Review: Mata Hari Absinthe Bohemian

Mata Hari absinthe is an Austrian spirit, distilled (per the bottle) from the original Belle Epoque recipe from 1881. Of course, the actual Mata Hari would have been just 5 years old at the time the recipe was created, so we’ll assume the recipe came first, the name came later.

Made with Grand Wormwood and Salvia, Mata Hari is considerably less intense than many of its counterparts. The anise flavor is — intentionally — played down in this absinthe, so if you’re looking for something more herbal, less licorice, this is a good one to try.

At 120 proof, it’s heavily alcoholic among its counterparts, and with sugar and water it louches only moderately, still somewhat transparent lightly bluish-green rather than completely cloudy. The nose is moderately full of anise, but there’s virtually no licorice on the palate. The sugar in the preparation is up front, followed quickly by the flavor of dried herbs in a kind of chalky texture. The finish is surprisingly bitter and lasts moderately long, perhaps more bitter than any other modern absinthe I’ve tried to date. After finishing a glass I was extremely glad to be drinking it as a digestif, after dinner. It’s much too bitter to work early in the evening. Maybe adding a second sugar cube would help if you demand your absinthe to be sweet, but even with the bitterness is still pretty easy-drinking.

Mata Hari and others have suggested using the absinthe as a traditional mixer, with suggestions for blending it with everything from Champagne to Coke. I haven’t tried any such concoctions yet, but it’s certainly on my to-do list.

B+ / $55 /

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15 Responses

  1. Iknowsit August 6, 2008 / 3:10 pm

    Tried it. Loved it.

  2. grin August 9, 2008 / 5:50 am

    I have tried 2 or 3 of the ones on your list. Lucid, Kubler, and now Mata Hari. Lucid and Kubler have the typical high level of anise flavor – very nice. Mata hari has a more balanced flavor which is more to my liking. I like you an a novice to Absinthes.

  3. Taste Tester November 5, 2008 / 8:38 pm

    When I mixed it with water it was quite bad. I have tried many and this was possibly second to worst. I tried mixing it and, surprisingly enough, it makes a very good mix. The bitterness is complimentary. Lemon and soda and flavored sodas are best. It louches better also. From 1 to 10, i give it a 3. If you have never had Absinthe try Lucid. It is very much middle-of-the-road, great quality Absinthe. My favorite? St. George Absinthe Verte wins hands down, but it is not for everyone.

  4. Christopher Null November 5, 2008 / 8:47 pm

    Curious what your WORST pick was. Are you adding sugar, Taste Tester? Or just water?

  5. busta February 3, 2009 / 11:36 am

    Le Tourment Vert is also a good absinthe…it’s smooth and great as a mixed drink

  6. hexegon February 3, 2009 / 11:41 am

    very interesting

  7. Jerome February 3, 2009 / 3:56 pm

    Its bomb with sugar too

  8. caysie February 3, 2009 / 4:31 pm

    isn’t that what the absinthe spoon is for? Putting the sugar cube on it and melting it into the absinthe by pouring water on top of it. Seems like so much fun to mix!

  9. Krissy February 5, 2009 / 12:23 pm

    Yeah that is what the spoon is for. It’s actually a cool process.

  10. drinkydrink February 5, 2009 / 3:36 pm

    im a have to try that out, real talk

  11. Gregg July 18, 2009 / 3:24 pm

    Just tried this one. On my second glass. The bitterness that you’re tasting in this one is wormwood. I’m not an “expert” but, the wormwood is what is contributing to the bitter taste of this one. My first louche was with 1 sugar, 2 to 1 water absinthe. That’s when I realized this one is better served with 2 sugar cubes to cut through the wormwood. However, it is in my opinion, thin on the palate, which is probalby due to a low concentration of anise/fennel. At least it’s not completly medicinal. Overall I like the “experience”, and it actually louches fast.

  12. Gregg August 2, 2009 / 8:27 pm

    After experimentation this one is better served mixed. I don’t like it traditional, and the label on the back of the bottle states that it should be served as a coctail. I cut the bitterness out by louching it with Red Bull and a cap or two of Creme de Menthe, and it was good like that. As an Absinthe I would rate it thumbs down.

  13. Gary September 15, 2009 / 2:45 pm

    Just tried this one too. My first Absinthe. Didn’t expect it to be so bitter. Added some sugar and Pepsi. Didn’t mind it after that. Haven’t tried water yet, still on my first glass.

  14. Jonathan July 2, 2010 / 1:33 pm

    Yaknow, this is the first absinthe I tried and didn’t even know about the sugar thing. Took it straight in a shot, and was one of the best shots I’ve ever taken. Lol. The bitterness did not bother me one bit, only the slight burn, but that’s expected with 120 proof haha

  15. Capital Drinks August 7, 2010 / 7:08 am

    Is Mata Hari absinthe actually made in USA?

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