Friday, March 4, 2011

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National Absinthe Day: The Start to Finish Cocktail

March 5th, for those who mark such things, is National Absinthe Day. This is not, you understand, an official American holiday so much as an informal recognition of the four years that proper absinthe has been once again legally available in the United States.

As the Wormwood Society puts it,
No regulations have changed. Prior to May 2007 it was not widely known that the tolerance for official method of thujone analysis—10ppm—is such that it effectively legalizes many European absinthes. This was a major breakthrough. It also means that a number of pre-ban era absinthes would be legal in the US by modern standards, including the definitive premium absinthe brand, Pernod Fils.
Official holiday or not, the fact that Americans can now legally buy a range of imported and domestic absinthes does seem reason to raise a toast to that green fairy. And because I’m headed to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I’ll let a New Orleans bartender give a recipe for a mixed drink. Rhiannon Enlil from the Uptown cocktail bar Cure created a cocktail that’s a really nice play between bitter and sweet across the palate, truly a taste for adults.

The Start and Finish

1.5 oz Averna
.5 oz Lillet Blanc
.5 oz dry vermouth
.5 oz Pernod absinthe
1 dash orange bitters

Stir ingredients over ice, strain into a chilled rocks glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.

If you’re in New Orleans, do try to stop by Cure. I don’t make it Uptown absolutely every single trip, but when I do, I drop by this former fire station for some great cocktails and late-night bites.

Goes well with:
  • A visit to Cure at 4905 Freret Street in New Orleans. Give 'em a call (504) 302-2357 or check out the website.
  • Another visit — to the Wormwood Society’s FAQ about absinthe. You’ll hear a lot of hooey and misinformation about absinthe, but these guys are some of the most trusted voices out there. You can read what users have to say about Pernod and many more brands, extinct and extant. 
  • Bookshelf: A Taste for Absinthe, a rundown of R. Winston Guthrie and James F. Thompson's 2010 book on the spirit and cocktail recipes that call for it.

2 comments:

Tammy said...

After reading this, it seems wrong somehow that I've lived in France for years now, and have yet to taste authentic absinthe. I have had Pernod, Ricard & other pastis/anise-based beverages (hard to avoid in the south!). Didn't drink it when I lived in Amsterdam either, where it was advertised for tourists, years before it was possible to do so other places...hmm.

Matthew Rowley said...

Tammy ~ you may have lucked out missing the Amsterdam absinthe. We have similar bottles in Tijuana for the tourists. You can get Lucid fairly cheaply at the duty-free shops, but in general, I'd avoid bottles at places that cater to tourists. Barcelona was the same way; evil-looking Czech stuff for sale. I passed. Not sure how widely available they are in France, but Ted Breaux's absinthes are lovely. You can check them out through Jade Liqueurs http://www.bestabsinthe.com/index2.htm