with catsuits in another thread. This Forum is gettin better and better, now I only long for the pictures,,,,of some dusty old bottle of course.


By Petermarc on Monday, December 03, 2001 - 04:13 pm: Edit

>And after they left Mr Pernot with his stills, the five went to the local bar where they met five rubbersuited gorgeous girls, fitted with batons and leather whips, and they then went<

luger, somehow i didn't think you would need to do a search on the word...

By Luger on Monday, December 03, 2001 - 09:58 am: Edit

I didn't know what "dominatrix" was, so I made a search at altavista, and found one zillion of hits. Now I've got the general idea :-)

By Petermarc on Sunday, December 02, 2001 - 02:06 pm: Edit

i think it was last used as a school, though it looked like it hadn't been used in some time...for further historical reference (luger) this area seems unusually devoid of dominatrix-types, plentiful in all other regions of france...

By Luger on Saturday, December 01, 2001 - 12:36 am: Edit

Nice shots of the Cusenierhouse, but the house doesn't look very happy?
What is it used for today? Abandoned since god knows when? Or maybe it was *there* you met all the ladies that the photos have not revealed yet?


By Petermarc on Wednesday, November 28, 2001 - 10:19 am: Edit


By Petermarc on Wednesday, November 28, 2001 - 10:18 am: Edit


By Petermarc on Wednesday, November 28, 2001 - 10:04 am: Edit


By Petermarc on Wednesday, November 28, 2001 - 10:02 am: Edit


By Petermarc on Wednesday, November 28, 2001 - 10:00 am: Edit


By Petermarc on Wednesday, November 28, 2001 - 10:00 am: Edit

i think it's safe to say that bottle was drained a long time ago...but, damn, it's pretty...nice still-life, ian...or as the french call it 'nature-morte'...i'll try again...

By Chevalier on Wednesday, November 28, 2001 - 09:51 am: Edit

What a photo -- and what a subject. For almost all of us, it's the impossible dream, but a damned appealing one. Thank you Ian. (Now forget what I said about "impossible" and pass the bottle!)

Really, what's the story behind it? Please reveal what you can.

By Luger on Wednesday, November 28, 2001 - 08:28 am: Edit

I realize that France is still drenched with Absinthe. Bottles of Berger, Pernod, and Cusenier everywhere. The stocks in 1915 must have been unbelievable. Frogs cracking bottles every year and still you stumble over them everywhere,,,

Nice pic though :-)


By Aion on Wednesday, November 28, 2001 - 03:11 am: Edit

what about some tasting notes?

By Artist on Wednesday, November 28, 2001 - 02:16 am: Edit

You're just trying to make us all jealous (and it is working)...

By Absinthedrinker on Tuesday, November 27, 2001 - 11:28 pm: Edit

Let's have a drink while we wait...

By Petermarc on Tuesday, November 27, 2001 - 04:49 pm: Edit

uh, i go to bed now...

By Petermarc on Tuesday, November 27, 2001 - 04:46 pm: Edit


By Petermarc on Tuesday, November 27, 2001 - 04:41 pm: Edit


By Petermarc on Tuesday, November 27, 2001 - 04:33 pm: Edit

back of distillery

By Petermarc on Tuesday, November 27, 2001 - 04:31 pm: Edit

Apparently someone bought the old cusenier distillery in ornans and is going to convert it in to a museum of alcohol…with so much talk about ‘oxygénée’ I had to go see it myself…I was prepared for a trip of gently rolling hills like around pontarlier…after about 5 kilometres on-route, I turned a corner and the landscape opened up into mountains…it was an amazing and unexpected event…I pulled over to look at a plaque along a stone rail…’here , on October 27, 1943 a car with 11 people plunged over the side, 2 survived’…it was a damn-long way down the cliff, the loue river running along the bottom…I wondered if it was better being one of the survivors, or not…it was a beautiful drive, passing through the tiny village of lods, which earned a sign as one of the most beautiful villages in france (there are most likely hundreds of these villages)…I was thinking about how difficult it must have been to get shipments out of this area at the turn of the century…the road opened up to a larger town, almost a city, of ornans…the river runs through it(no fly-fishing, but canoeing seems popular) and little bridges connect each side…it is far more picturesque than pontarlier…I twisted my head back and forth to see the distillery…should be near the river, like pernod, no? I couldn’t find it…it was sunday, and everything was closed…
Except…a small wine-shop along the road…’ring bell to enter’ i rang and a lady popped her head out a window above me…’hello!’ a minute later she opened the door for me and let me in…she obviously lived upstairs…I took a look around trying to find something cheap that I could buy while getting information…it was a scattered place, the kind of shop a like to hang out in, loitering amongst the dust until I find a treasure…I didn’t have time…we chatted a bit
About the town, she had been there for a long time and was retiring this year…the supermarkets were putting little wine shops out of business, they just couldn’t offer the volume discounts…she expressed sorrow about the terrorist attack, even little, far away places like ornans were afraid that something might happen there, the world is small today, and just as unkind as ever…I asked about the distillery…-oh, yes, you passed it…you need to go back and it is across from the ATAC (a French supermarket, probably one that is putting her out of business) it was turned into a convent and then a school, and now parts of it are apartments-…
This was a big place, how could I have missed it? I found something to buy-pine honey…-oh, yes, my cousin makes that, he does another one that is wonderful, but I don’t have anymore-
‘that’s ok, I love pine, and my wife loves honey, this is perfect’…she gave me her card and a list of wines that they were selling off…most were too old to be any good for their type, but it looked good on paper…-we’ll be here until the end of the year-…’i’ll try to make it back’ I knew I wouldn’t , but in my mind, I wish I could have moved there…my wife wouldn’t have approved…I drove back the way I came and parked in the small lot of the ATAC…I walked a little, looking at the building across the street…there were big doors and iron grated windows…there was iron work with initials …two E’s back to back two C’s around them and an O in the center…was it edouard? No, what? I saw the grill work on the balcony E C in the center…then I saw the street sign on the side of the building…RUE EUGENE CUSENIER…
it was easy to miss in the car, because the street was so narrow…this was it…it was huge, almost two blocks which incorporated a 18th century building with a 19th century one…I took several photos, much to the amusement of the young boys on bikes in front of the building…
my time was up…I needed to get back to pontarlier to meet with benoît and his publisher delphine as the ‘absinthiades’ concluded…
down the stree
back of cusenier

By Petermarc on Tuesday, November 20, 2001 - 03:59 pm: Edit

Sorry… lately, I’ve been getting bored just listening to myself think….
Where was I? Ah, thank you ian, for jumping in and trying to make sense of where I left it…
Damn, I’ve been depressed…anyway…a few notes…emile pernot could possibily be the man to make absinthe in pontarlier…I don’t doubt that Françoise guy’s brew will be good, it’s just too close to regular anis… emile seems to be the ‘avis’ to guy’s ‘hertz’…time will tell…they both make ‘sapin’ that I love…it is a distilled liquor from pine buds and branches…it was mentioned a long time ago, when I first professed my love, that distilled pine makes turpentine, and that freaked me out a little..also that the turpines found in it are of the same family as absinthe, which is why van gogh drank his paint thinner when he didn’t have absinthe around…I shudder to think…sapin is is great drink that is sweetened and can be drunk straight or put into a hot toddy, or whatever you think that might be spruced-up(‘spruced-up,’ damn I’m funny) by the flavor of pine…for any of you outdoor types, this is the drink that will give you a woody (ha ha!...ok, i'll stop)…I have just recently found out it is also being experimented with by a distillery in the usa (who’s owner has a fondness for collecting absinthe) well, when you pronounce sapin in French it is ‘sa-pahn’ but when I pronounced it, it was ‘sa-peen’ which means ‘his dick’ so you can see where that gets you in a little restaurant in the French country-side…so, back to the absinthe market, where phil was slinging repro spoons, much to the displeasure of the other antique dealers and the pleasure of those who wanted a neat spoon without paying a lot…it was a nice old, vaulted building, with a few booths and a good number of people looking about…it didn’t take long to get bored and ian had already made his rounds and I was ready to eat…phil couldn’t leave the stand and benoît was signing his new book as well as marie-claude, who surprised everyone by releasing a new edition of the book ‘history of the green fairy’(insert original title in French here) that people have been paying 200-350$ a copy for because there just wasn’t anything else out there that was as good…M-CD’s new book ‘l’absinthe, son histoire’ is really great, lots of good info and pictures, a smaller format than the classic… a must for anyone really into absinthe, amost all aspects of it, who will take the trouble to translate the French text…it can be ordered from frenchman phil, which is easier than getting it directly from the museum, because she does not take credit cards… ian and I went back to our hotel at 2 pm to find that the restaurant was no longer serving…this is saturday, the largest hotel on main street…so we found another down the street, had a quick lunch and decided to visit the pernod site…we headed out of town and went too far…momentarily distracted by an antique shop that had nothing interesting in it, we headed back into town and found the site…de-pressing…a fenced in field with a very modern white block-shaped building and compound…I parked and we walked across the field, toward the river, crossing a main road that takes everyone around downtown pontarlier on their way to Switzerland…there was much more traffic on this road than into pontarlier…we turned and looked, trying to imagine the old distillery…the railroad spur that crossed the river to the site was still there with a sign advertising the ‘absinthiades’ posted to the railing…a big water-tower(?) with a faded NESTLE…ducks swam by…this was the river that ran white, clouded with absinthe in 1901 when the original distillery burned to the ground…there was just no good angle to look at it…it was…uninteresting…we walked back to the field and I had ian take a picture of me for a friend as I toasted the grounds with a glass of hausgemacht…
To embellish a bit on ian’s story, that night when we tried to get into the restaurant, the waiter actually grabbed ian’s absinthe bottle out of his hand and brought it into the restaurant to be inspected…the same waiter we had befriended the night before, angrily stated that the restaurant could be closed for six months if they were caught with ‘absinthe’ on the premises…this didn’t surprise me at all, as ian had said, I could never imagine pulling a stunt like we did the night before, well, anywhere, let alone pontarlier…I tried to explain that absinthe was now legal, but this fell on deaf ears…we were the one’s who were banned…the ‘absinthiades’ were having a dinner and party in the same hotel that night with a ‘spectacle’ and absinthe-period high-jinks…I can’t imagine anyone even sneaking it into the party…we could not attend because the seating was limited to 50 people; all who who most-likely locals…even marie-claude cancelled her reservation when invited by Françoise guy to another private dinner…I was told the party was good, but ‘sans nous’…how good could it be?
We made our way to a little restaurant and afterwards retired to benoît’s room to drown our sorrows in haugemacht, vintage pernod and berger, dom perignon, ravenswood zinfandel, and oxygénée’s south African ballsy pinotage and a chenin blanc dessert wine that needs to be marketed with it’s own beautiful naked women to drink it from…the next day (ouch) phil continued to sell to a much smaller crowd…it looked like it would be a wash-out for sunday…I convinced ian to do some more sight-seeing and we found the road that lead to a hill with a little chapel… it is from this hill where all the photos for the post-cards of the perond distillery were taken …I tried to get some good shots, depressing as it all seemed, with some trees now (thankfully) in the way…from that point one can see several original buildings but it just doesn’t seem to matter…there were gentiane plants in the cow fields that surrounded it…
A bucolic setting, rolling hills sounding the town, cows with big bells clanking, a boom-town back to seed…
I had talked to marie-claude earlier that day, noticing she was featured in the local newspaper’s sunday edition with Françoise guy in his absinthe field…I wanted to get a copy of the newspaper, but the stores that sold them were already closed (it was noon)…’can you visit the field?’ I asked marie-claude…she smiled and turned away to talk to the guy helping her (publisher?) and then turned back and smiled and said nothing…the guy told me,-the field is well known to the locals of the area-…I expected him to elaborate…he didn’t …ok, I guess no one is going to tell me…
After phil and ian had a photo shoot with marie-claude (she wanted to document some pyrogenes and spoons that phil had found that had not been recorded) phil had to cut short the day to take ian back to lyon to catch his plane… we said our tearful good-buys, promising each other we would write, that we would see each other soon, we would be friends forever, knowing in our hearts, that this was it, we had our own lives to live, loves to love…I decided to go out on my own and do some exploring, tried to find the field on my own(hrrruph!)…one of the collectors and benoît had said something about transforming the old cusenier distillery in ornans into a museum…not having any luck finding the ‘secret field,’ I figured I had some time to make a side journey…ornans is about 40 kilometers from pontarlier and one of the prettiest areas I have seen in france….

By Lordhobgoblin on Sunday, November 18, 2001 - 01:38 pm: Edit

"2 weeks maceration in cold ethanol and then extract the charge"

Sounds fucking painful to me.

By Head_Prosthesis on Sunday, November 18, 2001 - 07:38 am: Edit

It's Speech. Maybe you could be Letter_prazthesyz?

Tav you aren't quite the master of syntax errors. We're awaiting that gentle giants return.

By Marccampbell on Sunday, November 18, 2001 - 04:27 am: Edit

I use the hot maceration process as well. Could this be problematic if I over do it? Jennifer enjoys it up to a point. But, she complains when I overmacerate. She gets a little raw..if you know what I mean.

I'm a chronic macerator.

By Timk on Sunday, November 18, 2001 - 04:12 am: Edit

I would presume that JL uses the hot maceration judging from Dons response when he heard of the maceration times for Versinthe. As to whether either way is better, we shall have to wait untill someone makes up two identical batches with the two different maceration methods. Personally, I havent a clue as to whether it would make a tasteable difference, but anything is possible.


By Luger on Sunday, November 18, 2001 - 03:38 am: Edit

>that person
>automatically goes to conspiracy theories. How >many times has this scenerio been disproven >Luger, get over it.

This quote is proof that you work for the government and are probably the sub captain that were aiming your weapon at Kursk, when an Israeli sub was faster at delivering his torpedo, but the Captain of the Kursk cheated and pressed the self destruct button. What has this to do with Absinthe you might ask? Well it is all very clear to me because the body of Elvis was actually found in the wreckage, and now he was seen in eastern france by some credible american tourists.

Why would you deny this if you had nothing to hide?
So it is all your fault! Don't even try to deny it!!


By Tavarua on Sunday, November 18, 2001 - 02:37 am: Edit

Ancle spelled with a K? Now I have heard it all. I decide the ups of downs in grammatical speach. Welcome to Tav's wacky happy world of Syntax errors, starring me, as himself, the hometown boy done wrong.

By Head_Prosthesis on Saturday, November 17, 2001 - 05:23 pm: Edit

T-man, it's ankle with a "k".

By Tavarua on Saturday, November 17, 2001 - 02:00 pm: Edit

substitute her for hear, twice. I'm a dumbass.

By Tavarua on Saturday, November 17, 2001 - 01:44 pm: Edit

O.K., like I was saying, I had hear in a flying v, with hear ancle resting on the leaf blower and the bottle perfectly balanced on her forehead. At this moment, I realized that I still had the other chicky in the Chinese hanging basket to my right. This is where it starts to get a weird. Actually, it's a little to weird for the forum. Best keep it too myself.

By Dr_Ordinaire on Saturday, November 17, 2001 - 01:17 pm: Edit

Sorry, Tav, Luger, to interrupt your "French-girls-drunk-on-Hausgemacht" reverie, can I have a little space to talk shop with the guys? There. Perfect.

Aion, TimK, Zman, Absinthedrinker, just when the poor Doc was running out of arguments to defend his maceration/distillation techniques he found an article by Petermarc about a visit to Versinthe.

To his delight he read that they use EXACTLY the same technique: 2 weeks maceration in cold ethanol and then pressing the herbs to extract the charge before distillation.

What is interesting here is that this process is more expensive than the hot maceration, so the versintheurs must think that it improves the product somewhat.

OK, Tav, Luger, you can bring the girls back...

By Tavarua on Saturday, November 17, 2001 - 09:11 am: Edit

Why is it that everytime someone misunderstands a story in hopes of young beauties huddled in a ball slurping down tasty treats, and then being informed that they obviously don't visit the East of France, that person automatically goes to conspiracy theories. How many times has this scenerio been disproven Luger, get over it.

By Luger on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 09:42 pm: Edit

"I get the impression that you don't visit the East of France that much..."

Ehhh? Who told you that? Seems like a conspiracy :-)


By Absinthedrinker on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 09:09 am: Edit

"I was hoping for a cozy story including several young sweet bodies in a cluster, with bottles of Vintage and hausgemacht stuff in their,,,,"

I get the impression that you don't visit the East of France that much...

By Luger on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 08:59 am: Edit


I was hoping for a cozy story including several young sweet bodies in a cluster, with bottles of Vintage and hausgemacht stuff in their,,,,

Preferably with photos of course.

Well, my moral of the story is that if you cannot speak any French ( As me ) you need to stay close to any french speaking friends you might have.

Cheers: Luger

By Absinthedrinker on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 02:04 am: Edit

Hey Luger where were you hiding, you didn't get any pictures of those rubber suited gals did you? The truth is more mundane although just as surreal. The next evening we turned up at the restaurant en masse, clutching an assortment of Pontarlier glasses spoons and bottles. I walked to the door with a bottle of champagne in one hand and a litre of hausegemacht in the other only to be stopped by one of the waiters from the previous night. He had adopted the demeanour of a customs official and the word 'interdit' kept coming up. Phil, Peter and Ben had somehow contrived to be engrossed in mobile phone conversations so I was missing bilingual support. I turned to Delphine who told me as much as I knew, "he says that absinthe is forbidden." "Ah but it isn't", I said "that is what this whole weekend is about". Well not exactly, bottles of hausgemachten proudly labelled 'Absinthe, 65%' are not legal and no way were we getting into the restaurant with it. This was fair enough, I felt we had been very lucky the night before, I couldn't imagine pulling of the same sort of stunt in a provincial English town. We slunk up to our rooms and drank the Dom, followed by a nice Pinotage from Oxygenee which I liked but which seemed to challenge the French palate, there was also a chenin blanc from the same source and a Ravenswood Zin (or was that the night before?). Of course there was more of the vintage Pernod and a very nice time was had by all. We then repaired to a restaurant where we had the local speciality of potatoes and melted cheese followed by ice cream with a pine liquour 'Sapin'. Peter's pronunciation of this word engendered some confusion in the waitress as he apparently asked for ice cream on his dick (which is not a local speciality), I find French to be a difficult language sometimes. And that is basically it. If there is a moral to the story it is that if you must take bottles of hausgemacht to France don't put labels on them.

By Luger on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 09:28 pm: Edit

And after they left Mr Pernot with his stills, the five went to the local bar where they met five rubbersuited gorgeous girls, fitted with batons and leather whips, and they then went,,,, and that is why we never got to hear the end of the story?

I enjoyed it so far :-)

Cheers: Luger

By Aion on Sunday, November 11, 2001 - 10:30 pm: Edit

I´m quite sure, that the maceration time for vintage absinthe production was 12 +/- 2 hours.
Let´s assume that the working time was 6 am to 6 pm, with no night shift.

If the stills on Frenchman´s site are shown in somewhat correct scale they should have a content of 2000-3000 liters, distilling time could be close to 10 hours or more.

It will take about one hour to clean the stills and fill them with new alcohol and herbs for maceration, as I am almost sure, that the maceration was done in the stills at the time
from around 6 pm to 6 am, when the factory was closed.

So they didn´t need extra maceration tanks, the space for these tanks and there was no need to transport the macerate to the stills.

Seems to be a very economic way of production.


By Dr_Ordinaire on Saturday, November 10, 2001 - 12:15 am: Edit


The Dr, being quite experimental, would be happy to oblige, except that he does not have a reflux setup.

In any case, he believes (and please correct him if he's wrong) that reflux would do in a hurry what a couple of weeks of regular macerating would normally do.

If this is true, then the commercial distillers using heat was just a matter of economics, "cycling" herbs as quickly as possible.

And, by the way, not having a large herbal mass at the end has made me discover something, that I will share in a couple of days. And it's related to thujone, so we may see some fireworks...

By Timk on Friday, November 09, 2001 - 08:51 am: Edit

Would Doctor O consider heating the herbs in the alcohol shortly before distilling his next batch to see if it makes any difference - obviously you would want tostrain the mix before it cooled again, maybe you could just heat it up under total reflux for a few hours prior to actual distillation and then dump the herbs and distill the rest.

By Dr_Ordinaire on Monday, November 05, 2001 - 03:20 pm: Edit


Dr. O has read the Goddess of the Chase's suggestion about peanut oil. Nefarious? Worse. Dr. O thinks this is the most unnatural use of an edible fat since "Last Tango in Paris..."

Just kidding. Of course, he's right. A short time ago the good doctor hosted a "brew-a-deux" for a fellow Forumite. He brought his equipment, which included the oil bath. After seeing it in action, the Dr. prefers his more primitive system.

It's less messy.
After such long maceration(s) and after pressing the shit out of the herbs, there's probably not much good stuff left in them. In that case, putting the spent herbs in the alembic would not contribute much.
His alembic has un unusually thick double-bottom, so there are no hot spots.
He uses such a low heat setting (distilling no more than 200 mL/h) that the dreaded empyreumas have not made an appearence.

Again, the Dr. believes that Diana's system is a better one, with more even heat, closer to what the pros do. At his tiny scale, however, he doesn't think that it would make a difference.

By Zman7 on Friday, November 02, 2001 - 07:19 pm: Edit

Dr. O,
You might want to suggest to your friend the virtues of the "nefarious uses of peanut oil" as has been mentioned on this forum several months ago. My friend who hausgemachts has had excellent results, and no burned herbs. Also he reports easier temperature control.

By Dr_Ordinaire on Friday, November 02, 2001 - 05:39 pm: Edit

"Dr. O, are you soaking the herbs in cold ethanol, removing the herbs and then distilling the liquid?
As far as I have been able to gather you should leave the herb mass in the still during the distillation - this would make a substantial difference, as for the duration of the distillation, the herbs have been sitting in hot ethanol. "

Timk, my friend Dr. O macerates the herbs for over a week (usually far longer than that, his "production schedule" being quite relaxed) then he adds water and the blanquette from the previous distillation, lets it sit another 48 to 72 hours, then extracts the charge with the help of an herbal press.

Once he actually weighed the herbs before and after the maceration, to see how much ethanol remained in the herbs. He doesn't remember the exact amount, but it was not something of concern for a Hausgemachter.

The reason he's concerned about putting the herbs in the alembic is that his recipe calls for a LOT of herbs, so much so that, before they are extracted, the herbs fill 80 percent of the container. It seems to him that so much herbal mass in the alembic (after part of the liquid has evaporated) may lead to uneven distribution of temperatures (i.e. burning). He does not have a steam-heated alembic.

By Absinthedrinker on Friday, November 02, 2001 - 02:47 am: Edit

Here are a couple of thoughts to ponder on. If you soak your herbs in cold ethanol a point of equilibrium will be reached when no further oils can dissolve, that might be 12 hours or 20. Doing this with hot ethanol will speed up the process but the ratios and compositions of oils should not differ. So if your charge is saturated with oils at its boiling point there should be no logical reason to keep the herb mass in. However it is not quite that simple because when the water is added to the charge prior to distillation the equilibrium changes and some oils will be precipitated out whilst some previously insoluble compounds will now dissolve. The latter can only happen if the herbs are still in the charge. Does this make any difference to the end product? That is the $64,000 question (well, one of them)

By Timk on Friday, November 02, 2001 - 02:12 am: Edit

Dr. O, are you soaking the herbs in cold ethanol, removing the herbs and then distilling the liquid?
As far as I have been able to gather you should leave the herb mass in the still during the distillation - this would make a substantial difference, as for the duration of the distillation, the herbs have been sitting in hot ethanol.

By Timk on Friday, November 02, 2001 - 02:09 am: Edit

"Macerate the ingredients with the alcohol for
twelve hours or less in a double boiler, then add 45
liters of water heated to 60-80 degrees, and distill
slowly, preferably with steam, to obtain 95 liters of
product which will be used to prepare the liqueur. "

Courtesy Artemis and Phil

By Artemis on Thursday, November 01, 2001 - 07:28 pm: Edit

"...the herb mass being reused, but only to avoid wasting the alcohol it held..."

Unlike sparging, I suppose, where you're trying to wash all the yummy hoppy goodness into the batch?

The aim of sparging (for non-brewers, that means washing the malted grain with extra water after the initial charge of water is drained into the boil kettle), is indeed to get the most out of your malt. But it was historically done for financial reasons - a large brewer can’t afford to get less than the most out of his malt. In other words, he’s not going to throw away any sugar with the spent malt if he can help it.
As a homebrewer, I eventually gave up sparging, because the few extra specific gravity points of sugar you get as a result aren’t worth the risk of a tannic-tasting batch from overwashing the malted grain. Easier to use a couple of extra pounds of malt and forget about sparging. See the articles in the Home Brew Digest archives by George Fix relative to no-sparge brewing for more malty flavor.

I should not have said the herb mass was “reused”. Rather, it was kept and squeezed like a sponge (or centrifuged, or decanted, I don’t know what the technique was) strictly to get the *alcohol* out of it for reuse. I’m sure the soggy herb mass was thrown away.

“Extracting with cold ethanol is different from extracting with hot ethanol, isn't it?”

Utterly different.

“We should be getting a different end result.”

Definitely different, but it seems I was misunderstood. I never said anything about cold ethanol. What I meant was, the ethanol being held by the herbs left in the bottom of the still (it was of course NOT boiled dry), which was substantial for a distillery the size of Pernod (we aren’t talking about a dinky two-liter home batch with a few grams of herbs here) was recovered and used in subsequent batches, because they could not afford to waste it by throwing it out with the herbs.

I won’t comment on varying from the ancient ones, but I did get an amusing comment privately from one who ought to know, and I told him I thought it was time for me to butt out of this, so I will. Those who seek will find. Or maybe not.

By Dr_Ordinaire on Thursday, November 01, 2001 - 02:27 pm: Edit

Errr...if the Ancient Ones were correct, then moi and a bunch of Hausgemachters are wrong.

Extracting with cold ethanol is different from extracting with hot ethanol, isn't it?

We should be getting a different end result.

By Bob_Chong on Thursday, November 01, 2001 - 02:07 pm: Edit

"...the herb mass being reused, but only to avoid wasting the alcohol it held..."

Unlike sparging, I suppose, where you're trying to wash all the yummy hoppy goodness into the batch?

By Artemis on Thursday, November 01, 2001 - 01:02 pm: Edit

" ... put the ethanol with the herbs' good stuff and you distill it, and then repeat the process with a new batch ... "

The stuff I've read doesn't describe it that way, but the descriptions don't exactly *preclude* such a process, either. There is explicit mention of the herb mass being reused, but only to avoid wasting the alcohol it held, the alcohol being more dear than the herbs, which were by comparison cheap and plentiful. Also, the alcohol was more heavily taxed. The less of it they had to buy, the better, so they tried to squeeze every drop into a sale if possible.

By Dr_Ordinaire on Thursday, November 01, 2001 - 12:26 pm: Edit

What I thought was that there was a "batch distillation" (you put the ethanol with the herbs' good stuff and you distill it, and then repeat the process with a new batch) and the "continuous distillation" (I don't have any idea how this one works.)

Usually, I would be uneasy about displaying my ignorance in front of this learned audience, but I'd try to think of this as a good example for Hausgemachters: "You don't have to know a lot to make good stuff..."

By Artemis on Thursday, November 01, 2001 - 11:38 am: Edit

"I had no idea there was a "traditional distillation" that included the herbal mass."

There was no other kind of traditional distillation (i.e., they ALWAYS put the herbs into the still) as far as I have been able to determine.

By Dr_Ordinaire on Thursday, November 01, 2001 - 11:17 am: Edit

"(Since they use traditional distillation without separating the herb mass from the charge)"

Thanks, Absinthedrinker, I had no idea there was a "traditional distillation" that included the herbal mass. That's why the entire thing seemed like a moot point to me.

Now, since all the good stuff has been extracted from the herbs by the end of the maceration period, does anybody know why the herbal mass is still included in the distillation process?

By Tabreaux on Thursday, November 01, 2001 - 09:22 am: Edit

"Now I cannot personally see how heating a source of lignin at under 100 degrees celcius in alcohol would produce methanol but that is their belief."

That seems to be the sticking point for me as well. If the lignin degenerated, it would seem that one would expect to see a visible degeneration and/or discoloration of the structure following distillation.

In a paper mill, lignin is torn apart in aqueous solution, but it requires high temperature and pH, the resultant being 'black liquor'.

By Absinthedrinker on Thursday, November 01, 2001 - 08:46 am: Edit

OK, this was passed to me by a non-chemist translating from French. But the theory seems to go that if you put whole star anise into the still you are including the woody 'star' surrounding the seed. That is the source of lignin and cellulose which, in theory, could form methanol. (Since they use traditional distillation without separating the herb mass from the charge). This belief is not limited to M Pernot either, if I recall correctly the Versinthe back label has 'extract of badaine' listed separately from the other plants which are distilled together. Now I cannot personally see how heating a source of lignin at under 100 degrees celcius in alcohol would produce methanol but that is their belief.

By Dr_Ordinaire on Thursday, November 01, 2001 - 08:33 am: Edit

Yes, Absinthedrinker, I'm aware that methanol is produced by the destructive distillation of wood.

But my point is, since lignins aren't soluble in ethanol, they are not going to be present in the alembic.

Therefore, there must be another reason for not using badaine.

By Artemis on Thursday, November 01, 2001 - 07:36 am: Edit

One or more of the old French texts I've seen alleges that the Pontarlier distillers didn't use star anise because they believed it was harmful to health, but no details were given.

By Tabreaux on Thursday, November 01, 2001 - 07:20 am: Edit

Unless I am missing something obvious, none of this makes any sense to me.

By Absinthedrinker on Thursday, November 01, 2001 - 02:42 am: Edit

Lignins aren't soluble in ethanol. I think his point was that since methanol was originally produced by the destructive distillation of wood having a source of lignins in your alembic might not be a good idea. I wouldn't have thought it a problem unless you boiled the charge dry but then again...

By Dr_Ordinaire on Wednesday, October 31, 2001 - 09:53 am: Edit

"and here is M Pernot explaining to Peter why Badaine is BAD. Something to do with the lignins in the woody outer husk (the star) forming methanol during the distillation process which is why it is often added as an extract after distillation"

Are lignins soluble in ethanol?

By Wolfgang on Tuesday, October 30, 2001 - 10:09 pm: Edit

M. Pernot, the man with the silver balls !

By Absinthedrinker on Monday, October 29, 2001 - 02:14 am: Edit

good old image posting hassles


By Absinthedrinker on Monday, October 29, 2001 - 02:13 am: Edit

and here is M Pernot explaining to Peter why Badaine is BAD. Something to do with the lignins in the woody outer husk (the star) forming methanol during the distillation process which is why it is often added as an extract after distillation.

(unfortunately I don't have the picture of his silver balls)


By Absinthedrinker on Monday, October 29, 2001 - 02:06 am: Edit


By Petermarc on Sunday, October 28, 2001 - 05:51 pm: Edit

I want to point something out now, as I have been asked…the visit at pontarlier-anis (hither-to known as ‘P-A’ for brevity) was like a visit to a winery in the napa valley…very general and touristy…the simple fact is, I don’t believe they expect you to ask technical questions about production methods…and unfortunately, I’m not the person to do it…the only ‘artist’ in our group did not speak French…and I, am a consumer…I love to eat and drink very good products but get lost when these things get broken down in to measurements, technical jargon, and the such…I just want to taste and have everything get broken down into flavor crystals and pleasure degrees…couple this with a not-so-perfect command of the language, and you have my generalizations of situations that I throw back at you two to three weeks after the fact, and at 1 or 2 in the morning…and I don’t think François was so keen on giving away trade secrets, either…the hausgemacht and jade I have tasted from far and wide are actually more interesting…it is the difference between doing it as a business and doing it for fun…if you can do both, well… can you do both, don?
Benoît almost whispered to me on the street; listen, the pernots are not like François, they are very shy people…uh, ok, I pictured a little old couple with a small still, couple of barrels and bottles…we rounded the corner marked by the sign ‘DISTILLERIE Les Fils d’Emile Pernot’
I was not expecting much…it is pretty much lost in status behind P-A in pontarlier and P-A is almost non-existent outside of the town…I had found ‘vieux pontarlier’ the pernot’s anis, in the best wine-shop in paris, and figured that meant something…but when tasted, I preferred the P-A, and pretty much set the place aside as second-rate…my friends, louis and agnes were waiting for us…the building looked big, but hidden…it was 11:45 and they would close at noon for lunch…I figured this wouldn’t take much time and we would be out of there…the front door opened to an office occupied by two young men, mme. Pernot and emile IV…how can I help you? mme. Pernot quizzed…benoît explained our group and mme. pernot told her husband she would show us around…no, emile said, I’ll do it…we entered in to a large room with barrels lining one wall and bottles another, with a table in front of them…emile pointed us through another door, which opened into a very large room with a still in the center, against a wall…it was an odd set up, much different than P-A , in that there were two huge silver balls that were attached to the still (for recirculating, redistilling or something like that…maybe phil or ian has some photos, mine were lost in an accidental erasure incident)…the still was not elegant like P-A’s, but more technical…it was made in 1948…we threw some questions at emile as he explained a bit of his technique and showed some of his raw ingredients like absinthe, green anis from spain and dried pine branches and gentiane…obviously, he doesn’t make just anis, in fact has a huge variety of products…his absinthe was flowered, unlike P-A’s…I do not know where he said he got his absinthe from, but will state the following…andy bought absinthe in Barcelona, and was very disappointed with the final product…I found plants in the Spanish pyrennes and believe there is a major difference between Spanish absinthe and French …just the ‘terrior’ the growing climate, heat, soil and altitude should and most likely, do, make a difference in the taste of the plant…
Emile did not talk much about absinthe, as he does not have a final product or even a label…
He did explain that his ‘vieux pontarlier’ was made without star anis, which he also believes creates a bad, wood alcohol, when distilled…his base alcohol, like P-A, is beet alcohol, which he buys, already distilled…it apparently is the cleanest he can get and has no flavor, unlike wine spirits…this would account for the distinct flavor of segerra…the ‘vieux pontarlier’ is, in fact a newer product , but I don’t remember when he said they first started making it…there was another anis, the ‘fils d’emile pernot’ which has a more classic, absinthe-like label…this is and older product and differs in that it has licorice added…this is also interesting, in that, when thoroughly analysing haut-doubs #9, ted came to the conclusion that a primary ingredient was licorice, which is supposed to be in pastis, in-fact, is what is supposed to separate pastis from absinthe, amongst other things, such as maceration, no absinthe, etc.etc…I’m going to go out on a limb to say that licorice was put in some, maybe several period absinthes…I had talked about this with benoît and my local friend, who distills himself…not that this is right or wrong, but it just is…after our tour, we walked up to the tasting table…bottles all around, but my eyes fell on the hand-written label ‘absinthe 45°’ …emile asked us what we wanted to taste…ah, the absinthe, of course…it was light yellow in color, apparently no coloring had been done, but it had set in a barrel for a while…barrel aging seems to be the norm for any well-made absinthe in that it gives the absinthe a chance to clarify, drop some particles and tone down the metalic flavor from the still…this also may be partially responsible for the ‘dead leaf’ tint, which is not bright emerald green, but more yellow-green…minimum is that it sit in some large bottles, called bonbons, so it can settle down for a while…this was common practice in the past, and much was shipped that way, bottles being expensive, heavy and fragile, and then the absinthe was bottled by the merchant or even at the sight of purchase…(this has been brought up before, I’m sure)…much more spicy than P-A absinthe, not unlike, of course, the anis…it was more complex than P-A, and in my opinion, a better product…without really taking time to sit down with it, it is hard to say much more, other than the low alcohol, that I see as a problem for it to be like a high-quality original…it is not certain, when or if emile will market it…I asked him if he had ever tasted vintage berger…no…would he like to?…sure, a taste…I pulled out a small bottle I had in my bag, and poured some into a small glass…he sniffed and tasted…ah, something in the taste…yes, licorice! Mme pernot thought so, too…the young men joined us, who were the sons of the son of the sons of emile pernot …they sniffed, too…but didn’t take a drink…I brought the small glass to my friend louis, ah, yes, licorice…

By Petermarc on Friday, October 26, 2001 - 04:18 pm: Edit

no, not at all...just being cheeky...i am humbled by the fact that anyone would compliment my writing style, and buffer it with attempts at making fun of myself...
btw...vera, you still have not confirmed a new address...

By Verawench on Friday, October 26, 2001 - 01:54 pm: Edit

PM, Was that sarcasm?

Btw, this is going up on the Emerald Quest, folks - WITH paragraph distinctions!

By Petermarc on Friday, October 26, 2001 - 10:51 am: Edit

'thank you'

By Morriganlefey on Friday, October 26, 2001 - 09:55 am: Edit

Another great account Petermarc. The mind reels with the possibilities - if only American cops drank absinthe instead of smashing donuts down their gullets....

(Oh, and tho it makes for an eye-strainingly large paragraph, I for one really enjoy your stream-of-consciousness writing style, thoughts separated only by "..."!!)

- M

By Petermarc on Thursday, October 25, 2001 - 03:43 pm: Edit

About 10 minutes of walking and we were at the distillery…it is nothing fancy…in fact there is no way you would know what it was without the big sign on the front…I had been there before, and knew which door to go into…straight to the absinthe stills…they are very impressive and it is fun to see the liquid running out of the little pipe at the bottom, into a plastic jerry can…françois guy was there…benoît introduced himself and explained who the group was…they were about to turn on the canned ‘pontarlier-anis’ absinthe story recording they play for tourists who visit, but François took over the show…he explained a bit about the stills, a bit of history, a bit of technique…it was all very general, he was nice about it, but seemed a bit preoccupied…ian and i took some photos, and we made our way into the tasting room…there is one thing I must say about the pontarlier-anis distillery…it seems to be the place to be, at least on saturday morning…it was the same the last time I was there…the tasting room is more like a free bar, that, if you know the right people, you can hang out at, and have
‘un pont’…there is always something happening, bottler going, people moving boxes, taking orders, an animated area…François offered to sample some of his products…anis with sugar, without, gentiane, sapin (pine liquor)…he had a large bottle with a regular label on it…do you want to try the absinthe?…of course, we were interested…I believe marie-claude showed up at about this time…he poured some glasses and I was distracted…I thought it was green, like the anis, and ian told me it was clear…this is what you get from starting to drink at 10:30 in the morning…what I can say is, that it didn’t matter…45° and a taste that is almost identical to ponatarlier-anis…François stated-- after all, what is absinthe? An anis drink with a bit of absinthe in it…I didn’t follow his logic…absinthe is so strong that you don’t need to put a lot of it into a liquor, but to say that the liquor is absinthe-flavored anis is pushing that a bit…he was following his grandfather’s recipe, except that the absinthe had the thujone reduced and the alcohol level was reduced…I guess it is time to say that you have a new recipe…it will be released for Christmas at 300 francs a bottle (pontarlier anis goes for about 130) I was underwhelmed…I mean, yes, it is a good tasting drink, but no, it ain’t what we’re all looking for…guy had his balls tied and was hobbling around to make the dance work…maybe this was exactly what his grandfather’s recipe was…well, how much pierre guy absinthe stuff have you seen around? This is a local drink…it is almost impossible to find it outside of pontarlier, and I imagine, the same could be said for the original…not that it was bad, but that it was not well known for some reason…what can be said is that it is an enjoyable product…period…I was waiting for my friend who had found me the haut-doubs #9 to show up, he said he would meet us there…François was in a hurry to meet up with marie-claude…then the cop showed up…full uniform, looking serious, walking straight in to the tasting room, looking around, marching up to the bottling line, looking in the back for something…then he turned around, heads to the tasting table, grabs a bottle of anis, and pours himself a drink…you all have seen the photo…surreal…in the usa, we got the donut shop, in pontarlier, you got the distillery…ian and I both took photos, not believing it was happening…this obviously happens all the time…
we headed outside where François was loading up his car and ready to take off…we hit him with a few more questions about harvesting and his absinthe field…it was planted from seeds and harvested once this year…but it could have been harvested another time…this is all confusing and maybe it is better just coming with pre-prepared questions and drill like a journalist, but what fun would that be? I don’t remember much else of great importance that was learned…guy headed out and as we were about to leave for the next distillery, louis showed up with his wife…I told them to meet us at the emile pernot distillery…we crossed town and phil was ready to head back to the market…he needed something to eat and ducked into a shop…it was the last we saw of him…

By Petermarc on Tuesday, October 23, 2001 - 04:03 pm: Edit

the only big sign in the whole town...ironically
(or not) placed on the non-used, dedicated railroad track heading into the nestlé/pernod complex, which was never moved...

By Absinthedrinker on Tuesday, October 23, 2001 - 02:29 am: Edit

"If you live in London, you may see the green La Fee double decker driving by."

I live in London and I've never even seen a bottle of La Fée outside of Gerry's...

By Bjacques on Monday, October 22, 2001 - 09:13 pm: Edit

If you have the current ("Retreat") issue of The Idler, you'll see photos of a visit to Mme. Delahaye. Pontarlier is close to the place they stayed. La Fee is one of the Idler's sponsors. If you live in London, you may see the green La Fee double decker driving by.

By Petermarc on Monday, October 22, 2001 - 05:18 pm: Edit

however, delphine was ready to do a little learnin’…so we brought out what we had at the restaurant, and went through it again, painful as that may seem…ben is an art historian and is interested in the cultural and artistic aspects of absinthe, along with not having a problem with having a full glass…we made sure they both tried everything, including some hausgemacht that I had not brought out downstairs…I think delphine was a little blown away by our enthusiasm, or maybe just tired, since we were in the room until 3 am…I was sure we would piss other people off in the hotel, but could never figure out if, in fact, there were other people in the hotel…the halls were always dark and I never saw anyone else…I know marie-claude was in the same hotel, but not where...a gentleman who knew her came up to the table at the restaurant and said he was locked out of his hotel…’ah, yes, they told me here that if I didn’t get the key by 11 pm, the hotel would be closed’…no, the man said, I have my key but the front door is locked, I can’t get into my hotel and I already have a room!…keep in mind, this is friday night, downtown pontarlier at around midnight…paris, it ain’t…we looked over benoît’s new book, which is ’an illustrated anthology of the best literary texts about absinthe.’ It has marc almond (soft cell) on the cover in top hat with glass and bottle, looking like a cross between dr.jekel and manet’s ‘the absinthe drinker’ accompanied by wacky plastic skulls floating around him…a date-line history with snippets from time-periods and years relating to absinthe, artists, quotes and events along with a index of books, museums,articles, and liquors commercially available that are similar to/or absinthe…very well done and interesting, but in french…
phil, the ever-so-vigilant, reminded ian he had to get up early, and delphine was down for the count…we packed up and went to bed…the next morning, I was light sensitive, but ready to go…phil and I couldn’t wake up ian (it turned out we were knocking on the door to his empty room) so he headed down to the antiques-area (I really wouldn’t call it a flea-market) and, after wandering around outside a bit,i rejoined phil and found the back dining room where breakfast was served …ian was at a table and marie-clude was seated at another with a gentleman I thought I had seen before, but did not know…MCD complained of having a head-ache from last night and I offered some french fizzy aspirins, but she already was armed with some… we sat about a bit, it turned out that not much could be done to set up, as far as phil was concerned,and the market did not start until 1pm…the latest I have ever seen a market open in france…benoît and delphine came in and we made plans to join them to go to the distilleries, after they had finished…we popped into the antique store across the street, which had a very nice selection of rarer items, along with some questionable ones, an etched bottle, an absinthe junod carafe, a light green etched carafe, glasses, plates, spoons, and two pastis fountains, all at a price range i like to call ‘painful’…the owner would not sell any absinthe item until 1pm! The same time that the absinthe market opened…his shop was open though, and it was possible to buy other things…there was fresh drool everywhere, and this guy would not take a franc until 1 pm…we left to check out the room for the sale, and there was nothing going on, nor could I get in…so we went back and looked in the antique store window just as marie-claude was handling a bottle…I told her later that we could not buy anything until one pm…she told me she did…ah, for a little clout in this town!
We grouped up with ben and delphine and headed for the pontarlier-anis distillery by foot…

By Petermarc on Sunday, October 21, 2001 - 04:44 pm: Edit

we offered marie-claude a glass, and she only wanted a small taste, opting for the cheap wine glass on the table as opposed to a pontarlier glass…she was not a absinthe drinker,
but a taster…ian already described what she had tasted, and seemed impressed by the hausgemacht…we offered her a taste of the berger, which, I believe, she had never tried…she asked me if I had ever tried La fée…I had already discussed this with her at the museum, when I criticized the color, she had told me she was thinking of suggesting they change it…in her new book, she explains that it is made near paris, by the same distillery that made la cressonnée, an absinthe made from a base of water-cress, that also made a pastis after the ban.
She explains that it follows the European laws for limits on thujone, etc. and is made from grande absinthe imported from Italy. Then she says it can’t be sold in france because it is 68°
and has no sugar. ‘comme la vraie.’ like the real thing… huh ? I know the label doesn’t conform to French law, but the 68° and no sugar thing…damn this is complicated here…
MCD ( as she is known) was interested in the spoon collection, and gave her opinions and doubts…I pulled out a few of my own which were not very interesting to her…I am convinced
some have dates on them, but people tell me they’re control numbers…yeah, control numbers for the date. It was a nice experience having her with us, interesting discussing the absinthe and spoons…Benoît Noël walked up behind me…say are you all interested in tasting some absinthe in my room after you’re done here? It was about 12:30 or so, I believe…’uh, sure, you’re going to be up?’ yeah, I’m here with my publisher, we’re in room number 12…ian was all for it…that’s why I came all this way, was his reponse,…though phil looked a little tired, to our great pleasure, seemed game…Benoît left…there was a change in attitude with MCD…you know Benoît? Is he a friend of yours? It is at this point, dear readers, that I must leave out the conversation that followed, because I like and respect both MCD and Benoît Noël, and it pains me to see them not get along, considering their history together, what they helped create for everyone who is interested in the history of absinthe. Of course, they’re not the only ones, but presently, they are the best known in france and aside from barnaby conrad in the us, who seems to have lots of other interests besides absinthe now-a-days…they have their own paths to follow…we finished our session as the restaurant closed…the waiter asked what it was we were drinking…absinthe…oh, isn’t that illegal?… ‘no, they changed the law back in 1988’ I weasel-worded…ah…strong, though? ‘Yes’…it was as cheerful as the waiter had been all night…I thought we had made a new friend…we went up to Benoît’s room; where he was joined by his publisher, Delphine, who was not very acquainted with absinthe, other than his new book, or absintheurs…

By Petermarc on Sunday, October 21, 2001 - 04:05 am: Edit

sorry to have cut off the story there, but i accidentally erased the second part last night...i also did this to 150 photographs on my digital camera at pontarlier..d'oh!

By Petermarc on Saturday, October 20, 2001 - 06:12 pm: Edit

I know now why i don’t have a car in paris…1 ½ hours to drive from the center of town to the
freeway is painful…I have no fond memories of rush hour driving from Oakland to san jose and then to south san francisco and back when I lived in the bay area…10 minutes from apartment to job by metro is ok by me, except my job is turning me into a zombie (albeit, a psuedo-french one, if that is any consolation) so a five and a half hour drive after work into the country by freeway that seems free(except for the tolls) is like a taste of freedom…there were no notices about the ‘absinthe conference’ to be held friday night on my ‘pontarlier absinthiades’ flyer I picked up in boveresse, so I didn’t ask for the day off…I made my prescence known by phoning phil three times as I was speeding my way there…phil whispered into the phone, I’m at the conference…’where is it?’… it’s at the college…’where’s the college?’ I can’t really give you directions, just come into town and try to find it…’what’s the name?’ I forgot…’ok’…
I called him two more times before I got into town and could tell he was embarrassed because his phone was going off during the speeches, his whispering getting more annoyed…I was pissed that I couldn’t make it…as I arrived at the hotel, phil called me and asked me where I was…I waved to him from the car…I parked and said hello to him and ian…the conference had just ended…’did I miss anything?’ phil said it was interesting and ian acted like it would have been interesting, had he understood anything that anyone was saying…I was starved…’did you guys eat anything? Well a little off the buffet at the conference, but they could eat, plus, there was absinthe to sample…phil got the ok from the waiter at the hotel restaurant for BYOB…he just expected us to buy some food…I put my stuff in the hotel room
(the hotel was closed, if I hadn’t gotten my key from phil and ian, I would have been on the street) phil and ian return from their rooms with glasses and bottles…I can’t believe they’re going to let us drink our own absinthe in a restaurant in downtown pontarlier…we go to a back table and set up the bottles (there are three, a vintage liter bottle of pernod, a blanche
with homemade label NOT decreet with fairies, ABSINTHE, 65°, swiss cross, everything you would want on a label for absinthe, IF it were legal where you were drinking it, and a verte in a smaller, unlabeled dark green bottle) glasses (all pontarlier dosed style, fucking nice) and an assortment of spoons that were a collector’s wet-dream …we ordered some food, the ‘assiette anglais’ which was a cold cut platter, and some bottled water…the waiter seemed amused but not surprised at the set up…a pontissalienne dealer I had traded a lot money with was sitting right behind us….he noticed me and quickly sat next to me with his little dog…I need to talk with you!…’ah, hey! nice to see you!’ then he realized he was sitting next to phil and looked at the collection of spoons and glasses…oh! excuse me!…he got up and went back to his party…I thought he was coming back, but he didn’t…then I realized that he thought a big sale was going down with us and phil and didn’t want to intrude(or, if he thought I would buy all of what was presented, I sure as shit wouldn’t have any money left for him)…we proceeded to sample, the pernod, a first for me, and to tell the truth, it didn’t knock my socks off…it is very good, but I have now developed a taste for ‘artisanal’ products…I compare this to my love of Californian wine, so over-done, so in-your-face with French wine, which can be so banal (the term ‘finesse’ is used often by the French) almost all the time by itself, but rocks with food…most hausgemachts have little ‘finesse’ but I have grown to prefer it…this comparison will reach into commercial absinthes of pontarlier, later…fortunately there is more of the pernod for a future tasting, where we can talk more of it, instead of the atmosphere surrounding it…oh, you wanted me to talk more about how certain absinthes tasted? frankly, I can’t remember…happy to be of help…
we were having a nice little dinner/tasting when phil saw marie-claude come into the restaurant…then he said she was coming over to our table…I got up when I saw her and said hello, as we all did, and I gave her a kiss on each cheek(any excuse to do this is good enough for me, I think it is fun, but a little weird when guys want to do it, but, what the hell, try that with a guy in the us and see what happens)…she( I don’t believe so) didn’t recognise me at first, and then said…oh, from the museum! She sat down with us, but was not hungry…the waiter asked her what he could get for her and she explained that she was just visiting, that she was fine…the waiter did not seem happy…

By Artemis on Saturday, October 20, 2001 - 10:29 am: Edit

Maybe that was the source of the "heated discussion" between her and Peter! I await the photograph of Delahaye using an "Ouvrage #2" on him in a most novel and untraditional manner.

Seriously, someone has claimed here that unspecified forum members take Delahaye as the Bible when they agree with her and say she's wrong when they don't.

I don't remember anybody here seriously questioning anything in her books except occasional fairly minor errata. But "her" absinthe is an entirely separate matter that may or may not have anything to do with her books. I think the distinction is obvious.

And for what it's worth, I think La Fee is far and away the best commercial product, no matter how it's colored. But it could be so much better!

By Dr_Ordinaire on Saturday, October 20, 2001 - 10:05 am: Edit

I know that Madame Delahaye has become something like the Mother Teresa of absinthe and people may be reluctant to put her on the spot, but has anybody ever asked her how can she endorse as "authentic" an absinthe like "La Fee" that is artificially colored?

By Petermarc on Saturday, October 20, 2001 - 05:29 am: Edit

madame delahaye is not, as she told me, an 'absintheuse'...i think this need to be cleared up as the absinthe 'flowing' was into my and ian's glasses, with a bit less to phil and a very, very small amount to MCD,and that gave her a headache the next is obvious to me now that if you drink good quality absinthe in larger quantities,without mixing other drinks with it, you will not have this problem...well, maybe not...

By Petermarc on Saturday, October 20, 2001 - 05:27 am: Edit

now phil,
that was just mean posting those pictures...i have been in posting purgatory for a couple of days now, and this is what happens...damn, i'm scary

By Frenchman on Friday, October 19, 2001 - 10:41 pm: Edit


Thank you very much to Ian to relate this fabulous absinthe trip !!

I took few pictures, have a look to to see only ones i have....


By Absinthedrinker on Friday, October 19, 2001 - 08:02 am: Edit

Well Peter seems unusually shy about continuing the story so I will round off the events of Friday night. After Benoit's conversation with Peter, the former left and a heated discussion took place in French between Phil and Marie-Claude and then between Marie-Claude and Peter. Unfortunately as I had only completed the first two modules of my French Intermediate evening classes I was unable to translate much of this and so focused on keeping my glass topped up with absinthe. I was able to observe that both the Pernod and the Berger had penetrating bouquets which hung in the glass. The Berger has something on the nose that Peter describes as talc and which I compare to iodine (I almost wanted to say iodoform but that gives the wrong impression), it is distinctive but I can't pin it down. It was interesting to compare the two hausgemachten with the venerable older brothers as it to some extend enabled one to separate the odours associated with the fresh herbs from those which were the product of age. Eventually Marie-Claude left and after another animated discussion between Peter and Phil, the three of us repaired to Benoit's room. I think Peter may have brought along a bottle of Ravenswood zinfandel (or was that the following night?) anyway I think that it was around 3.00 am when I hauled myself to bed. As I left Phil reminded me that we would be leaving the hotel at 8.00 am to set up for the flea market.

By Absinthedrinker on Friday, October 19, 2001 - 02:28 am: Edit

Here are some pictures while we are waiting for Peter to continue the story...

Pontarlier 2001

By Timk on Thursday, October 18, 2001 - 02:07 pm: Edit

Oh ffs : - ) - is this thing on next year, im definitely up for it then : - )

By Wolfgang on Thursday, October 18, 2001 - 10:16 am: Edit

I hope she will be there in Auvers sur oise when I will visit her museum next month...

By Don_Walsh on Thursday, October 18, 2001 - 04:32 am: Edit

I like the Madame DelaHaye better and better.

By Absinthedrinker on Thursday, October 18, 2001 - 03:50 am: Edit

The first thing to tell you is that Pontarlier is a long way from anywhere, particularly anywhere that you might want to visit. I know that for folks in the US jumping in a car and driving for 5 hours straight is probably not a big deal - you probably wouldn't get out of state in that time - but us Brits can actually get somewhere in that time, halfway across the country in fact. Pontarlier is quite an unremarkable town set in some truly beautiful countryside, you can hear sound of the cow bells all the way into town - and cows are novelty to Brits right now what with les folles vaches and le fièvre aphteuse. I arrived with Phil in the mid afternoon and after downing a glass of Ponsec each we went to visit the museum which has a couple of rooms dedicated to absinthe. The collection is not a large one but does have some interesting items such as the melted bottles brought out of the Pernod factory after the fire.

You would not have known that there was an absinthe festival on if you were relying on signs to inform you. The meeting of the philately society the following week was well promoted with banners across the main street, but there was a definite reticence on the part of the locals to publicise the absinthe festival. So much so that we couldn't find the hall where the evening discussions and lectures took place and eventually had to be let in through the back door of the building and led towards the hall by the caretaker. There were four panelists including Marie-Claude Delahaye and Benoit Noel and the discussions covered the history of production and consumption, the medical effects and the place in art and culture. The meeting was naturally conducted in French so a lot of points drifted over my head, however the slide shows were nice.

After the meeting Peter arrived after a marathon drive from Paris badly in need of refreshment. We returned to our hotel where we ascertained that it would be acceptable to consume our absinthe from our own glasses in the hotel restaurant. The three of us repaired to a table at the back of the restaurant, a high ceilinged Belle Époque dining room which seemed very fitting for the occasion. We were armed with a bottle of vintage Pernod fils, a sample of vintage Swiss Berger and two hausgemachten, all to be served with Pontarlier glasses and a set of breathtaking spoons; La feuille, La Joanne, Toulouse-Lautrec and two previously unclassified rareties Picture of spoons. There was surprising little attention paid to our activities as we poured our way through the collection of absinthes. The vintage Pernod was divine and the Berger powerful with a very long lasting bouquet in the glass. Shortly after eleven o'clock we were joined by Mme Delahaye who despite rumours to the contrary does consume alcohol, including absinthe, but only in moderation. She drank small samples of all the absinthes on the table including the hausgemacht - which she pronounced to be very good, and had another glass. The spoon collection was analysed in some detail and the previously unidentified ones photographed for cataloguing. More absinthe flowed and it was around midnight when we were joined by Benoit Noel.

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