Friday, January 11, 2008

Morty Normally Sticks to Peach Schnapps

A Liquor of Legend Makes a Comeback
Published: December 5, 2007
Since the start of the year, at least four absinthes, including two from Europe and one from South America, have been cleared for sale. At the same time, hundred-year-old legends about its ties to murder and madness have been discredited. For years, absinthe’s chief appeal has been its shady reputation and contraband status. It was said to have caused artists like Van Gogh to hallucinate. Now that it is safe and legal, will anyone still drink it?

To find out, I tried the two absinthes on sale in New York along with an early sample of St. George Absinthe Verte. And I was astonished by how delicate, gentle and refreshing they were. Astonished in part because of my earlier run-ins with absinthe. There was the Portuguese stuff that looked like radiator fluid and tasted like a mouthful of copper. There was the Czech product that a friend smuggled past customs in a mouthwash bottle. I would have preferred the mouthwash.
I tried each straight (eye-opening, but not for everybody), and diluted with water. The sugar cube of legend is not needed with a skillfully made absinthe, which all of these were.

The Kübler Absinthe Supérieure ($56.99), at 53 percent alcohol, is the easiest to understand. Fans of Pernod and other absinthe substitutes will find the flavors familiar. But while Pernod speaks of anise, Kübler tastes like licorice. It says only one thing, but says it very pleasantly.

With Lucid ($67.99), things get more complicated. Mr. Breaux makes it in a French distillery based on his analysis of vintage absinthes. Besides a bracing dose of fresh anise and a back-of-the-tongue bitterness, on one tasting, I thought I detected asparagus. A second encounter was more minty. Both times, Lucid kept pulling me back in for a fourth, seventh, twelfth sip. It was alarmingly easy to imagine exploring it while a long afternoon slipped away.

1 comment:

Mosiche said...

eh, i like manishevitz