The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'absinthe'
Hot Topic goth rocker Marilyn Manson (he's like the Pete Doherty of Red State America, or perhaps the Tom Cruise of Satanism or something) has recently launched his own brand of absinthe, which is apparently on a par with his music:
So did Mansinthe have what it takes to be a premium absinthe? According to the tasters, the answer is, sadly, no. The No. 1 problem was the aroma, which some verbally compared to sewage water or swamp mud, but with the exception of a lone taster, the panel felt it wasn't really worth wading through the odor to get to mediocre flavor anyway. Sorry, M.M.Which is missing the point; this is not a product for connoisseurs in any sense of the word, but for unsophisticated teenage mall-goths rebelling against their stolidly Bible-believing, Satan-fearing, Republican-voting parents and church groups. As long as it looks and tastes unlike anything familiar and the label could be mistaken, with sufficient ignorance, for something exotic and sophisticated, any subtlety would actually be counterproductive; something that tastes shocking and vile would actually fulfill its role as a prop of commodified rebellion better.
Between the time absinthe was banned in the early 20th century and when it was (accidentally) legalised in the EU in 1988, the details of how to make it were lost. That is, until a microbiologists from New Orleans reverse-engineered it, using samples from old bottles and a mass spectrometer::
Breaux explains how the testing works. He takes a bottle of the liqueur, inserts a syringe through the cork (absinthe oxidizes like wine once the bottle is open), and extracts a few milliliters. He transfers the sample into a vial, which is lifted by a robotic arm into the gas chromatography tower. There it is separated into its components. Then the mass spectrometer identifies them and measures their relative quantities.
Breaux wasn't the only one rediscovering the long-banned beverage. In Europe, food regulations adopted by the EU in 1988 had neglected to mention absinthe, and when they superseded national laws, the drink was effectively re-legalized. New distilleries were popping up all over Europe, selling what Breaux dismisses as "mouthwash and vodka in a bottle, with some aromatherapy oil." Absinthe had disappeared so completely for so long that no one knew how to make it anymore.
At the EASI lab, Breaux ran tests on the pre-ban absinthe samples, as well as on samples spiked with thujone (from the very bottle I had sniffed). This allowed him to isolate the toxic compound. He spent his free time studying the test results, and late one night in June 2000 he had his answer. "I was stunned. Everything that I had been told was complete nonsense." In the antique absinthes he had collected, the thujone content was an order of magnitude smaller than Arnold's predictions. In many instances, it was a homeopathically minuscule 5 parts per million.After debunking the widespread belief about thujone being the key ingredient differentiating absinthe from ordinary alcoholic beverages, Ted Breaux went on to use his knowledge to create a variety of absinthe named Nouvelle-Orléans, which went on to win awards. Despite its name, Nouvelle-Orléans is made in France, as absinthe is still illegal in the US (and, by the sound of it, as difficult to get hold of as marihuana).
"It's like an herbal speedball," he says. "Some of the compounds are excitatory, some are sedative. That's the real reason artists liked it. Drink two or three glasses and you can feel the effects of the alcohol, but your mind stays clear - you can still work."
(via bOING bOING)
This article debunks some myths about absinthe, the fabled madness-inducing demon drink. If is to be believed, there is no such thing as "real absinthe". Oh, and what you heard about modern legal absinthe being so lacking in thujone as to be nothing more than overpriced yuppie liqueur is only half-true. It is true that thujone is limited, but apparently vintage absinthe contained much less than the myths would suggest, and thujone's psychoactive properties were largely mythical; then, as well as now, the absinthe mystique was born mostly of self-delusion and pretentiousness:
Drinkers of today's absinthe who expect a unique mind-altering experience usually are disappointed. Yet recent tests indicate that absinthe contains at least as much thujone today as it did during La Belle Époque: Turn-of-the-century Pernod Fils absinthe had six milligrams of thujone per liter, substantially less than the 10 milligrams permitted by current European Union rules in countries where absinthe is legal.
King of Spirits Absinth boasts "100mg of psychoactive thujone," the sort of claim that is mocked on La Fée Verte, which dismisses the "glorious descriptions of absinthe highs in 19th century literature" as "so much flowery hot air." Although "thujone is assumed by modern-day druggies to lend some sort of buzz," says the site, "it does not."The absinthe-connoisseurs' site in question is here, and contains detailed reviews of available absinthes and information on the substance in general. Some of the things revealed are that absinthe isn't necessarily meant to be bitter, and most of the trendy Czech absinthes (and, indeed, anything whose name is spelled "absinth") are of dubious quality at best.
An interesting page on the history and chemistry of absinthe. Apparently many of the so-called absinthes which are now legally obtainable contain little or no thujone (the active ingredient), and are basically nothing more than extremely expensive alcohol containing green food dye. (via bOING bOING)
Some 80 years after being outlawed, some say as the result of a conspiracy of winemakers, absinthe is once again legal in France. And this is the real thing, so beloved of the likes of Baudelaire, Toulouse-Lautrec and Alfred Jarry, and not the allegedly inferior Czech variant. The first bottles are expected to appear on shelves by Christmas.
The memory of absinthe is remarkably green. People still tell the story of the day in 1901 when one of the biggest distilleries in town caught fire. Fearing an explosion, a quick-witted worker opened the vats. The river Doubs ran green for hours and the soldiers from the garrison rushed to the water's edge to lower their helmets and drink their fill.
I wonder whether they'll sell it over the Internet. (via Lev)