(Please skip to the last paragraph for my questions if you wish to avoid my introductory waffle.)
I first tried Absinthe New Years eve about two years ago. It was Czech Absinthe and with no experienced Absinthe drinkers around for guidance, we toasted the sugar above a bowl of neat Absinthe and winced as we somehow managed to get the horrible stuff down.
There were no hallucinations and surprisingly no hangovers or technicolor yawns either but it wasn't pleasant to drink so I didn't go back for a second drink, until about two weeks ago. I was looking at some of Van Gogh's art that I hadn't seen before and one piece in particular (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/02/Vincent_Van_Gogh_0020.jpg) reminded me of the swirling visual distortions that an LSD trip provides.
Already being aware that Absinthe wouldn't make me trip, I was interested to try Absinthe again as I wanted to know more about the drink that supposedly brought about the state of mind that inspired such brilliant creativity (even if it wasn't due to the heavy Absinthe use).
After some online investigation, I quickly learned that we had been doing it wrong with the blazing sugar and that with the right kind of "pour" and the right kind of Absinthe one would experience both a beautiful louche effect and a pleasurable ritual prior to each drink. In addition to this, the beautiful gear that goes along with the drink was also intriguing.
I went straight out and bought what seemed to be the best thing available in Australia, that wasn't going to cost me over $100 for a taste. Doubs Mistique seemed to be the best bottle on offer here outside of the Absinthe Salon so I picked up a bottle, only to find after getting it home that despite the French writing on the back of the bottle, it was in fact made in South Africa...
My first attempt at the louche was obviously incorrect (or the Absinthe I got just sucks and requires the perfect pour to be pleasurable). It was watery and didn't taste too pleasant. I tried again the next day but this time I used less water and mixed in a whole sugar cube. Having previously thought I'd just wasted sixty bucks on a drink I was never going to bother with again, I was pleasantly surprised that the drink was very enjoyable both in taste and sensation.
My first bottle now drained, I'm looking to get a fountain and the relevant gear. The Frenchman seems to have what looks like the best fountain at the best price so I believe I'll be going through him for the fountain and the glasses but I've seen some other spoons and a grille elsewhere that I'm interested in getting and I would like to know if anyone here knows if the following are reputable dealers.
Absintheherbs.com has a Kirk Burkett grille that I would love to order and absinthe-dealer.com has some spoons that I haven't seen elsewhere. Has anyone used these stores or know anyone who has and are they reputable stores? I'm also looking to try some high quality Absinthe. From the selection at the Absinthe Salon I think I will go with a bottle of Jade Edourd, Duplais Verte and La Clandestine - are these good picks from their selection? Is the Jade Edourd the best of the three they sell (Jade Edourd, Jade VS 1898 and Jade Noluvelle Orleans)? At the moment I want to get the Edourd as the other two I want to get are Swiss and the Jade Edourd is a recreation of a French rather than Swiss Absinthe. I have an opportunity to get these duty free in a few weeks - for the Aussies on this forum - can I buy Absinthe duty free in New Zealand's airports to bring to Australia or is there a special permit required? Thanks to anyone who bothered to read this whole essay and to anyone who might be able to answer the above questions. Cheers!