While there’s no canonical description, Absinthe is a high-proof spirit flavored with anise and similar botanicals, the most notable of which are the leaves of Artemisia absinthium, aka grand wormwood. Most anise is green in color, which gave rise to the iconic “green fairy,” which is said to be seen when one consumes the spirit. A psychoactive chemical known as thujone is present in wormwood, and this gave absinthe an awful reputation in the early 1900s, when a handful of drinkers went on criminal sprees (some murderous). By 1915 it was widely outlawed. By the late 1990s a better understanding of thujone (which is present in modern absinthe in only trace amounts) led to these bans being relaxed. In 2007, absinthe was once again legalized in the U.S., opening the door for a rush of hundreds of new brands. Absinthe is properly served by placing the spirit in a glass, then pouring cold water slowly over a sugar cube placed over the glass on a specific type of spoon. Prepared absinthe “louches” by turning a milky white color.

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Review: Obsello II Absinthe Verte

By Christopher Null | June 5, 2013 |

We’ve long since noted Obsello as one of our favorite absinthes on the market. Unfortunately, the American-born, Spanish-made product went off the market a few years ago. But now it’s back, in a slightly revised form. Obsello II looks almost identical to its original rendition, with a few little twists. For starters, instead of being…

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Review: Master of Malt Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Cold-Distilled Absinthe 91.2%

By Christopher Null | December 19, 2012 |

One of Master of Malt’s completely hare-brained sub-brands, Professor Cornelius Ampleforth is the producer of a line of unusual spirits, including this ultra-oddity, an “absinthe” distilled to 182.4 proof. Not a typo. Made in the UK from English wheat and traditional absinthe botanicals (grand wormwood, anise, fennel, licorice) and a number of non-traditional ones drawn…

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Looking for the Green Fairy with an Absinthes.com Sampler Pack

By Christopher Null | December 16, 2012 |

Interested in absinthe but don’t know where to start? With bottle prices that can top $100 a pop, it’s tough to justify the price for a bottle if you aren’t exactly sure what you’re getting in to. Germany-based Absinthes.com attempts to correct that with its collection of miniatures — 50ml bottles of absinthe available for…

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Review: Ridge Distillery Extrait d’Absinthe Verte

By Christopher Null | November 20, 2012 |

Ridge Distillery makes gin and absinthe in the mountains of Montana. This is the flagship, a classic (green) absinthe imbued with grand wormwood, green anise, fennel, coriander, angelica, elecampane, melissa, and roman wormwood — some of which I didn’t have the first idea what they were until I looked them up. Poured neat into a…

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Ted Breaux Absinthes Berger Jade 1901 Esprit Edouard

Absinthe Roundup: Jade CF Berger, Jade 1901, and Jade Esprit Edouard

By Christopher Null | July 13, 2012 |

Absinthe may have been the fastest rising and most rapidly falling fad in booze since Zima (when’s the last time you had a glass?), but let’s not forget our heritage: Absinthe is a spirit of critical import to the history of the (drinking) world, sullied alas by Americans jonesing for modern-day recreations of the stuff…

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Review: Germain-Robin Absinthe Superieure

By Christopher Null | November 8, 2011 |

My, absinthe, what a long while it’s been! Germain-Robin’s Absinthe Superieure (via Greenway Distillers) is a blanche (clear) spirit, distilled not up to a blazing 140 or so proof, but down to about 90 proof, making it perhaps the least alcoholic absinthe I’ve ever sampled. The spirit is infused with wormwood, rose geranium, lemon balm,…

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Tasting Report: Whiskies of the World Expo San Francisco 2010

By Christopher Null | March 29, 2010 |

Was it the crowds (insane), the heat (manageable), or the rumor that some lady had thrown up near the buffet an hour into the event (just gross, yet credible)? Whatever the case this year I found myself not in the whiskey groove at the ordinarily smashing Whiskies of the World San Francisco event. It was…

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Happy Absinthe Day

By Christopher Null | March 5, 2010 |

Yeah, it’s about as made-up a holiday as you can get, but March 5 is Absinthe Day, which means you should be mixing up a little green fairy concoction in honor of the misunderstood spirit. Don’t know where to start? Here are some of my favorite absinthes on the market: Obsello – Spanish. Fragrant, silky,…

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Review: Herbsaint Original

By Christopher Null | February 4, 2010 |

There is one known use for Herbsaint, and it’s a big one: In the classic Sazerac cocktail, in which the glass is washed with Herbsaint before rye, sugar, and Peychaud’s bitters are added. Now Sazerac (the company) is relaunching the venerable spirit with its original 1934 recipe, called Herbsaint Original, aka Legendre Herbsaint. Neither the…

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Review: Ricard Pastis

By Christopher Null | July 14, 2009 |

Today is Bastille Day, and in honor of the French Revolution, the folks at Pernod-Ricard sent us a bottle of Ricard Pastis (and a pétanque set) to help us celebrate. Pastis is an anise-flavored liqueur — not the same as absinthe (but it’s the closest category we have here) since it has no wormwood, but…

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