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  • Jennifer Mueller

A Hater's Guide to Absinthe

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I should love it, I know. People for decades, centuries even have waxed profoundly on the Green Fairy. It has literary cache. The muse of legendary writers, all the great artist imbibed it, not to mention it's the bad boy of alcohol, among so many was banned. Was it the THC that drove men mad or a bad grape harvest putting the wine-makers up in arms at lost sales? Whatever the reason, for decades people forgot about it as the demon of the alcohol world. It was a world of the hidden, talked about in hushed tones bringing out bottles produced in a handful of distilleries that defied the ban. Easy to drink provided water was added, hallucinations if you were lucky, the muse to artists, the louch as the water hits the green liquid. Posters advertising the drink were seductive, elegant, and beautiful. It has its own language, spoons to rest over the glass to dissolve sugar into the drink with a little water. Or a burning sugar cube if you're really daring. Hemingway had death in the afternoon a mix of champagne and absinthe. In other words I should love it, bottles of pre-ban absinthe are sold for thousands of dollars with ranking like wine. The green has faded into amber and now it's fashionable again. I'm a writer for goodness sake.

So in the days when it was just coming back as the bans dropped in country by country. A lower thujone content that was supposed to be the madness ingredient only, but it was back. Old factories that had once made it dusted off old recipes, new companies started experimenting to recreate a product no one living had made. New and old were suddenly there to buy. My husband wanted to try it, and I did some research, found a small little bottle enough for 8 to 10 glasses maybe, bought one glass and spoon and waited as it came from Czechoslovakia, a beautiful art nouveau bottle capped with red wax. But that would be weeks. Then he got impatient and searched out a local liquor store that carried it. A big gift box with a huge bottle and two glasses and the spoon. Carefully following the proscribed method, about a shot in the stunning little glass, balancing the sugar cube on the delicate spoon over the top and slowly pouring the cold water over the sugar. Like magic the clear green liquid turned a milky greenish white. AND NEITHER OF US LIKED IT. All the talk of wormwood and thujone, it didn't point out that it is for all intents a licorice/anise liquor. This was a bit before the reviews and rankings like wines were there to tell us all that. But it didn't help the fact that we were stuck with a huge bottle of something we couldn't stand. The lure of it had us trapped, we were the perfect people that should have loved it. I'm a writer for goodness sake. The romance, the legend, the muse, the lure, the history, the Green Fairy and we hated it. Once more we tried it, but time didn't help. We gave it away to a friend that liked anise.

A week later the tiny little bottle arrived in a box covered with foreign postage and writing. It sat for years taunting me with its pretty design, its red wax cap untouched still covering the small cork. I finally gave it to someone that would enjoy it a few weeks ago. I just hope I get my bottle back.

#absinthe #history #alcohol

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