Tuesday, August 25, 2009

No. 1: Absinthe Drip


I started my posts with the drink on the list that was first made (oldest) and followed it with one of the first cocktails I ever had at Anvil. For post number 3, let's take a look at the first drink on the alphabetized list, Absinthe.

While prevalent enough in popular culture that most people seem to be at least vaguely familiar with "the Green Fairy," the notorious beverage is commonly, mistakenly believed to still be illegal in the US. In 2007, Lucid Absinthe was approved for legal distribution in the US, and this broke ground for other brands to eventually make their into American bars.* Thujone, the chemical in wormwood long blamed for absinthe's apparent psychotropic affects, is regulated in modern absinthes, although arguably the spirit's high alcohol content is the real culprit.

The absinthe drip that the List refers to is the traditional method for serving absinthe. A sugar cube is placed on a slotted spoon (often specially designed for this purpose) and then balanced on the glass full of liquor. Then cold water is dripped onto the sugar cube, dissolving it into the absinthe. This process not only dillutes the alcohol but causes it to become cloudy (see the first picture).

Absinthe drip
An absinthe fountain

Lucid Absinthe
Lucid absinthe, with an absinthe spoon and partially-dissolved sugar cube

Not everyone who tries absinthe is especially fond of it. Its strong anise flavor (the same as black licorice) is off-putting to many people. In its undiluted state (I had a taste this afternoon) it is almost unbearably harsh. No small number of drinks on the List include absinthe as in ingredient, including the Sazerac, which is served in a glass rinsed out with absinthe. Whether you enjoy it or not, however, you should take any opportunity to try this culturally-weighted spirit if for no other reason than to say that you've had absinthe.

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