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#1 stardust

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 03:29 PM

So I was in New York this weekend, and I was excited to stop by a bar called Ward III, as I knew they carried both Walton Waters and Meadow of Love.

I have to say i was a bit underwhelmed by their absinthe preparation. They had no fountain, no absinthe goblets or anything of the sort. Friday, the bartender handed me a glass of absinthe, a glass of water a glass of ice cubes, a sugar cube and an absinthe spoon. I was at least appreciative of that, as I'd rather prepare it than have someone who isn't familiar with the process messing it up. Saturday, on the other hand, was a travesty.

I ordered a glass of absinthe for myself and a friend, and the cocktail waitress looked at me like I had two heads. She went to talk to the bartender, and then came back and said, "Um, yeah, we don't have that." I replied, "You don't have absinthe? Because I'm pretty sure I was here 24 hours ago and you had both Walton Waters and Meadow of Love." She responds, "Oh, we don't have the stuff to drip the absinthe." I asked her to just bring me the glasses and the water and the ice and the sugar. She went back to the bar, came back, and said, "Oh, he'll do it. We only have one spoon."

So I wait patiently for our glasses of absinthe, and my friend and I are engaged in conversation, catching up on old times, when I glance over and notice half the bar on fire. Apparently they tried flaming the absinthe, and it got out of control. My friend asks, "Are those our drinks?"

I have never had such an appreciation for absinthe preparation in my favorite L.A. bars as I had that night. I've heard good things about Ward III, but I was embarrassed to be a part of that spectacle on Saturday. And Walton Waters, of all things! I think I'm going to tip my bartenders at the Edison and Varnish a bit more upon my next visits.

#2 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 03:32 PM

*bleak sigh*

We still have such a long way to go.

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#3 Ambear

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 03:32 PM

Oh dear. :thumbdown:

We went one place where their recommended method of louching was using cocktail straws and a glass of water, stopping up the straws and dribbling the water into the absinthe as we saw fit. :3869-sadbanana:
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#4 Absomphe

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 03:48 PM

*bleak sigh*

We still have such a long way to go.


Ain't it the truth. :fork:

Yes, I'm Krinkles the Clown on an absinthe a beer bender.

You got a problem with that?


#5 stardust

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 03:49 PM

Oh dear. :thumbdown:

We went one place where their recommended method of louching was using cocktail straws and a glass of water, stopping up the straws and dribbling the water into the absinthe as we saw fit. :3869-sadbanana:


Hey, I'd prefer that to seeing, of all things, Walton Waters going up in a blazing blue inferno, being extinguished with a pitcher of water to get the bar fire under control...

#6 Père Ubu

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 03:54 PM

That 'bartender' should not call himself a bartender. Used to be such folks took pride in their knowledge of booze.

#7 Absomphe

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 03:58 PM

Indeed.

And he probably doesn't refer to himself as a 'bartender', butt rather a 'mixologist'. :poop:

Yes, I'm Krinkles the Clown on an absinthe a beer bender.

You got a problem with that?


#8 peridot

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 03:59 PM

Buying absinthe in a bar or restaurant is more often than not an expensive lesson in disappointment. Which is why I never do.

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#9 stardust

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 04:03 PM

I feel like I owe it to myself to try a glass of the Meadow of Love more properly; but there aren't any bars in L.A. that serve it (to my knowledge), which means ordering a bottle online. But for now, Walton Waters is still my favorite.

#10 Brian Robinson

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 04:14 PM

I'm very surprised by this. The bartender must have been new or something, because Ward III is very well respected and the bartenders that I've interacted with have created wonderful drinks.

I know that Cheryl has spent some time with them as well, so I'm inclined to believe that this is not their normal practice.
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#11 TheLoucheyMonster!

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 04:16 PM

It looks like drink burning is actually illegal in NYC according to this article

Fine should be double for WW!

#12 stardust

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 04:21 PM

I'm very surprised by this. The bartender must have been new or something, because Ward III is very well respected and the bartenders that I've interacted with have created wonderful drinks.

I know that Cheryl has spent some time with them as well, so I'm inclined to believe that this is not their normal practice.


That's what I thought, and why I was so disappointed.

My first experience with Ward III was when the Edison in Los Angeles had a night where they had invited bartenders from from Ward III to make their specialty drinks, which were quite impressive. I also follow Delaware Phoenix Distillery on Facebook, and I noticed the page mention Ward III on more than one occasion. So I had high hopes that I would enjoy a well prepared glass of absinthe. But the flaming and lighting the bar on fire thing was extremely discouraging.

#13 Evan Camomile

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 04:58 PM

All too common still. Even though there are bars that "serve" absinthe here none of them have so much as a fountain or even a brouilleur. I asked what brands were carried at one place and the poor new girl told me Herbsaint was absinthe. :nono:

The 'Absinthe House' in Boulder didn't even have absinthe glasses until recently, even though they've been around since 2008.

It's come to the point where I talk absinthe history up with the bartender so that they just hand me a drink and tell me to "do it" since I'm the "expert".

If I'm an expert to a bartender (or anyone) at "The Absinthe House" then yes, there is a really long way to go.

I think more WS members should take trips to bars. A personal conversation with a bartender could do more than shoving flyers at people. After all, these people are the soul of the beverage industry.

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#14 tami

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 12:01 PM

Y'all do know, speaking of the Absinthe House, that the Old Absinthe House in NOLA burns theirs, how sad is that?

#15 Brian Robinson

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 12:09 PM

THe owners of the Old Absinthe House in N.O. care nothing about the history of absinthe. It's basically a trashy sports bar now.
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#16 Père Ubu

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 12:16 PM

The Old Absinthe House has been a joke since its new beginings. I remember when it was opened, looking at it and seeing NOTHING that attracted me to it. Too much $$$ to be made from idiotic kids, to worry about a decent absinthe atmosphere.

I prefer its previous Old Absinthe House Bar iteration with the Braille Blues Daddy and his band. I might have been ignorant about the fountains, but the atmosphere and music were awesome.

I prefer a cheesy place like the dungeon than the new Absinthe House.

#17 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 12:59 PM

The same people that own the Old Absinthe House also own the plethora of "daiquiri" bars all over the Quarter, putting flavor syrups in a Slushee machine with Everclear. Compared with the other cheesy binge-bars in the quarter, I can't believe the OAH turns over anywhere near as much business.

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#18 Tang!

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 01:08 PM

Wow- I read this and.. was left shaking my head. FLAMES! Good God Man! If that is not a BIG RED FLAG telling you to leave a place I don't know what is?

All of this beaing said - .. I was wondering if there is an actual WS Approved list of places that serve absinthe and serve it WELL? It might become a tool later on to help bartenders "get on the list" - but aside from that, it would be great to know about places where peopel can go and have a positive experience.

I spoke with a bartender the other night from LV - and she told me with a straight face that she just pours it over ice and mixes a sugar packet in when she's done. "Thats how you mix absinthe ... right?"

I told her .. "Perhaps.. but I've never really heard of that before.. this is what I have heard about and done...."

So- is there a "WS approved" list started somewhere already?

#19 nny12345

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 01:25 PM

I feel your pain man. We've had a number of pretty solid cajun resturaunts open up that carry a few decent if not great absinthes and every time I order it I regret it. The staff has no idea what it's for besides that it's "in a hand grenade" and my best attempt was a night I convinced them to bring be a glass of ice water and some sugar. I actually caught one of the staff in a local liquor store and basically had to pick out bottle for her so she didn't leave with "green apple jolly rancher" tinted grain alcohol.

I was also sad as some of the rest of you have already noted to find the old absinthe house covered in budweiser banners and tv's the last time I was there as well. I stopped and had a drink despite it just to say I had been there, but it was a far cry from the romantic notion of earlier times, or at least drinking in the same spot as Crowley.

#20 Père Ubu

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 01:54 PM

Tang, the sugar packet is not offensive, but the ice is. Here is why.

#21 Ambear

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 01:58 PM

Kinda. It's perfectly fine to louche a glass over a cube of ice, or with ice water, or to even toss a cube into the drink itself (although this messes with the dilution, once melted.)

This is not to say the bottle of absinthe should be kept in the refrigerator or freezer.
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#22 tami

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 01:59 PM

re: WS approved bars... something similar can be found in this thread

http://wormwoodsocie...?showtopic=6878

#23 Père Ubu

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 03:01 PM

Kinda. It's perfectly fine to louche a glass over a cube of ice, or with ice water, or to even toss a cube into the drink itself (although this messes with the dilution, once melted.)

This is not to say the bottle of absinthe should be kept in the refrigerator or freezer.

A few folks have had bad experiences with ice in anise flavored booze before louching. After louching it is fine, and common in hot climates.

Edited by Miguel, 26 July 2011 - 03:02 PM.


#24 Brian Robinson

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 05:18 PM

Absinthe frappe, anyone? :pirate:
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#25 peridot

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 06:09 PM

Me me me me me me me me :wave2:

Never had a problem with ice in absinthe. Only with absinthe stored in the freezer.

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#26 Père Ubu

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 07:37 PM

I always wondered about that. But not to much, not being much of a barfly. I did go to bars in my early twenties, but booze quality wasn't an issue back then.

Edited by Miguel, 27 July 2011 - 03:04 AM.


#27 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 08:23 PM

is there a "WS approved" list started somewhere already?

I think it would be unwise—not to mention arrogant—to list "approved" bars, or even recommended ones, for the simple reasons that bars change staff frequently, and these posts will be here for years. One uninformed bartender shouldn't be able to permanent tarnish the reputation of the bar. We have a forum section that should serve as a guide to where members have received good absinthe service, though.

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#28 alexlikesabsinthe

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 11:56 PM

Wow, I'm amazed how similar this experience was to one of my own.

I was in Manhattan not long ago, and wanted to try Meadow of Love before committing to a bottle. I went to "The Rum House" since it was fairly close and I had read some good reviews of it. The first bartender I spoke with was absolutely convinced that the bar didn't have any absinthe available (he even seemed a little offended or shocked, and I'm pretty sure he had a French accent -- I find this kind of amusing in hindsight). The Rum House is listed on Cheryl's website, so I was pretty doubtful of this man. I spoke with a waitress next, who was friendly but clearly uninformed. She went to the bar to speak with who I assume was the manager of the place: "We don't have any absinthe, do we?" "We do," he replied. Finally! ...But that wasn't the end of it. First the manager guy asked me if I wanted water with my MoL. Uhh, yes. He then handed me three tumbler glasses -- one with a shot of MoL, one with ice cubes, and one with water... no mention of a sugar cube, and no spoon (couldn't they even give me a single glass for the ice AND the water?!). Pouring slowly from one tumbler to another is no easy task. I made a bit of a mess of the bar counter, which was embarrassing since the place was quite cramped, and my louche was far from ideal. The drink cost $14 I believe, but I handed the waitress $20 and said "keep the change" just so I could get the hell out of there as quickly as possible (not my smartest decision ever, admittedly). On the upside, at least it was a quality absinthe.

I think Cheryl needs to have a long chat with whoever's in charge there on her next delivery.

Edited by alexlikesabsinthe, 21 August 2011 - 12:00 AM.


#29 OMG_Bill

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 05:56 AM

Most all of us have run into that kind of stuff at bars. I don't advise people to try absinthe at bars but I do volunteer to share my booze and see that their first experience isn't awful.
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.

#30 Zzz

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 03:29 PM

what bars do you recommend in LA?
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