Thursday, March 06, 2008

Absinthe--quick, write a book

…Don Mayhew, writing in the McClatchy Newspapers, says absinthe is back. This is the weird, cloudy green drink so beloved of Hemingway and the debauched writers of Paris in the 1930s.

….It tastes like licorice laced with bile. The ritual is legend--you either set it on fire with a sugar cube or mix it with chilled water over a sugar cube.

…Uh-oh, that does sound a little entertaining. Actually, the original stuff had been banned since early last century. Apparently, the banning started when some Swiss guy killed his pregnant wife and two kids in 1905 after drinking absinthe (and enough other cocktails to stun a wildebeest).

…Well, absinthe does contain a powerful hallucinogenic called thujone, contained in wormwood. But, you can still buy the wormwood in health food stores.

…Pretty soon, though, Pernod was all that was left of “the devil’s cocktail.” (It’s also called “the green fairy.”)

…But it never really died out. And now, our friend the internet has jumpstarted the absinthe game again. Check out

…The federal ban on it has been lifted.

…So now some bars serve it. You need a special spoon, described as a trowel with holes in it. The spoon goes on top of the glass, the sugar cube goes on the spoon, then chilled water is poured over the cube into the liqueur, forming a cloud called a louche. Louches should be neither too thin or too opaque.

…Five ounces of water are poured. Then you are all set to write The Old Man and the Sea.

…Or barf. And this stuff probably doesn’t improve with use as it wends its way back up.

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