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A Taste for Absinthe


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#1 Alan Moss

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 01:57 AM

New absinthe cocktail book out now.

Reviewed here.

Probably the best absinthe cocktail book out so far, although there's competition coming out with Imbibe's Kate Simon bringing out another cocktail book in a couple of weeks.

The author, Winston Guthrie, is the man behind the Absinthe Buyers Guide site, which is in serious need of an update (being done, I understand). The book is much, much better and he is now evidently somewhat more informed (with the help of Tempus Fugit and Peter Schaf, I believe).
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#2 techdiver

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 04:17 PM

Great, like I really need another cocktail book. :poke:

#3 OMG_Bill

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 04:25 PM

I need a good absinthe cocktail recipe book. So far,water has done me ok but I need to stretch out a bit and see if I can build a cocktail. ;)
Some folks may cringe each time I use the term "Booze" regarding these high quality drinks.
I mean no offense. There are bottles of extraordinary booze out there. I've tasted a few. Relax.

#4 techdiver

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 04:36 PM

Water definite choice for me. But I've also used it regularly in the fashion of Don the Beachcomber in Tiki drinks where an added dash of bitters and "Pernod" are called for, I "substitute" absinthe. Some of those wood cover cocktail books I love so much call for some pretty heavy proportions of absinthe and I find it hard to fathom how they came to be. Edited for examples: Absinthe - 1 pony absinthe, 1 pony water, 2 dashes bitters, 3 dashes benedictine; and Millionaire (No. 2) - 2/3 dry gin, 1/3 absinthe, 1 egg white, 1 dash anisette.

Edited by techdiver, 25 September 2010 - 04:48 PM.


#5 pierreverte

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Posted 01 October 2010 - 10:50 AM

‘A Taste for Absinthe’ Cocktail Book Release Event

Open Invitation:

•Monday, October 4 th, 2010 6 - 9 PM
•Book Passage in the Ferry Building – San Francisco

Book Passage
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 835-1020

•Photographer Liza Gershman presents the release of the new book:
“A Taste for Absinthe: 65 Recipes for Classic and Contemporary Cocktails” by R. W. Guthrie and James F. Thompson with photos by Liza Gershman

From the Foreword:
"A Taste for Absinthe explores its history in the old world and in American cocktails, capturing the romance and mystery of absinthe, or the Green Fairy as it was affectionately known, while concisely telling the colorful story of its rise and fall."
- Dale DeGroff, aka King Cocktail
www.atasteforabsinthe.com

•A panel of absinthe experts, along with the author, will discuss history, production, cocktails and the future of absinthe, along with taking your questions.
•Book signing by the author, photographer and local bartenders who contributed their recipes:

•Erik Adkins of Slanted Door and Heaven’s Dog
•Scott Baird and Josh Harris – The Bon Vivants of 15 Romolo
•Neyah White of Nopa
•Jason ‘Buffalo’ Lograsso of Bourbon & Branch and Quince
•Tim Stookey of the Presidio Social Club
•Ryan Fitzgerald of Beretta
•Danny Louie of Dosa and Prospect
•Jeff Hollinger of Comstock Saloon

Barman Erik Adkins welcomes you after the event to try 4 different absinthe-based cocktails from recipes contributed to the book, along with traditional absinthe drips, on a special event-priced drinks menu at the Slanted Door restaurant, located in the Ferry Building near Book Passage.

Edited by pierreverte, 01 October 2010 - 11:01 AM.

Absinthe is always greener in the other glass.™

#6 Brian Robinson

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 09:52 AM

Picked up a copy last night. GREAT book. There are a few things I take exception to, but they are minor points.

The cocktail list is fantastic. If anyone likes cocktails and likes absinthe, this book is a must.

I'll be making up several of the modern cocktails this week and reporting back.
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#7 AiO

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 12:59 PM

I'll second Brian's recommendation; I picked up a copy last week. Aside from a few errors (it recommends storing a bottle of absinthe on its side, for example) and its off-puttingly relentless promotion of Vieux Pontarlier (hmmmmm), this is one of the best--and most accurate--books on our favorite beverage I've read.

And the cocktails are killer. A Taste for Absinthe re-jiggers the recipes for a number of classic absinthe cocktails (Arsenic and Old Lace, Cocktail a la Louisiane) to wonderful effect and introduces a number of fantastic contemporary drinks. My favorites so far are the Bitter End and the Iceberg.

Good stuff!
"Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot" -- Charlie Chaplin

#8 Alan Moss

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 01:50 PM

Probably the best absinthe cocktail book out so far, although there's competition coming out with Imbibe's Kate Simon bringing out another cocktail book in a couple of weeks.

I now have the Kate Simon book, and will be reviewing it soon. I think the Taste for Absinthe is the better of the two, although both are better than any other absinthe cocktail book.
www.laclandestine.com: Hand-crafted in the birthplace of absinthe.

#9 Brian Robinson

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 04:48 PM

After reading through the book, I decided to take a look at the website.

For someone who is claiming their website is the world's foremost authority on absinthe, he certainly has a terrible site. Almost all of the products reviewed are Czechsinthe or mid to low quality brands. Yikes.
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#10 AiO

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 06:02 PM

Yeah, the site is pretty dire.

Luckily, the buyer's guide in the back of the book is much better. The worst you get there is Mata Hari and La Fee.

Perhaps TF and Peter Schaf are behind the improvements. They seem to have had a hand in the product placement at any rate. ;)
"Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot" -- Charlie Chaplin

#11 Retrogarde

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Posted 26 November 2010 - 09:09 PM

I was holding this book in my hands today, considering buying it, but I knew I needed to check here first (the WS instinct kicking in I guess). Glad to hear it's worth buying since it is so damn pretty. Pretty and useful? I'm sold! :cheers:
The basic tools of the absintheur are essentially a spoon, glass, sugar cube, chilled water, and absinthe. None of the other objects are actually necessary to prepare the drink, but they are imperative for instigating a type of visual hypnosis and bringing richness to the ceremony.
--Betina J. Wittels

#12 fingerpickinblue

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Posted 26 November 2010 - 09:43 PM

Mom wanted to know what I wanted for Christmas today. Well... :rolleyes:
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#13 AiO

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 05:17 AM

Hopefully mom regularly checks your forum postings!

It really is a fine book. New favorite recipes: Monkey Gland No. 2 (best Monkey Gland I've had), Lawhill, North by Northwest, and Death at Dusk. All sorts of goodies I haven't even gotten to yet!

I'm curious about the Kate Simon book now too...
"Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot" -- Charlie Chaplin

#14 Alan Moss

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 06:04 AM

Which is reviewed here.
www.laclandestine.com: Hand-crafted in the birthplace of absinthe.

#15 thegreenimp

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 08:51 AM

After reading through the book, I decided to take a look at the website.

For someone who is claiming their website is the world's foremost authority on absinthe, he certainly has a terrible site. Almost all of the products reviewed are Czechsinthe or mid to low quality brands. Yikes.


Who do you think "The Winston" was named after...

http://www.feeverte....h...pic=111&hl=
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#16 pierreverte

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 04:24 PM

good thing then that he actually contributed very little to the final contents...
Absinthe is always greener in the other glass.™

#17 AiO

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 06:35 AM

OK, so I was out shopping with the family down in Towson, MD yesterday and stopped by the local Barnes and Noble on a whim. Checked out the wine and spirits shelf in the Food and Cooking section and what should I see but:

Posted Image

Nice!

I had the chance to flip through Absinthe Cocktails (AC) at home last night and do a quick comparison with A Taste for Absinthe (ATFA).

First impressions: As Alan points out in his review (nicely done, by the way), there are a number of similarities between the two books. Both are essentially absinthe cocktail books that also offer a little background about the spirit, a primer on its traditional preparation, and a buying guide by brand. Both divide their cocktails into "classics" and "contemporaries" and there are a number of cocktails that appear in both, including the Sazerac (of course), Monkey Gland, Pan-American Clipper, Remember the Maine, Corpse Reviver #2, Doctor Funk, My Oh My Ty, Gill Sans, Night Porter, and a few others (including the basic recipes for frappe, suisesse, etc.). This isn't a huge deal, though, since the recipes are different in several cases and also because there are many other recipes unique to each book.

As for the total number of recipes, AC offers 50 while ATFA offers 65 by my count. ATFA also offers more in the way of history and background. It's the longer and more detailed of the two books. It's also the more generous in terms of its layout, including photos of every drink (which I really appreciate) and giving most of the cocktails a full two pages to themselves (one page for recipe, the other for the photo). AC has some great photos too, but only every couple of pages. Finally, the buyer's guide in ATFA is much longer and more detailed, with tasting notes, pricing, etc. (though it's worth noting that the guides in both books are limited to the absinthe brands that are currently available on the US market, which means no Jades other than N-O, no Emile Pernot, etc.).

On the other hand, AC has a few things going for it as well. In general, though I prefer the layout of ATFA, I like the graphic design of AC better. It's more baroque and antique-looking (especially with the dust jacket off), more like a classic cocktail book. The prose is a bit purple at points (example: "Absinthe was burned at the stake and pronounced dead, but it was really just taking a ninety-year nap"), but like ATFA Simon's book is essentially factual and does a good job of working to dispel all the myths surrounding absinthe and to distinguish between real absinthe and fakesinthe. I also like the fact that AC includes many different specific brand recommendations in the cocktail recipes (rather than recipe after recipe recommending Vieux Pontarlier) AND the fact that it singles out several important contemporary mixologists like Toby Maloney, Chris Hannah, and Jim Meehan and gives us a few cocktail recipes by each rather than just one apiece. Finally, there are some fantastic cocktail recipes in here than you won't find in ATFA. I was pleasantly surprised to see the recipe for Maloney's drink, Vincent's Ruin, which I enjoyed when I visited the Patterson House in Nashville this past summer--along with a few other contemporary recipes I'm familiar with and more a look forward to trying. There's also new versions of classic recipes that I can't wait to try, including one for the Chrysanthemum that uses blanco vermouth instead of the usual dry. Genius!

I guess if I had to recommend one over the other, it would be A Taste for Absinthe. But I'm very glad to have both and foresee using each of them quite a bit.
"Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot" -- Charlie Chaplin

#18 pierreverte

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 07:34 AM

It should be noted that the absinthes that might be recommended in recipes in ATFA were selected by the bartenders themselves, there was no attempt to coerce them to choose one brand over another.
Out of 65 recipes, I count 7 that call specifically for Vieux Pontarlier.
Absinthe is always greener in the other glass.™

#19 AiO

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 05:54 PM

It's true that only 7 out of the 65 recipes in ATFA specifically call for VP, but this doesn't quite tell the whole story. First, although 7 sounds like a relatively small number, it's almost twice as often as any other verte is recommended in the book. I counted 4 recommendations each for St. George and Pernod; most other vertes that appear by brand name in the book (Obsello and Duplais among them) are recommended only once. I'd also point out that it's not just cocktail recipes from name mixologists that call for VP; 1 of the 7 drinks mentioned above is the book's "recipe" for the traditional absinthe drip, which recommends using VP and is not attributed to anyone (one infers that it is simply the book's recommendation).

Furthermore, I think it's only fair to note that VP isn't just featured by ATFA in the aforementioned cocktail recipes. It's also featured prominently in the book's photos, appearing several times throughout (pp. 11, 20, 143). The only other absinthe brand that appears in a photo is Duplais, which shows up once. Both are, of course, distributed by TF.

Likewise, VP is singled out in the text of the book. It's the only contemporary brand of absinthe mentioned by name in the book's Absinthe Primer, which touts it as the one brand of absinthe available in the US that uses Pontarlier wormwood. It's also the only brand in book's Absinthe Buying Guide whose tasting notes are accompanied by a critical accolade: "This authentic absinthe has been considered by a well-regarded critic as 'the Gold Standard for the Absinthe category.'" The book merely notes whether the other brands listed are a good value or not; no mention of awards or quotes from "well-regarded critics."

Cumulatively, all of this suggests (to me, anyway) that ATFA has an interest in promoting the VP brand. This isn't surprising given TF's involvement in the book, which is forthrightly mentioned in the book's Acknowledgments: "...John Troia and Peter Schaff [owners of Tempus Fugit Spirits and Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe] were insightful, generous with their resources and contacts, and always ready to help."

There's nothing inherently wrong with any of this--I don't see it as evil, unethical, etc. I just find it a little irksome that other brands of absinthe aren't featured as prominently as VP. One of the things I like about Absinthe Cocktails is that it's a bit more democratic in its recommendations and product placement.
"Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot" -- Charlie Chaplin

#20 Brian Robinson

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 06:21 PM

I have no problem with TF products being featured more prominently given their involvement. Especially since they are well regarded products in the first place.

I find it much more irksome that Winston and his site will be getting a lot of attention with such a well constructed book, even though there are much better online resources available elsewhere. :pirate: his site will not do any justice to well made products.
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#21 AiO

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 06:40 PM

Agreed. Like you, I'm happy that Guthrie and Thompson chose to collaborate with TF as opposed to, say, the folks at Pernod.

I'm simply making the point that TF's products are featured more prominently in ATFA than other, equally good products and that this is something that distinguishes it from AC.

As to whether or not Winston's site will be getting a lot of traffic as a result of ATFA, I'm not so sure. I don't remember the site being heavily promoted in the book--is it?

Edited by AiO, 29 November 2010 - 06:42 PM.

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#22 Alan Moss

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 12:11 AM

I find it much more irksome that Winston and his site will be getting a lot of attention with such a well constructed book, even though there are much better online resources available elsewhere. :pirate: his site will not do any justice to well made products.

Winston's site doesn't need too much help from the book: it's been one of the top Google results for "absinthe" for some time. Winston tells me that the Guide will be updated to reflect both the current US market and European absinthes.
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#23 Brian Robinson

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 07:57 AM

But will his opinions of the crap on his site be updated as well? ;)
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#24 m.a.mccullough

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 10:13 AM

I will update it for him. The :poop: is :poop: If it smells like :poop: feels like :poop: and tastes like :poop: then it is in fact :poop: That is how one would deduce that. ;)
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#25 Alan Moss

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 06:37 AM

I find it much more irksome that Winston and his site will be getting a lot of attention with such a well constructed book, even though there are much better online resources available elsewhere. :pirate: his site will not do any justice to well made products.

It's getting there. Looking at the site now, it is clear that he is moving that way. The US section is not yet finished (more brands to be included), but the separation of the various styles seems good.
www.laclandestine.com: Hand-crafted in the birthplace of absinthe.


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