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Local Organic Absinthe: Vintage Recipes & Urban Mythology

 

 

Since the early 1900s, Absinthe became a mythological character. It was said to be a hallucinogenic drug that was too dangerous to be legal. This outlawed libation has altered many great minds, including Van Gogh and Oscar Wilde.

 

The process of making absinthe is similar to gin production. It is traditionally made from flowers and leaves of grand wormwood. These ingredients are soaked in an alcoholic base and then the absinthe is redistilled. The wormwood contains thujone, which is hallucinogenic at extremely high doses. But the thujone level in absinthe is too low to be significant in terms of hallucinogenic properties.

 

 

  

A Recently Liberated Outlaw

 

 

 

The origins of commercial absinthe can be traced back to 1805 in Pontarlier in Eastern France. It was produced here until it was banned in 1915.

 

Absinthe has only been liberated from an illegal status in France and the US over the past 5 years. Absinthe is now perfectly legal in every country in which alcohol is legal.

Pemberton Distillery’s Unique & Authentic Local Absinthe

 

  

Photo by Valerie Stride from The Demystified Vine 

When Absinthe was released from the shadows of criminal exile, it travelled all the way to BC’s very own Pemberton Distillery. These fine folks were up for the challenge of making a local organic absinthe that is both authentic and distinct.

 

It is distilled from a base of organic potato spirits and a select blend of traditional Absinthe herbs including Grand Wormwood, Green Anise, Sweet Fennel, and special botanicals unique to the Pacific Northwest: wild gathered Devil’s Club Root Bark, Oregon Grape Root, Hops and roasted Hemp Seed.

 

Recipe #1: Death in the Afternoon

 

During a recent visit to Dandelion Records & Emporium (at 2442 Main St.), I discovered a book titled “Let’s Bring Back – The Cocktail Edition: A Compendium if Impish, Romantic, Amusing and Occasionally Appalling Potations from Bygone Eras” by Lesley M. Blume.

 

“Death in the Afternoon” is a recipe from this collection. It is named after Hemingway’s 1932 book about bullfighting.

 

Death in the Afternoon

In this recipe, brave souls are instructed to:

 

“Pour one jigger of absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink 3 to 5 of these slowly.” -Hemingway

 

It seems likely that these instructions will indeed create an experience that resembles death.

 

Recipe #2 : Absinthe Sazerac

 

We also found a great recipe for “Absinthe Sazerac” from Epicurious by Camper English. This recipe calls for Peychaud Bitters. However, we highly recommend the locally made organic cocktail bitters from Pemberton Distillery.

 

These cocktail bitters are brewed with potent local ingredients: Pemberton Potato Spirit, North Arm Farm Certified Organic Lovage, Certified Organic Herbs & Spices, Certified Organic Gentian Root and Lilooet Golden Honey.

Absinthe Sazerac

 

1 1/2 cups ice cubes

 

1 cube or 1/2 teaspoon sugar

 

4 dashes Peychaud Bitters

 

1/4 cup (2 ounces) rye whiskey

 

About 1/2 teaspoon absinthe

 

1 thin strip lemon peel

 

Chill an old-fashioned glass by placing 1 cup ice inside and set aside. In second old-fashioned glass, stir together the sugar, bitters, and ½ tsp water until sugar is completely dissolved, about 30 seconds. Add rye whiskey and remaining ½ cup ice, and stir well, at least 15 seconds. From first glass, discard ice, then add absinthe. Coat the inside of the glass with the absinthe by rolling the glass horizontally in your hands, discard the excess. Strain rye whiskey mixture into chilled, absinthe-coated glass. Squeeze lemon peel over drink, making sure oils fall into glass, then drop peel into drink, and serve.