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I inherited a large collection of old books from my mother ... and have just started looking through them. Two of them seem to shed a different light on absinthe from the one that I have picked up.

"A wanderer in Paris" by E.V. Lucas is a British traveller's account of Paris, and, based on the 1909 publication date, one would expect it to have at least a passing reference to absinthe. The chapter entitled "A chair at the café de la paix" seemed promising, with reference to the "green hour" in the first line, but it goes no further than sipping an apéritif: no reference at all to absinthe, let alone to excessive drinking of it.

"La Véritable cusine de famille par Tante Marie" was first published in 1921, it seems. I can't find a date in my copy, so let's assume it could be 1921 or any time after. There, in a family cooking book, on page 401, is a list of Apéritifs which reads


Apart from the fact that there seems to be some repetition in this list (unless bitter and amers were two different drinks?), it seemed strange to me to find a casual reference to absinthe here: no suggestion, in or soon after 1921, that absinthe was seen as a demon drink.

Are these books in line with other contemporaneous literature in their reference (or lack of reference) to absinthe in Paris/France in 1909 and 1921 respectively?
I see lots of American cocktail books that call for absinthe, some published as late as the 1930s. I assume there must have been some old bottles still under the counter.

Perhaps some of those recipes from the 1930's were using Absinthe substitutes such as Herbsaint, Milky-Way, and Green Opal.
There is no substitute for Absinthe.
I'd rather drink this than some of the modern brands of absinthe out there.

But then not all absinthe is created equally.

I will give you that, but I insist there is no substitute for Absinthe.
Donnie Darko
There's plenty of substitutes for absinthe. They all suck. Except for vintage Herbsaint.
Hersaint was what it WAS.

At the risk of repeating myself.
QUOTE(G&C @ Nov 12 2006, 08:25 PM) *
There IS no substitute for Absinthe.

What he said.


Of course, I might be influenced somewhat by the ethereal libation I am sipping at the moment, and there is certainly no substitute for that. chickawow.gif
A little history from the early post-prohibition era, when Distilled Verte Substitutes filled the gap.

ABSINTHE originated in Algeria, and was introduced into Europe by the French soldiers. It is a distillation of sixteen herbs, roots, seeds and leaves, including the much discussed WORMWOOD.
Some people believe that Wormwood is a poison. It is no such thing, but is a valuable tonic and stimulant for the stomach--see Webster's dictionary--when taken in such quantities as it appears in Absinthe. It is harmful only when taken in overdoses as is the case with anything.
When genuine Absinthe was prohibitied by Federal Law, J&W developed a non-wormwood product known as MILKY WAY, as a substitute for Absinthe. From this product was omitted only the prohibited wormwood, and the formula slightly changed to replace the wormwood. MILKY WAY can not be distinguished, in taste, even by the greatest Absinthe connoisseurs, from genuine Absinthe. We recommend its use wherever Absinthe is called for.
MILKY WAY is a distilled product, superior to all present day American Absinthe substitutes

While it's hard to beat a decent absinthe for complexity and flavor, there were people here in the U.S. that did a pretty fair job of creating something to bridge the gap.

Yes, vintage Herbsaint is a thing of the past, but then so was distilled absinthe for many years.

But then perhaps vintage Herbsaint, Milky-Way, & Green Opal, (and a few others) have something that are worth looking into, just as some did with absinthe.
But then perhaps vintage Herbsaint, Milky-Way, & Green Opal, (and a few others) have something that are worth looking into, just as some did with absinthe.

How about Ojen? I assume it was more or less just another anise spirit, but since it garnered its notoriety associated with cocktails in New Orleans post-ban, how close then was it to absinthe in trying to fill the void as others that are mentioned here?
Spanish Ojen, or at least the latter version of Ojen from my understanding, was very sweet anise liqueur, and very much unlike some of the better quality verte substitutes that appeared post repeal in the USA.

Sazerac in their pre-Herbsaint days used it in a pre-mixed cocktail.
IPB Image

Another high proof American substitute from a circa 1935 booklet.
IPB Image
An old thread from 2004.
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