Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A as in Absinthe

You know I really need to get my head out of the 'spent fuel bin' and in to the real world. I just discovered that Absinthe has been legal in the United States since 2007. A copy of the above picture L'Absinthe, by Edgar Degas, hung in my home for many years. Somewhere along the way it got discarded in a move, but for years the couple was lovingly referred to a Grandma and Grandpa Pick.

I always wondered about this mythical substance that could carry you away to a dulled state as depicted by Monsieur Degas. There is something about a banned product that always leaves me wondering even if not to the point of experimentation.

Absinthe has been the subject of many artists throughout time which may have added to my curiosity. Wikipedia had this to say on its cultural influence:

The legacy of absinthe as a mysterious, addictive, and mind-altering drink continues to this day. Absinthe has been seen or featured in fine art, films, video, music and literature. The modern absinthe revival has had an effect on its portrayal. It is often shown as an unnaturally glowing green liquid which is set on fire before drinking, even though traditionally neither is true. In addition, it is most portrayed in the media as causing over-the-top hallucinations.The aura of illicitness and mystery surrounding absinthe has played into modern literature, movies, music and television. Such depictions vary in their authenticity, often applying  dramatic license to depict the drink as anything from an aphrodisiac to poison.

Usually when I think of Absinthe I think of this liquid that turns into a milky substance with the addition of water. I never realized there was this entire subset of Absinthe spoons that was added to the mix. I guess I was never curious enough.

And added to that several methods of preparation with their own special names like The French Method or The Bohemian Method. Why would anyone settle for a simple teaspoon and heroin when you can have an entire production going on while you search for the ultimate trip?

"The Bohemian Method" is an alternative method that uses fire. Like the French method, a sugar cube is placed on a slotted spoon over a glass containing one shot of absinthe. The difference is that the sugar is pre-soaked in alcohol, usually more absinthe, and then set ablaze. The flaming sugar cube is then dropped into the glass igniting the absinthe. Finally, a shot glass full of water is added to douse the flames. This method tends to produce a stronger drink than the French method. A variant of "The Bohemian Method" is to allow the fire to burn itself out. This variant, called "Cooking the Absinthe" or "Flaming Green Fairy," removes much but not all of the alcohol. The origins of this burning ritual may come from a coffee and brandy drink that was served at Café Brûlot, in which a sugar cube soaked in brandy was set aflame.
Or simply Ernest Hemingway's favorite "Death in the Afternoon" cocktail:  His directions are as follows: "Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly." Ah, yes, bring on the bulls.

If this little tidbit leaves you wanting for more I direct you to Absinthe a detailed Wikipedia entry on the subject.

1 comment:

  1. I just saw your blog post on absinthe. That picture brings back so many memories. I used to stare at it above the toilet in the bathroom next to Mark’s bedroom in China Cove. My interpretation was that she looked so lost and sad because she was upset that he got to have wine and she could only have milk.