28 November 2007

The Truth About Absinthe

In the world of alcohol, absinthe is not a very well understood spirit. It's been mystified and highly romanticised over the 100 or so years it has been banned here in the states (until recently it was made legal - HOORAY!).

Many people falsely believe that it causes hallucinations or other psychedelic effects - not unlike Newcastle Brown Ale. Most of that is actually attributed to the heavy metals added to some old bootleg absinthes to achieve the louche (turning the liquid cloudy) effect. If ya drink enough mercury from your mum's old thermometer and you'll see something that's for shit sure.

The real effects of absinthe simply come from its absurdly high alcohol content. Currently, two foreign varieties are available on the United States market, with a slew of domestic makers readying a new product. When purchasing, make sure that your wormwood is between Kubler 53 (53% alcohol) or Lucid (62% alcohol).

Obviously it's all been very highly romanticised. Absinthe tastes like shit and burns like a rusty razor blade but hey, Oscar Wilde, van Gogh, Manet and Rimbaud couldn't have been faking it, right? Would my boy Henri de Toulouse fuck around and act on a placebo effect of green rubbing alcohol?

Surely Paul Verlaine knew the real deal. Picasso and Hemingway drank the Kool-Aid, too.

I've tried it, the real shit, not the new legal Marilyn Manson absinthe. I had it back when it was still banned and we could only get it whilst on tour in Budapest or Prague. We'd have to order it weeks in advance and our friends would sneak it to us backstage. And it tasted like actual dolphin piss and burned like hydrogen peroxide on a paper cut. And I didn't see any strawberry fields, just the sleepytime trio and Officer Blackout.

No evidence supports any hallucinations or other psychedelic effects. Few descriptions of these hallucinations exist from actual absinthe drinkers beyond a few quotes from poets after a long night of drinking. And you know poets, they live to exaggerate and romanticise.

So anyway, Gridskipper has a map of a few spots where you can have yourself a few shots of this ancient spirit and see for yourself that it was all bullshit.

Related: 09 October 2007 Absinthe, the sorcerous

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