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.

Top Absinthe Posts:

Does Absinthe Make You Hallucinate?
Absinthe Cocktails Featuring Lucid
La Fée Absinthe Parisienne

Review: Obsello Absinthe

By Christopher Null | August 5, 2008 |

I love getting a sneak peek at stuff before it hits the market, but it’s even better when the stuff is good. Obsello, come tomorrow, will be the first Spanish absinthe for sale in the U.S., and even then only in San Francisco. (New York is coming soon.) Obsello’s Joanne Haruta (pictured) is in town…

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Review: Mata Hari Absinthe Bohemian

By Christopher Null | August 3, 2008 |

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…

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Review: La Fee Absinthe Parisienne

By Christopher Null | July 18, 2008 |

This new kid on the U.S. market arrived on our shores only a month ago: La Fée Absinthe Parisienne was the first absinthe to be commercially produced (starting in 1998) since the country’s ban of the spirit in 1915. Absinthe purists will appreciate its grand wormwood base, but the bright green color (yep, that’s the…

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Review: St. George Absinthe

By Christopher Null | June 23, 2008 |

The first (and, perhaps, only) American absinthe on the market, St. George Absinthe is arguably the best absinthe going today. If you can find it (and afford it), you’ll want to snap it up. First off, it’s greener than Lucid and far more powerful in flavor. While the nose is equally anise and room-filling, on…

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Review: Kubler Absinthe

By Christopher Null | June 22, 2008 |

Kübler is the next big name you’ll find on liquor store shelves in the newly budding absinthe section. Made in Switzerland, it’s 106 proof (comparably light for absinthe) and unique in one particularly (and uniquely Swiss, reportedly a means of end-running the absinthe ban of that lasted there for about 150 years) way: It’s nearly…

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Review: Lucid Absinthe

By Christopher Null | June 21, 2008 |

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,…

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Review: Distillerie Vinet-Ege Le Tourment Vert Absinthe

By Christopher Null | December 18, 2007 |

From French brandy distillery Vinet-Ege comes a new entry into the “with wormwood/thujone” absinthe market, Le Tourment Vert. “The Torment,” when it arrives on our shores (any day now) will be the fourth such absinthe to hit the market here. It joins Lucid, Kubler, and St. George, all of which are slowly, tentatively finding their…

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