To Absinthe or Not

Absinthe is the newest old trend in fine cocktails, or is it the oldest new trend in cocktails?
To Absinthe or Not
New Orleans, LA
We love to drink in New Orleans...and we love to try new things...we especially love to try new things...to drink! It's no wonder that Ted Breaux, a New Orleans' native, used his background as an environmental chemist to create his own "legal" absinthe, called Lucid. With the approval of Lucid in 2007, an old fashioned drink quickly became trendy once more, and if there were one place better than another to drink Absinthe, surely New Orleans would top the list (and I'm not calling anyone Shirley...yet)!

However, Lucid is made with genuine wormwood, the ingredient said to be primarily responsible for the well-documented (or not) Absinthe hallucinations and such. Nevertheless, locals and visitors alike were treated to "something new," when for the first time in 95 years, a legal shipment of absinthe entered New Orleans...and each time we lift a glass of the bright green liquid, we fulfill a life-long dream for Ted Breaux. I believe I'm speaking for everyone in New Orleans when I say just how much we truly love to drink new things...like Lucid!

In its various forms, however, I've been drinking Absinthe for over 10 years now with my visits to the Czech Republic. I learned how to drink Absinthe in Europe, where a spoon filled with brown sugar and Absinthe is set on fire. The fiery ingredients are quickly stirred into a glass of Absinthe until the sugar dissolves; then at last, it's time to drink. I soon learned that this age-old European process was nothing more than a "big idea" made up by a few advertising "execs" in the late eighties to impress tourists...not 1880's either, but late 1980's. Anyway, it was fun to do and it tasted good, too. Before long, it took hold like any other big trend and became the way to drink Absinthe in Europe.

I finally learned about the real way to drink Absinthe at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans...where else? If you're over 21, I highly recommend attending this "conference," (www.talesofthecocktail.com) where it's possible to sample everything from simple Absinthe drinks, to complicated Absinthe cocktails. You'll also learn to appreciate the many different qualities of Absinthe...its flavor and its many legendary effects. There's also only one way to savor this drink-not by setting it on fire...but with a "slow drip!"

First you must find a bar with an Absinthe fountain. Absinthe Fountains only contain cold water...the Absinthe is in a glass, but you DO need an "Absinthe Spoon" to place over the glass filled with the bright green drink. You then place a sugar cube on the spoon and allow the ice water to drip slowly on the cube and fall gently into the Absinthe. At this moment, the green fairy comes out in full force as the bright green liquid magically turns to a dull chartreuse cloud. It's time to sip, but be forewarned...the truth will just flow out of you with every sip! The more you drink...the more truth to be told.

I'd like to invite everyone to New Orleans to try something new to drink. Absinthe is the newest old trend in fine cocktails, or is it the oldest new trend in cocktails? At any rate, you'll find some of my favorite concoctions at Café Adelaide and at the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone, which by the way, just turned 60. No Brunch at Brennan's on Royal Street would be complete without an Absinthe Frappe, (over crushed ice) so refreshing! Or, try our newest culinary star, Le Meritage, in the Maison Dupuy where Chef Michael Farrell poaches Louisiana Oysters in Absinthe- positively YUMMY!

If it's just impossible to get to New Orleans to sample Absinthe in style, (and by the way, you have to like licorice or Anise), then take a little trip to your local liquor store and see if they carry Obsello (my favorite Absinthe), from Spain. It's the smoothest of all the Absinthe I've tried (too many to mention), and remains one of the oldest formulas in the world, perhaps because it was never banned in Spain? I just know that Obsello is not as harsh as the Absinthe "truth serum" can be, but it still gives you that lovely euphoric feeling...

Once again, I encourage you to attend Tales of the Cocktail coming up this July in New Orleans. It's a wonderful way to experiment with both the old and the new...liquors and cocktails made famous by the "City that Never Sleeps," and the people who enjoy them! Why not be one of them and have your own "Tale to Tell!"

TAGS:
absinthe, new orleans, tales of the cocktail, louisiana, cocktails, royal street, oysters