Absinthe Made legal again in US

By ticketmaster · Dec 31, 2007 · ·
  1. ticketmaster

    Absinthe fans can go mad this New Year's

    Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

    Monday, December 31, 2007

    The Green Fairy is back.

    Blame Johnny Depp's dazed bathtub scene in 2001's From Hell for making absinthe popular. Blame the fall of the Berlin Wall for making it available. It was the post-Soviet Czech Republic that gleefully jumped on the absinthe manufacturing bandwagon.

    The Czech stuff is noxious, according to connoisseurs. But now that the Food and Drug Administration has determined there's little chemical basis for the milky green drink's reputation as a hallucinogen and aphrodisiac, a 95-year ban on imports has been lifted, and French and Swiss absinthe is trickling into South Florida - both legally and illegally - just in time for New Year's Eve. This holiday marks the first New Year's absinthe can be legally served to partygoers. They appear to be ready for a sip of the spirit.

    "It has been picking up a lot of steam lately," says Lee Schrager of Southern Wine and Spirits of America Inc., a Miami-based national distributor that sells Lucid, one of the three absinthes allowed by the FDA.

    "As you talk to people about it, it's surprising how many people have tried it or how many people have a bottle for special occasions," says Mike, a West Palm Beach professional who asked that his full name not be used. That's because Mike is among those who use the Internet to buy absinthe from other countries, versions still outlawed in the U.S.

    Made (in)famous by artists

    The lurid reputation and strange appeal of wormwood extract and anise dates to 19th century France, which produced a bumper crop of artists and poets devoted to the spirit: Manet, Degas, Baudelaire, Rimbaud.

    Manet painted an infamous oil of dazed absinthe drinkers. Toulouse-Lautrec carried a bottle in a hollowed-out walking cane. Oscar Wilde compared it to a sunset. Later, Picasso created a statue in its honor. Ernest Hemingway wrote about it in The Sun Also Rises and smuggled it into his Key West home.

    At one point, absinthe was the drink of choice for the working man in France, threatening to usurp even wine. But in the public's mind, it came to be associated with the decadent and self-destructive artists who sang its praises. When Van Gogh took a knife to his ear, prohibitionists declared it was the direct result of an absinthe binge. "If absinthe isn't banned, our country will rapidly become an immense padded cell where half the Frenchmen will be occupied putting straitjackets on the other half," declared one leader of efforts to bar the liquor.

    The scientific issue behind the ban was whether wormwood extract's key ingredient, thujone, caused hallucinations and eventually madness. The U.S. decided it did, banning the spirit in 1912.

    Chemist: Danger unfounded

    It's T.A. Breaux, a Louisiana chemist who spent his days hunched over a microscope and his nights bartending, who has brought it back, starting with a casual remark made in the early 1990s.

    "I was working in a research lab in New Orleans when a colleague of mine made a passing comment about 'the green liqueur that made people crazy,'" Breaux says. He tracked down pre-prohibition bottles of the spirit in 1996 and analyzed the ingredients. There were only trace levels of thujone in this classic brew. By the time you drank enough to risk hallucinating, you would already be dead from alcohol poisoning: Absinthe can be 144 proof.

    The finding prompted the Food and Drug Administration to open the door to U.S. sales of the liquor months ago - but just a crack. Only three versions are sold legally, and they can be hard to find. Even the storied Leopard Lounge in Palm Beach doesn't serve the spirit. "There are no requests," a spokeswoman says.

    Entrepreneurial Czechs are partly at fault. After the Cold War thawed in the 1990s, they started manufacturing absinthe and selling it in Canada and other countries where the liquor was never outlawed. Their version serves up an unusual taste experience, says Breaux: "Window cleaner. It killed the market."

    Preferences vary

    There are local fans, lured by the classic versions now available, or the mystique, or a little bit of Hollywood. Absinthe has shown up in such movies as Moulin Rouge and From Hell, where purists were enraged when absinthe was lit up and doused with laudanum before being drunk.

    "We bought a case," says Ted Keer, co-owner of Delray Beach's Falcon House. Patrons don't expect opiates, but lighting up a sugar cube on a spoon atop the spirit has an appeal.

    "It does taste very similar to Pernod," says Southern Wine and Spirits' Schrager. To some, the anise resembles black licorice. And the alcohol content is so high that by a second sip, Mike says, "My tongue is numb."

    Connoisseurs claim the liquor offers an especially clear, if brief, high. "That was our inspiration for naming ours Lucid," says Breaux, who teamed with Viridian Spirits Co. of New York to produce an absinthe precisely cloned from the pre-prohibition liquor, and the only one distributed by Southern Wine and Spirits.

    Breaux is quick to add that all drinks create different sensations. "I've heard of more people having hallucinations on tequila," he emphasizes.

    But the spirit, still smuggled into the U.S. under the FDA's radar, retains its dark reputation.

    On Web sites, "you can get it with a higher alcohol content or with a higher thujone content," says Mike, who prefers more thujone. The illicit bottles delivered by courier to his front door from France, Switzerland and England.

    The West Palm Beach man is hardly alone. Absinth24.net offers more than a dozen Christmas specials to U.S. customers, including one set packaged in a silk replica of Van Gogh's Starry Night. Bottles are ranked by "effect." Some add fruit flavorings, and some omit anise altogether.

    That's near sacrilege to Breaux. "Anyone can put green garbage in a bottle," he says. "But once someone has enough information to grasp it, to understand it, well, absinthe is very popular for a reason."

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  1. fnord
    wow,i never thought id see something banned declared legal! maybe this is the start of a new trend? hahaha i doubt it.
  2. Zentaurus41
    Swim came to the USA with his bro, who had some of the real chek absinthe, but we got pulled and searched. The border police made swims bro pour it all away.
    though this was in NY airport.
  3. nEone
    ^^In SWIM's opinion, the customs agent did SWIY a favor - the Absinthe from the Czech Republic is almost uniformly absolutely vile.

    It should be interesting to see how the new brands market themselves - and what kinds of "underground" campaigns are run to promote this as a new "legal hallucinogen". The companies won't be able to directly allude to it - US label policy is very strict - but there will no DOUBT be a massive online and word-of-mouth campaign that furthers the myth of the Green Fairy that drives men mad and produces vivid hallucinations, now brought to you by Budweiser.

    Rule of thumb - if the bar serves it as a shot or if anything is set on fire - run away. SWIM has seen this stupid tradition from the bars in Prague make its way to the trendy goth bars in Los Angeles that have been serving Absinthe "under the table" for the past few years. It's almost always Sebor's Strong brand - which is notorious for selling itself based on its "high thujone levels". Total waste of time.

    The new bottles that are for sale at SWIM's local wine importer are selling for $60 a pop. As he still has a bottle he brought back from Pontalier, he's not at all inclined to drop that kind of cash.

    It's a pity that the article doesn't mention which three brands are currently allowed to be imported.

    Also note that there is a product called Absente (clever) that is Absinthe made WITHOUT the wormwood (Not the same as Pernod, which is often called that, but is a different recipe altogether). It was made as a kind of interim substitute. It was popular in the UK for a while before La Fee and other brands made headway there. SWIM's local liquor store has carried it for several months and is selling it blindly as authentic Absinthe.

    T. Breaux has been a champion in the effort to legitimize the drink and undo decades of lies and misinformation perpetuated by the French wine industry. He's a good guy and I hope he makes a fortune for all of his work.
  4. fnord
    ^yea your much better off making your own.
  5. umbra1010
    SWIM is jumping for joy. Always wanted to try absinthe and now he can.
  6. fnord
    youve always been able to try it,i would suggest ordering from a online source that sells one with a high thujone content or making your own instead of trying the new legal stuff
  7. fnord
    Absinthe Returns

    It was the drink of choice for 19th century painters, poets and writers.

    Vincent van Gogh sliced off his ear while sipping it, Edgar Degas and Pablo Picasso painted it, French poet Paul Verlaine cursed it as he lay dying in his bed.

    For nearly 100 years, the United States and many other nations banned it.

    Absinthe. "It leads straight to the madhouse or the courthouse," declared Henri Schmidt, a French druggist urging his own countrymen to outlaw the green liquid in the early 1900s, which they did.

    Now it seems that no one can remember exactly why it was prohibited. Some say it was the chemical thujone found in the herb wormwood, used to make absinthe, that affects the brain. Others say it was a plot by the wine industry to put the popular spirit out of business. And there are those who believe it was a case of baseless hysteria, not unlike "Reefer Madness," the 1936 propaganda film about marijuana.

    Earlier this year, a lone Washington, D.C., lawyer took on the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in an attempt to lift the ban. After some legal wrangling, the agency agreed - with some limits.

    Last week, St. George Spirits of Alameda received the news that, after seven applications, the federal agency had approved its label, the final obstacle before going to market. On Monday, the small artisan distillery sold its token first bottle, becoming the only American company since 1912 to sell absinthe in the United States. Then the staff took a moment to celebrate.

    "We made champagne and absinthe cocktails, which rapidly degenerated into just sipping absinthe out of the bottle with crazy straws," said Lance Winters, a 42-year-old master distiller at the seven-employee company.

    For 11 years Winters experimented, adding a little of this and little of that. No matter how close he came to perfection, each new batch had to be dumped down the drain to comply with federal dictate. But come Dec. 21, St. George will begin selling 3,600 bottles of its Absinthe Verte. That's too few to distribute to big chains, so for now the company will offer it at its Alameda tasting room and at limited liquor stores for $75 for a 750 ml bottle.

    The 25-year-old company, started by Jorg Rupf, a German distiller who moved to the Bay Area to attend law school, is most known for its Hangar One vodka, but it also makes single-malt whiskey, grappa and a number of eau de vies.

    From the beginning, absinthe was Winter's baby. The brewer-turned-distiller liked the challenge of blending his grape-based brandy with locally grown herbs like wormwood, absinthe's most important - and controversial - ingredient, plus tarragon, basil and mint. Winters also uses anise and fennel.

    "Absinthe is really complex," he said. "There are a lot of powerful botanical ingredients all fighting for dominance. So you strive for balance."

    St. George will compete with three other absinthe distillers - the Swiss Kubler, French Lucid and the Brazilian Absinto Camargo. All have begun importing the licorice-flavored spirit into the United States in recent months. It was the Kubler distillery that hired attorney Robert Lehrman to end the prohibition, while Lucid was the brainchild of Ted Breaux, a New Orleans chemist who reverse-engineered an old bottle of absinthe to devise his formula. He worked with a French distillery to reproduce it. All have paved the way for U.S. distillers to sell their own perfected versions of the drink, which are likely to hit the shelves soon.

    Lehrman said Yves Kubler, who produces a few hundred thousand bottles of absinthe a year, saw a real market for the spirit here and was eager to tap into it. So in 2000, Lehrman started making inquiries of federal regulators only to determine that the fight would be a tough one.

    "When something has been banned since 1912, it's hard to get it undone," he said.

    But Lehrman persevered. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau officials said they were willing to accept absinthe formulas that fall under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations that the drink contain no more than 10 parts per million of the chemical thujone, but the word absinthe on the bottle's label had to be small and used with a qualifier like St. George's Verte or Kubler's Swiss Absinthe Superieure.

    Lehrman said thujone in mass quantities "is bad stuff," but small amounts are found in a number of herbs, ingredients and materials, including sage and cedar, and are considered fairly harmless. More notable is absinthe's high alcohol content, typically 120 proof or more, about 50 percent higher than vodka and whiskey.

    "Look, absinthe is bad the way Jack Daniels is bad, the way Skyy Vodka is bad," says Lehrman. "The worst component is the alcohol. If you drink too much, something bad will happen."

    But in 1905 the Swiss government was convinced that it was absinthe alone that turned a law-abiding citizen into a homicidal maniac. After Jean Lanfray, a 31-year-old laborer, killed his pregnant wife and two children, the Swiss government banned the spirit. Although Lanfray had sampled a bottle of absinthe before breakfast that morning, officials failed to take into consideration that he had also consumed Creme de Menthe, cognac and soda, more than six glasses of wine and a cup of coffee laced with brandy, says Barnaby Conrad III, the San Francisco author of "Absinthe: History in a Bottle" (Chronicle Books, 1988; the publisher is not affiliated with this newspaper).

    Conrad, an artist and journalist who traced the downfall of absinthe in his book, says the drink became synonymous with the degeneration of the world's most famous bohemians, from Van Gogh's infamous ear cutting to Verlaine's debaucherous sprees of sex and rage.

    Even Oscar Wilde was quoted as saying "After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, which is the most horrible thing in the world."

    But Conrad says absinthe was probably the least of these artists' problems.

    "Van Gogh suffered from schizophrenia, a disease that went way back in his family, and Verlaine was a raging alcoholic," he said.

    The author believes that absinthe merely became the scapegoat of politicians. Its controversy was probably fueled by the wine industry, which was threatened by the popularity of absinthe.

    But the mystique of the famous liquid only adds to its allure, says Conrad, who has sold more of his books in the last five years than in the first 15 of its existence. Many young enthusiasts entranced by its folklore have tried ordering absinthe on the Internet, hoping not to get caught. Some modern-day moonshiners even tried distilling it at home.

    "It's the forbidden fruit factor," says the author.

    And that, he says, will certainly help sales.

    "Just because you drink absinthe doesn't mean you're going to become a creative genius," Conrad warns. "But it will tickle your imagination as it tickles your brain cells."

    Why the mystique?

    Modern absinthe got its start as a medical elixir in the late 18th century but became immensely popular as a drink in the mid-1800s, especially among the avant-garde.

    Edgar Degas created his famous painting "L'absinthe" of a woman sitting in front of a glass of absinthe, and Pablo Picasso painted "The Absinthe Drinker" during his blue period. Ernest Hemingway is said to have been a consummate absinthe drinker and was known to have a glass or two before running with the bulls


    By Sarah Shemkus
    December 23, 2007

    It has been said to inspire artistic raptures and induce a remarkably clear-headed intoxication.

    It has also been blamed for provoking murderous rampages and causing insanity, charges that led to it being banned from the United States nearly a century ago.

    And now absinthe, the pale green liquor with the controversial history, is back — and gaining popularity in limited locations on the Cape.

    "You know that scene in 'Jaws' where they see the shark and say 'I think we're going to need a bigger boat?' I think that sums up the feeling," said Jared Gurfein, president of Viridian Spirits, the Manhasset, N.Y.-based company that produces the first absinthe to be legally sold in the country for more than 90 years.

    "It's been unbelievable," said Gurfein, about the unexpected success of his product, which was approved for sale in the U.S. in March.

    Absinthe has a complex and controversial history.

    Wildly popular in Europe at the end of the 19th century, it has a multilayered herbal flavor. One of the main flavoring ingredients, wormwood, contains a substance called thujone, which is purported to have psychotropic qualities.

    It was nicknamed the Green Fairy for its chartreuse color and the supposedly fantastical effects it had on those who drank it.

    It was preferred by artists and writers — such as Ernest Hemingway, Vincent van Gogh and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec — who claimed the drink aroused their creativity.

    Detractors, however, said that the spirit drove men mad and was the cause of violent behavior.

    Because of these concerns, absinthe was banned in many European countries in the early part of the 20th century and in the United States in 1912.

    Later, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declared that only thujone-free products could be sold in the country.

    From time to time throughout the years, people have approached the federal government about selling absinthe but were routinely turned away.

    However, Gurfein, a former corporate lawyer, was persistent. While developing a new absinthe product called Lucid, he worked with an attorney who has expertise in alcohol and beverage law to prepare a detailed brief arguing that the original prohibition of absinthe was no longer valid.

    At the same time, he was working with New Orleans-based absinthe expert Ted Breaux to perfect the formula for their product.

    Testing showed that the resulting spirit met federal guidelines by

    containing less than 10 parts per million of the prohibited substance.

    In fact, according to an analysis Breaux performed on vintage bottles, many original absinthes had similar thujone levels.

    "The level of thujone in Lucid is very comparable to the level you would have found in a significant number of pre-ban absinthes," Gurfein said.

    The next battle was over labeling: The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau was very hesitant to allow any product to be marketed using the name absinthe.

    After months of wrangling, however, the agency accepted the proposed label for Lucid, and absinthe returned to the American market in March.

    The spirit has been available in Massachusetts since October. Lucid is available in a limited number of states so far, including New York, New Jersey and Illinois. In addition to Lucid, which is produced in France, some stores are also carrying Kubler, a Swiss import.

    Already about a dozen liquor stores on the Cape and a limited number of bars and restaurants are finding it piques the interest of customers.

    At the Black Spot Cafe in Hyannis, owner Micah Power had to double his order of absinthe after the first week he offered it.

    He attributes the success of the product to its reputation.

    "The very fact that authors and artists partook of this substance goes a long way," he said.

    Though the intrigue that surrounds the product is a big part of its appeal, Gurfein is confident that there is still a long-term market for absinthe, even after the mystery dissipates.

    He is already seeing a high volume of reorders, he said.

    "The momentum is dispelling the possibility that this is just a passing curiosity," he said.

    The absinthe experience does not come cheap. At the Black Spot, absinthe prepared in the traditional French fashion, in which the liquor is mixed with ice water and sugar, goes for $7; mixed into martini with vodka and triple sec, the price goes to $12.

    Both Kubler and Lucid sell in liquor stores for around $50 for a bottle about the same size as a wine bottle.

    It is, however, selling well, despite the price.

    "There's a lot of people looking for it, a lot of people asking about it," said Bryan Higgins, assistant manager of Kappy's liquor store in Falmouth. "For a $50 bottle of liquor, it's been moving pretty good."


    Green light
    Absinthe, illicit and alluring, is now available in Boston
    Email|Print| Text size – + By Devra First
    Globe Staff / December 5, 2007

    At Deep Ellum in Allston, bartender Emily Stanley is pouring absinthe, something that until recently she would not have been able to do without breaking the law. She prepares the spirit in the traditional way, setting a special slotted absinthe spoon over a glass, then placing a sugar cube on the spoon. Then she departs from tradition: She drips the anise-flavored drink, a brand called Lucid, over the sugar and sets the cube on fire. Absinthe traditionalists would cringe - why obscure the flavor of good absinthe with burned sugar? - but it does make for a nice piece of theater. And then it's back to tradition. She slowly pours cold water over what's left of the sugar cube; as the water trickles into the glass, the green-tinted spirit turns cloudy - an effect known in absinthe-speak as the "louche."
    Absinthe absinthe (ab' sinth') n. 1 A green spirit made with grand wormwood. 2 A drink beloved by Belle Epoque bohemians. 3 A source of inspiration for figures from Van Gogh to Hemingway. 4 A potion said by some to cause hallucinations, delirium, insanity. 5 A substance once effectively banned now being poured in Boston. (Globe Photo / Erik Jacobs)
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    "It won't make you see purple monkeys or anything," Stanley says. "But it will make you feel like a rock star."

    Absinthe has been effectively banned in the US since 1912, but its reputation precedes it: It inspires visions, it drives you crazy; it makes you paint masterpieces, it makes you kill people - so the stories go. It's said to have been created in the late 1700s by one Dr. Pierre Ordinaire as a tonic, made from wormwood and other herbs. Nicknamed "la Fee Verte" (the green fairy), it went on to become a favorite tipple of fin de siecle France, featured in the works of Picasso, Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Van Gogh. They drank it frequently, as did poets Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and Ver laine. Hemingway and his characters also famously imbibed; Johnny Depp and Marilyn Manson are known for appreciating absinthe. (Manson has even launched his own brand, called Mansinthe.) It can be served with the ritual sugar and water, but also in cocktails such as the Sazerac, the Corpse Reviver No. 2, and Death in the Afternoon.

    What makes this drink, which tastes like a very complex Luden's cough drop, the subject of such myth and controversy? It's a long story involving marketing, misunderstanding, the temperance movement, tests on guinea pigs, and the ineluctably romantic pairing of dissolution and creative genius. (For more information, try the websites oxygenee.com and feeverte.net.) But the short version of the story centers around a substance called thujone. Found in the grand wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) used to make absinthe, thujone was said to be hallucinogenic and/or harmful; it's why there's been a de facto ban on absinthe all these years. Those in search of the drink's herbal flavor long had to content themselves with Absente, a liqueur made with Southern wormwood, or illegal (and often poor quality) absinthe smuggled in by travelers from Europe.

    Earlier this year, however, two absinthes made with grand wormwood, Lucid and another called Kubler, were allowed onto the US market; they began arriving in Boston bars and liquor stores about a month ago. What makes them legal? At the time of the ban, says Art Resnick, a spokesman for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), "the testing method that was used by the FDA, which is the recognized testing method in their regulations, couldn't recognize thujone at less than 10 parts per million. If it's not detectable under their methods, they as a practical matter consider it thujone-free."

    Lucid and Kubler come in under the legal limit. Attorney Robert C. Lehrman, who headed the fight to get Kubler on the market, began working on the issue in 2003. The TTB refused to let the company use the term "absinthe." Then, earlier this year, there was a change. "They surprised us by saying 'We are not going to let you use that term in any big way,' " he says. "It was a gigantic shift. We were suddenly arguing about size and placement, not whether it was OK to use that term. Approval followed from there. The law never changed."

    Deep Ellum was one of the first local establishments to pour absinthe. And thus I am at the bar to find out if Oscar Wilde was right when he said of his favorite potable: "After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see them as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world."

    Glass No. 1: At first sip, the predominant taste is anise. Then other herbal notes start to kick in. It's slightly bitter, sort of like black licorice meets Campari. But much stronger. Lucid, the brand Deep Ellum is pouring, contains 62 percent alcohol to Campari's 24 percent, not to mention vodka's 40 percent. How many glasses are we drinking here, Oscar? I'm not sure I'm seeing things as I wish they were, but people do seem unusually friendly. Bartender Stanley joins me for a round; she drinks her absinthe in one shot (rock star). "Ready for another?" she asks.

    Glass No. 2: Absinthe seems to make me unusually clearheaded, an effect I'd heard about but didn't believe. I've had two now, and I'm barely feeling the alcohol. But maybe I'm just seeing things as they are not.

    Glass No. 3: The couple across the bar from me are trying absinthe. They sip, then grimace; I don't think they like it. My head hurts. I see things as they really are: I am not a rock star. But I'm OK with that. It's time to go home.

    There have been no hallucinations, no scrawled sonnets of unparalleled beauty, no murderous urges. I do feel oddly amped, though. All night I have extremely lucid dreams (guess that explains the name) involving detailed but mundane conversations with people I haven't spoken to in years. In the morning I find I'm wearing different pajamas than the ones I went to bed in. A drinking companion tells me he made a snack when he got home but realized when he woke up that he'd never eaten it. Was this thujone at work?

    More likely it was alcohol. "The whole thujone thing is ridiculous," says T.A. Breaux, the man who created Lucid, along with other absinthes. Breaux knows perhaps more than anyone else alive about making the spirit - his quest to distill historically accurate absinthe was chronicled in The New Yorker and Wired, among other publications.

    "The theory that absinthe causes hallucinations was just exaggerated. There was no absinthe around, so people speculated. I've tested absinthes from the 1800s. Vintage absinthe contained about 10 percent of the thujone that was originally theorized. Vintage absinthes could be called low thujone - they were."

    Dirk Lachenmeier, a scientist at the German food surveillance laboratory CVUA Karlsruhe, has studied absinthe extensively and concurs with Breaux. "To my knowledge, a hallucinogenic potential . . . was never proven for thujone in any concentration," he says via e-mail. "The only proven effects are seizures (like epileptic fits) if thujone is ingested in high concentrations (unreachable with absinthe). The limits are certainly justified to prevent potentially toxic thujone concentrations from reaching the food chain. The main human exposure for thujone is not absinthe but sage-derived products (sage filling in turkeys, etc.)."

    Lachenmeier's explanation for absinthe's popularity with all those artists and writers is ineluctably unromantic. "It was the psychotropic drug (due to ethanol, of course) with the highest availability and lowest price in this time frame," he says. In other words, it was Belle Epoque Thunderbird. "I presume that Van Gogh, Degas, and consorts would have been equally excellent artists if they had drunk nothing or other beverages like wine, gin, or vodka." Or simply had seconds at Thanksgiving dinner.

    But what about my feelings of clearheadedness? Did I imagine them?

    John Gertsen, the principal bartender at No. 9 Park, thinks that's possible. "There are many powerful things that happen when we start telling ourselves something's about to happen," he says. "Our bodies are capable of doing those things. The whole absinthe ritual maybe fools some people that they're about to fall into a state."

    The ritual at No. 9 Park is indeed seductive. Here, you can administer your own ice water from a tall glass absinthe fountain with four spigots. Chef Barbara Lynch found it at a flea market, and it's even more attention-getting than flaming sugar. Interest in absinthe has been high since the drink became available, Gertsen says: About 20 percent of the customers have asked about it.

    At No. 9 Park I drink just one glass, this time Kubler, a blanche, or clear, absinthe. The flavor is milder and less complex than Lucid's, with a lingering astringency on the back of the tongue. Again I feel incredibly alert.

    Breaux says he has experienced the sensation, too. "Red wine makes me feel different from white wine. Tequila makes me feel different from vodka. Absinthe makes you feel a certain way. It gives me the feeling of a heightened sense of clarity that lasts for a while."

    But ultimately, as with any spirit, drinking absinthe is about enjoying the taste, smell, and texture of a spirit, not necessarily its effects. "When you brush the myths aside," Breaux says, "absinthe is a beautiful artisanal spirit and a unique spirit, and one that deserves to be treated with respect."

  8. Paracelsus
  9. Benga
    Ted Breaux knows what he's talking about, serious research and serious enthusiast. Wine cellar friends in Paris' 18th district know him well, and swim has had the chance to sample his own range of Jade absinthe, which is very tasty.

  10. LB Nelson
    But ... what are the restrictions (in California) as far as the level in Thujone ...:applause:
    Is it a misdemeanor to distill absinthe in your own home???...

    ... because it is the only way to obtain exactly what you want ... all this other stuff that is legal now is a huge rip-off and a bunch of B.S. Seriously, folks. The only way to obtain the real deal is to do some research and make it yourself.

    Comments please.

    Thanks for your time.

  11. Spare Chaynge
    so what brands are legal now?
  12. Matt The Funk
    SWIM tried some "Lucid" and honestly it just got him really drunk. Interesting taste though. A lot like liquorice, but different.
  13. LB Nelson
    LUCID truly sucks ... it does not represent what absinthe is. Its just a rip-off for the inexperienced newbies. We've purchased so many types of Absinthe from all over Europe and the Czech Republic, etc. King of Spirts "Gold" is probably the best ... Bairnsfather "Bitter" is good. Serpis (Spain) is tasty (red) ... but, after a ton of research, we feel that, most likely, none of them compare to the days of old. And that is what we are attempting to dupicate; lower alcohol and higher thujone.

    The best so far is what my partner has distilled himself ... he is inspired. Grows the wormwood; purchases fresh fennel and star anise from a place up in Northern California. He's got an excellent system down. His "Grune Fee" surpasses anything we've experienced. Very exciting. Its a golden amber green color ... and you can see tiny flecks of green wormwood floating around in the bottle. He also stick a long stem of it in the bottle for decor (and the possibility of boosting the thujone a little bit more). The bottles are not as large as a wine bottle; smaller, like half a bottle; perfect for presents. :O) The tip of my tongue is numb and my gums feel that way as well ... when I bite down on my teeth it is apparent that the thujone level is fairly high. The only way to measure the thujone level is if we send it to a lab. Haven't figured out a discreet way to accomplish that yet.

    I want to know if anyone knows the legal deal with a small, home distillation set-up and what the price would be if we were busted. Would we be classified as moon-shiners? We don't sell it to people. We give it away. :O)

    Did you know it tastes quite good drizzled in fine champagne?

    Please respond regarding my inquiry about legal stuff and the consequences herein.

    Again, LUCID SUCKS.


    LB Nelson

    LB Nelson added 3 Minutes and 59 Seconds later...

    HERE, HERE!!! IT IS THE ONLY, ONLY WAY!!!:thumbsup:
  14. nEone
    From the TTB Website (Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade - US regulatory dept.) ttb.gov

    You cannot produce spirits for beverage purposes without paying taxes and without prior approval of paperwork to operate a distilled spirits plant. [See 26 U.S.C. 5601 & 5602 for some of the criminal penalties.] There are numerous requirements that must be met that make it impractical to produce spirits for personal or beverage use. Some of these requirements are paying special tax, filing an extensive application, filing a bond, providing adequate equipment to measure spirits, providing suitable tanks and pipelines, providing a separate building (other than a dwelling) and maintaining detailed records, and filing reports. All of these requirements are listed in 27 CFR Part 19.

    From U.S. Penal Code Title 26, 5601

    (a) Offenses
    Any person who—
    (1) Unregistered stills
    has in his possession or custody, or under his control, any still or distilling apparatus set up which is not registered, as required by section 5179 (a); or
    (2) Failure to file application
    engages in the business of a distiller or processor without having filed application for and received notice of registration, as required by section 5171 (c); or
    (3) False or fraudulent application
    engages, or intends to engage, in the business of distiller, warehouseman, or processor of distilled spirits, and files a false or fraudulent application under section 5171; or
    (4) Failure or refusal of distiller, warehouseman, or processor to give bond
    carries on the business of a distiller, warehouseman, or processor without having given bond as required by law; or
    (5) False, forged, or fraudulent bond
    engages, or intends to engage, in the business of distiller, warehouseman, or processor of distilled spirits, and gives any false, forged, or fraudulent bond, under subchapter B; or
    (6) Distilling on prohibited premises
    uses, or possesses with intent to use, any still, boiler, or other utensil for the purpose of producing distilled spirits, or aids or assists therein, or causes or procures the same to be done, in any dwelling house, or in any shed, yard, or inclosure connected with such dwelling house (except as authorized under section 5178 (a)(1)(C)), or on board any vessel or boat, or on any premises where beer or wine is made or produced, or where liquors of any description are retailed, or on premises where any other business is carried on (except when authorized under section 5178 (b)); or
    (7) Unlawful production, removal, or use of material fit for production of distilled spirits
    except as otherwise provided in this chapter, makes or ferments mash, wort, or wash, fit for distillation or for the production of distilled spirits, in any building or on any premises other than the designated premises of a distilled spirits plant lawfully qualified to produce distilled spirits, or removes, without authorization by the Secretary, any mash, wort, or wash, so made or fermented, from the designated premises of such lawfully qualified plant before being distilled; or
    (8) Unlawful production of distilled spirits
    not being a distiller authorized by law to produce distilled spirits, produces distilled spirits by distillation or any other process from any mash, wort, wash, or other material; or
    (9) Unauthorized use of distilled spirits in manufacturing processes
    except as otherwise provided in this chapter, uses distilled spirits in any process of manufacture unless such spirits—
    (A) have been produced in the United States by a distiller authorized by law to produce distilled spirits and withdrawn in compliance with law; or
    (B) have been imported (or otherwise brought into the United States) and withdrawn in compliance with law; or
    (10) Unlawful processing
    engages in or carries on the business of a processor—
    (A) with intent to defraud the United States of any tax on the distilled spirits processed by him; or
    (B) with intent to aid, abet, or assist any person or persons in defrauding the United States of the tax on any distilled spirits; or
    (11) Unlawful purchase, receipt, or processing of distilled spirits
    purchases, receives, or processes any distilled spirits, knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe that any tax due on such spirits has not been paid or determined as required by law; or
    (12) Unlawful removal or concealment of distilled spirits
    removes, other than as authorized by law, any distilled spirits on which the tax has not been paid or determined, from the place of manufacture or storage, or from any instrument of transportation, or conceals spirits so removed; or
    (13) Creation of fictitious proof
    adds, or causes to be added, any ingredient or substance (other than ingredients or substances authorized by law to be added) to any distilled spirits before the tax is paid thereon, or determined as provided by law, for the purpose of creating fictitious proof; or
    (14) Distilling after notice of suspension
    after the time fixed in the notice given under section 5221 (a) to suspend operations as a distiller, carries on the business of a distiller on the premises covered by the notice of suspension, or has mash, wort, or beer on such premises, or on any premises connected therewith, or has in his possession or under his control any mash, wort, or beer, with intent to distill the same on such premises; or
    (15) Unauthorized withdrawal, use, sale, or distribution of distilled spirits for fuel use
    Withdraws,[1] uses, sells, or otherwise disposes of distilled spirits produced under section 5181 for other than fuel use;
    shall be fined not more than $10,000, or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both, for each such offense.

    That's just for making booze. Since Thujone is also a controlled substance...well...consider this as baseline.

    As for giving it away...they tax alcohol on what's made, not what's sold. So even if a person is just giving away home-made vodka - they're guilty of tax-fraud if they haven't complied with the above.

    Also note #11 - by ACCEPTING home-made booze, people are liable - even if not purchased.
  15. LB Nelson
    Well, that really sucks...

    Thank you so much for your time and providing this information. I was looking around all sorts of sights; wasn't sure what the straight deal was.

    Appreciate it.

    Peace. :cool:
  16. Benga
    there's a lot of info on the subject here, that would be really worth reading up on.
    the "days of old", thujone content and psychoactivity is a both a myth and /or a sales pitch.
    some people have actually sampled "days of old" absinthe and had them analysed, very expensive bottles that had been stashed or forgotten before absinthe prohibition. authentic bottles from such caches are available every now and then.
    People like Ted Breaux, and others, actually worked on historical recreation rather than absinthe hype.
    Swiss / french distillers from the Pontarlier area, who never really stopped distilling. Absinthiades competitions...this is the type of info to look for.
    again, it has discussed / said before and, a little wary of sounding like an broken record howling in the wind I urge people to read up.


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