Tuesday, September 28, 2010

La Fée Verte

Long a thing of mystery and fear, I had the opportunity to try absinthe while in New Orleans at the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street. They serve it three ways, generally; traditional style, in a mojito, and as a frappe. I had the classic preparation and the wife had the mojito.


I did not see the mojito prepared, but I believe it was a standard recipe, save the rum was replaced with absinthe, or else absinthe was added.

For the classic preparation, a shot of absinthe is poured over a sugar cube atop a slotted straw. The sugar cube was lit on fire, and allowed to burn for perhaps 30 seconds. Water (I believe) was then poured over it, melting the sugar into the absinthe, giving it a milky appearance, much like unfiltered sake.


Absinthe has a strong anise/licorice flavour. Very strong. Unfortunately, this is one of my least favorite flavors. Due to the high alcohol content (up to 148 proof) I decided not to just knock it back like a shot. The mojito had a slightly better taste, but the anise was still quite strong. Between the alcohol and the flavor I will admit to getting a bit of a retching feeling once or twice; this was my first drink of the day and perhaps an hour after a meal.


This is the scary part for many. Wormwood, one of the ingredients in absinthe, is a poison and reputed to have psychoactive properties. I don't know how the wormwood content of today's absinthe compares to years before its ban. I did not experience anything hallucinatory at all. It did, however, make me feel quite mellow without feeling quite drunk, nor sleepy.


Not a bad starter, especially if you are not a party-hard kind of gal/guy like myself. I believe my drink was $28, or there about. We had the mojito, the classic, and an Abita draft, and our bill was $44. Not cheap. It definitely packed a punch, but due to the taste it will be unlikely that I try it again. I think we mainly tried it for the notoriety. From Hemingway to Handler, absinthe has been part of my consciousness and I felt it necessary to at least try the stuff. Also, despite the bar being the Old Absinthe House, we were the only ones to partake. We received at least one startled look from a Dewars drinking youngster which was worth the bad taste.


Tenebrous Kate said...

My fave place for absinthe in New Orleans is Pravda on Decatur Street--it's quirky and has a great weirdo contingent that hangs out there! At $15 for an absinthe prepped in the classic fashion, it's hardly a bargain, but well worth adding to your checklist next time you're there.

I found that absinthe was the ONE thing that was more expensive in NO than in NYC (where it's semi-recently been legalized). The Baron's a HUGE fan of the stuff, but I'm with you--that licorice flavor is way more than my delicate palate can handle :)

Darius Whiteplume said...

It is legal here in NC, but I am not sure it actually contains wormwood (which would just make it really bad tasting rum, imho). Not sure if there are any bars that serve it here, but likely in Raleigh or Charlotte. I think we passed Pravda. Perhaps next time.

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