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Neuron

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  1. "they all pretty much cost the same, generally speaking..." That is a very interesting observation, and one which I believe is true in the current absinthe market! It's quite different for other drinks, say wine and Scotch whiskey, where there is a much greater price difference between the great, good, and mediocre stuff. I'd guess that the reason for this is that the absinthe market is limited (re both supply and demand) compared to the other markets. Such a limited supply/demand economic situation would seem to inflate the price for low quality products. That would explain why low quality mass-produced stuff like Absente costs nearly as much as high-quality artisanal stuff like St. George!
  2. A potential problem with the type of cork-remover the OP asked about is that it's easy to push the cork down into the bottle while you are trying to slide the prongs down along the outside of the cork. Then you wind up with a cork floating around inside the bottle that is impossible to extract. IMHO the classic corkscrew is hard to beat. The clasp-knife "waiter's" style allows mechanical advantage to "lever" out obstinate corks, and is better than the T-handle type that offers no mechanical advantage. Though the corkscrew is a simple design, some are better made than others, and the best ones will cut into a difficult cork and hold that cork better than a crappy corkscrew.
  3. Wait, what? It's made with tomatoes on a lathe? OOPS!...typos..."it seems tomato" should have been "it seems to me" and "the original lathe" should have been "the original late"...I've got some sticky keys on my computer keyboard. But now I'm wondering if any absinthe recipes could include tomatoes... And I guess that if the tomatoes are firm enough you might be able to turn them on a lathe.
  4. I went ahead and purchased another BevMo absinthe, La Muse Verte traditionelle to expand my absinthe palate (and palette), after reading more WS reviews. The reviews were mixed, with some folks really liking it and others feeling it was awful. I'm beginning to appreciate and look for certain things in absinthe, and am coming to the conclusion that I want my absinthe to: 1) be made with the historically "correct" main herbal ingredients (the "trinity") +/- other herbs; and 2) not contain any added sugar or artificial colorants or flavors. My first two absinthes (Absente & Pernod Absinthe Superieure) failed on item #2. I still liked the taste of the Pernod... LMV was definitely different from my first 4 absinthes (SG, Kübler, Absente, and PAS). It is more "bitter" and astringent in taste, to the point that I was prompted to try it with the sugar cube, for comparison. My tastebuds are such that so far I haven't felt a need to add sugar. I found that I actually preferred it without sugar! It's just that it seemed so much more "bitter" than what I tried before (maybe the wormwood flavor is more pronounced?) and I assumed it "needed" to be sweetened. It was just "different" in that regard, but it seems tomato be an honest difference, and that's fine with me. The color is a nice natural jade, the louche seems thick and, for lack of a better word, "muscular," and unlike the others I've tried seems to evolve in definite "stages." I noted a definite taste of licorice, which I liked. WS forum posters have discussed the issue of "distilled" herbs versus "macerated" herbs...not sure I understand the distinction, but I guess it involves whether or not the herb-alcohol infusion is subsequently distilled. The consensus seems to be that LMV is a "macerated" absinthe. If so, I can imagine that maceration w/o subsequent distillation would lead to more herbal oils winding up in the final product, and that could explain the dramatic LMV louche. I would think that herbal oils would be lost (left back towards the "tails") with subsequent distillation. In any case I suspect that both processes are equally acceptable in "historically correct" absinthe. Adding herbal oils to the finished absinthe, on the other hand, would be a cheap shortcut, and a definite no-no. There is nothing untraditional or "cheap" about getting natural herbal flavors into alcohol via steeping it in macerated herbs. I have no reason to doubt that LMV is made according to the original lathe 19th C. family recipe.
  5. Thanks for the clarification about the 1930 publication of the "faux Wilde" story! You guys really know your stuff! I guess that is what I read, and it explains why I associated it with the Tiny Tim song (the reference to Tulips)... I also guess, from my limited understanding by reading accounts of Wilde's behavior, that he probably was an alcoholic. I don't know if he used other mind-altering substances (like opiates) but he could have (and opiates were legally obtainable in UK and US pharmacies in the 19th Century...heck they were even available right here in the USA until the first decade of the 20th Century from big department stores! So I think it is reasonable to conclude that absinthe, per Se, is not any more "hallucinogenic" than any other alcoholic beverage (say Gin, which BTW contains terpinoid botanical extracts). If there is a particular "danger" from absinthe drinking, I would have to say that the danger lies in the fact that: 1) it is a high proof drink, and 2) it simply tastes so good that the drinker may be beguiled into drinking more of it than he perhaps should!
  6. I went back to BevMo yesterday and purchased a bottle of Kübler Absinthe Superieure, based on recommendations of WS reviewers. I liked it! The taste was not as complex as SG (which I still prefer of the 4 brands I've tried so far (SG, Kübler, Pernod Superieure, and Absente) and I now would rank them from best to worst in that order. The good news about Kübler is...no migraine! I tried the Absente again, and, yes, I got a headache a couple of hours later. I know that my experience with Absente is anecdotal and may be idiosyncratic, and the cephalogenic/headache inducing effects of absinthe are not part of the WS evaluation protocols, but maybe they should be. The fact that I can drink the other three brands without getting a nasty headache suggests to me that there is something in the Absente that provokes migraine, but whatever that may be SG, Pernod, and Kübler don't have it. My experience with the Absente was so negative that I'm inclined to never drink it again.
  7. I'd be honored to be allowed to see an advance copy! I hope you get your thesis published. It sure sounds fascinating and I'm glad your academic faculty allowed you to do the research.
  8. I recall reading an account by Wilde describing his seeing flowers sprouting out of his body (or some other bizarre visual hallucination) after a night of knocking back absinthe. I can't recall the source, but Tiny Tim's "Tiptoe through the tulips" was on the radio at the time I read it, and I sort of link the passage to that goofy song...
  9. Just to clarify,when I referred to "comments about the hallucinogenic properties of absinthe, one needn't attribute the documented hallucinosis of famous absintheurs to thujone or any other ingredient in absinthe" I meant historical comments and comments made in the popular media... and NOT comments made here by WS members!
  10. Being a neurologist, I was drawn to this thread, "Food For Neurotoxic Thought." I'm not an expert in neurotoxins, but I do know that many natural microbial, plant and animal derived compounds are neurotoxic, such as botulinum toxin, belladonna alkaloids, curare, tetrodotoxin, etc. Most of these toxins affect nerve and neuromuscular transmission, causing cramps, spasms, paralysis, heart arrhythmias, but others affect the brain, causing delirium, hallucinations, and seizures. It would not surprise me that absinthe, which contains botanical extracts, could inadvertently become contaminated with some botanical neurotoxin due to error on the part of the maker. I suspect that such error would be extremely rare in modern distilleries. We are all aware of the dangers of poisonous mushrooms. Few if any mushroom poisonings result from commercially obtained mushrooms. Almost all such poisonings occur when folks pick and consume wild mushrooms. There is also a risk to those who use compounded "herbal" remedies purchased in herb stores, especially those specializing in East Asian (mainly Chinese) herbal medicinals. I remember quite well the case of a 30-something Chinese-American woman who was brought to Kings County Hospital in the late 1980's when I was a medical student rotating on the neurology service. This woman had status epilepticus (constant seizures) that would not respond to any treatments. She eventually died, and we never identified any known cause for her seizures. She had some sort of "cold" for which she obtained a herbal tea from a local herbalist. Her family brought in a bag of the stuff, which was sent to the State toxicology lab for analysis. I don't think they ever identified a particular known neurotoxin (or at least they didn't tell us if they did), but they did inject it into some lab rats, which went into status epilepticus and died. For all I know, they may have identified the culprit molecule...such a potent neurotoxin would perhaps be of interest to certain folks... Oh, as regards comments about the hallucinogenic properties of absinthe, one needn't attribute the documented hallucinosis of famous absintheurs to thujone or any other ingredient in absinthe. The neurological effects of alcoholism are well-known, and include seizures ("rum fits"), alcoholic "blackouts," hallucinosis ("pink elephants"), Wernicke-Korsakoff Psychosis, the Korsakoff Amnestic Syndrome, and dementia. Anyhow, I thought I'd contribute to this thread, which has been silent for a while.
  11. Thanks everyone! I must check out the Absinthe Brasserie in Hayes Valley one of these days.
  12. Hello to all. I look forward to learning more about absinthe from folks on this site. I became interested in absinthe for two reasons: 1) I've always liked the taste of liqueurs like Pernod and anisette (especially in "corrected" espresso; and 2) I studied literature in college, with an emphasis on the 19th and early 20th Century, and absinthe figured in a lot of the writing from that period. I'm a complete novice re absinthe, but I do have functional taste buds and am able to describe what I do and don't like when I imbibe the stuff. So far I've tried only 3 brands: Absente ("newer" version), Pernod Superieure, and St. George Verte. IMHO Absente tastes bad, almost like some sort of industrial mix of aromatic licorice-smelling hydrocarbons. It's color just doesn't seem natural...way too "day-glo" greenish. Worst of all, it gave me a migrainous hangover. Unfortunately I have migraine, and there is a lot of stuff I cannot drink because it triggers headaches. That includes a lot of stuff I really like the taste of, like good Scots Whiskey and fine aged red wines. The Pernod and St. George did not trigger migraines, so I assume they are free of whatever migraine-provoking cogeners are in the Absente. I liked the nose and taste of both the Pernod and St. George. I know the Pernod is artificially colored, but it looks fairly natural. The St. George doesn't really look "verte" so much as the yellowish-green brown of turning autumn leaves. The St. George has a more complex aroma and taste, due I guess to the more complex combination of botanicals in its recipe, and I think it is a bit more astringent on the tongue. I really like the taste. After reading the WS brand reviews I take it that SG is an "idiosyncratic," "oddball, or just "non-traditional" absinthe, due to its use of "unusual" herbs, like basil and stinging nettle. My taste buds don't care! It has a good mix of the "trinity" and the other ingredients make it very enjoyable to drink. In fact, I would imagine that in the early days of absinthe many artisanal distillers experimented with their recipes, adding this and that herbs into the mix. For all I know, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Poe, Wilde, and other famous absinthe drinkers would have welcomed, and might have actually tasted in some local bar an absinthe much like St. George's... Best of all, neither the Pernod nor SG provoke migraine headaches...
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