People of the Internet, you have been heard!
I had intended this to be a weekend full of absinthe reviews, based on crushing, popular demand for more absinthe coverage, but the overwhelming heat in San Francisco (both yesterday and today were all-time-high record breakers here) kept me off of spirits and into lighter stuff. Finally, the temperature is breaking, and at long last I’m breaking out the first of three major absinthe reviews you’ll be seeing over the next few days.
First up is the French-made Lucid, which was the first major absinthe to hit U.S. store shelves after the FDA rules on wormwood in liquor began to loosen up last year.
With its striking cats-eye bottle design, you can’t miss Lucid on the shelf. Pour a glass and you can’t miss the smell, either. The intoxicating aroma of anise and spice fills the room, overpowering anything else.
Based on how it smelled, I had high hopes for the taste, too. I poured a traditionally-prepared glass (with sugar and water — at a whopping 124 proof, drinking Lucid straight is absolute insanity) and immediately was in for a surprise. The taste comprises less anise than the aroma would indicate. Rather, herbs pick up where the anise leaves off. It’s difficult to pick out exactly what other herbs are used in the creation of Lucid, but they add some complexity here in a category that is otherwise often dominated by overpowering licorice flavor. Still, I recommend going easy on the water when drinking Lucid, despite the alcohol content (which is currently the highest of all mainstream U.S.-available absinthes); otherwise you’ll miss out on some of its more intriguing character.
Lucid surprised me by being a moderately pale yellow in the glass, but fans of the clouding “louche” effect will appreciate how milky it gets when mixed with water and sugar.
Lucid has a reputation, due to its muted anise flavor, for being a “beginner” absinthe, and I can understand that sentiment. It’s enjoyable and even refreshing, and it doesn’t have the overbearing character of liquid licorice while you’re drinking it.