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This Week in Happy Hour: Absinthe Edition


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#1 JosephLabrecque

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 05:59 PM

The included photo is dominated by proper brands! I even spy the new Marteau bottle, there:

 

http://www.seattleme...on-august-2013#

 

Article seems a bit cocktail-heavy... but is positive :)



#2 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 08:15 PM

It's almost as if they had some local coaching, huh?   :devil:  Between Marc and myself, we keep the better local spots on their toes when it comes to absinthe.  But still, our work is never done: I run across over-pourers, under-waterers (and yes, sugar-burners) all the time.

 

That picture was taken at Le Zinc, which is owned by the same folks as Maximilien, where I was doing table-side absinthe service last fall.

 

Article seems a bit cocktail-heavy... but is positive

 

That's the way bars use it the most.  When you don't serve it properly, or you offer low quality brands, you get few repeat requests, and damned few real absinthe-drinking regulars.


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#3 gee13

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 02:50 AM

Did Le Zinc light yours on fire? Hehehh.. Cmon baby light my fire... :)

#4 Evan Camomile

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 04:34 PM

When you don't serve it properly, or you offer low quality brands, you get few repeat requests, and damned few real absinthe-drinking regulars.

Bar owners take note.


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#5 gee13

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 01:13 AM

Jokes aside ..why would we bother how others consume this drink beyond what we hold as true traditional techniques. I mean if someone in the Appalachians decide to drink islay whiskey by funneling is that a crime? Im all for education rather than misinformation, but perhaps help me understand why we need to be the moral holders of the torch. Each to their own? Im all partial to flaming here.... as I consume my Authentique and Roquette in the utmost traditional sense ..Belle Epoque fountain, traditional spoon and glass et al..

#6 Brian Robinson

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 03:45 AM

The most effective way to educate the public about absinthe is to start with the basics. And part of the basics is to show how it is properly prepared to be enjoyed the way it was intended.

Considering many bars prepare it incorrectly (to the point where it isn't enjoyable), they are damaging the prospects of absinthe becoming more popular. Not unlike many other things in the culinary or spirits world, if your first introduction to something isn't very enjoyable, the less likely you are to order it again.
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#7 gee13

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 04:40 AM

So if I am hearing you right Brian its all about the re-popularisation of the drink?

Somehow Im rather enjoying the cult status it has presently. I could be the only person bar one or three in the whole of my state (2.5 million) who consumes good asinthe the traditional way. In a place where the common denominator is cheap plonk for the masses I cant really imagine in another century that absinthe will hold a common place in my society. Is this a good or bad thing? I think neither.. I just really cannot see the average aussie larrikin or family dripping some iced water over some fine Jade Combiers let alone sub standard Pernod Fils 65 over picnic lunch or bbq. Will it become more popular in the US because of education and re-popularisation programs in bars? Well the future is the answer perhaps. Lastly Im keen to find an answer from the heartland itself... France ... how many French people now drink absinthe traditionally like their grandparents did???

#8 Brian Robinson

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 05:46 AM

So if I am hearing you right Brian its all about the re-popularisation of the drink?

It's about removing the image that absinthe is something that tastes terrible that people 'tried once when in Prague'.  It's about people realizing there's nothing to fear from absinthe.  It's about teaching people that it's not a drug, and won't make you sick or crazy.  And above all else, it's about showing people that a properly prepared glass of absinthe (or properly constructed cocktail containing absinthe) actually TASTES GOOD.  It's not something you need to suffer through.  

 

If bartenders are preparing it improperly, it won't do them, or the drink itself any favors, as it will turn off consumers.

 

You may like the cult status, but without a larger consumer base, the influx of new and better brands we've been seeing lately won't continue.  Producers won't continue to develop better and better brands if no one is drinking them.

 

I don't drink absinthe because other people think it's taboo, or because I think it makes me stand out as someone different from the masses.  I feel lucky in that my introduction to absinthe was in a situation where it had never been banned, and it was commonplace to drink it.  I came to like it for what it was, BEFORE I knew anything about its history.  I wasn't drawn to it because of some taboo allure or counterculture movement.

 

 

 

I started drinking it because it tastes good.  That's it.  Plain and simple.


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#9 JosephLabrecque

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 05:49 AM

I'm all for re-popularization - but I think the main objective is to correct any misconceptions and to inform and educate on proper (and responsible) use.

 

Every time I talk to someone about absinthe for the first time and they tell me "Oh, I had the real stuff in Prague this one time - flaming shots - wouldn't drink it again since it tastes so awful" ... "the stuff in the US isn't real like in Europe - they can't use the drug that makes you hallucinate over here" ... *sigh*



#10 Brian Robinson

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 05:50 AM

Lastly Im keen to find an answer from the heartland itself... France ... how many French people now drink absinthe traditionally like their grandparents did???

 

Old stereotypes and propagandistic ideas die hard.  Most French people are still quite against absinthe, or think it's still illegal.  Mainly because France (along with Switzerland of course) was the heartland for the anti-absinthe campaign.

 

We have a harder battle there than we do here.

 

But that's what we are here for.


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#11 JosephLabrecque

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 05:51 AM

Ha - Brian and I both explicitly mention Prague - in the span on 3 minutes! See how bad things are?!?



#12 gee13

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 10:13 AM

The strange irony is that it was this *Prague* that was the link for me too. My brother in law wanted a bottle as my mum was visiting so she got me one too. I was sure that after that experience there would be something better so I did a little research and thats got me to what Im drinking now. I guess repopularisation is good for the producers and as I said before Im all for education and myth debunking though it seems like an uphill battle in a world entrenched with beer, wine and other spirits. And where the ghosts of the past still lurk in mythology and misplaced truths.

For your money in the US at least you have a community of producers along with more bars serving it. You also have bottleshops serving real absinthe. And a history of absinthe in the country. Here theres no availability from the local shop (except for a couple of suppliers in sydney and melbourne). Theres some bottles avail from bottleshops with no wormwood content where I live in WA. Im not sure why they call it absinthe. In Melbourne there are some bars and restaurants that serve absinthe. Theres one retailer that stocks fauxsinthe but also Mansinthe and Kübler. In those bars we are looking at brands like Mansinthe, la Fee, Absente, Doubs (premium) and Pernod Fils 65 as a staple but also other Czech varieties. You ll find proper preparations here though Im not sure of serving protocols in other smaller bars. Fortunately for me my experience is limited to a few drinks from that fauxsinthe bottle. Because of this it wasnt long before I was drinking real absinthe.

Edited by gee13, 04 September 2013 - 10:26 AM.


#13 Evan Camomile

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 09:57 AM

You may like the cult status, but without a larger consumer base, the influx of new and better brands we've been seeing lately won't continue.  Producers won't continue to develop better and better brands if no one is drinking them.

This is one of the most prominent examples of why we need to "carry the torch". I've talked with enough old absintheurs who remember when dyed La Fee and Mata Hari were the best commercial brands that you could get back in the day. Granted it came from the "you youngin's have it easy" conversation but the effect of education on the market still stands. We wouldn't be drinking Roquette and Authentique, or Jades and Pacifique, or Vilya or million other brands if distillers couldn't sell. If people weren't educated then the Prague scene of dyed vodka and flames would hold sway and the dark ages would reign where what we consider crap now, would actually be king.

 

The only reason we can enjoy great absinthe now is because of a more educated market. Period. There's enough horror stories and other weirdness from green prohibition history to validate how bad things used to be.

 

If other people want cult status then they can do what most cults do and cling to the myths. On one level I appreciate this but I get my super secret elitist club fix elsewhere, where it does benefit me. Bad absinthe rarely benefits anyone, and so good absinthe shouldn't be a "super secret, members only, O M G we R kewl" type of thing.

 

Theres some bottles avail from bottleshops with no wormwood content where I live in WA. Im not sure why they call it absinthe.

Because the market there isn't educated enough to know, and they can get away with it. A prime example of why education and carrying the torch is still necessary.


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#14 TheLoucheyMonster!

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 10:47 AM

Hell, even if the number of absinthe drinkers increased tenfold, it will still be small cult-y niche beverage. less than 1% of the booz market.



#15 JosephLabrecque

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 03:25 PM

I feel very fortunate to have such great access to absinthe: stroll down to the local shop and grab some Leopolds... order from an online retailer and get a couple bottles from a variety of locals in a week. We have it GOOD.

 

Imagine if we could even hit 1% the sort of access we would have ;)



#16 Aaronjw

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 10:48 AM

I would love to get it out of the "cult" status it's in right now.  There are some brands out there that I would love to try, but unfortunately, it's not as simple as it is to say "I'd like to try this particular kind of whisky, let me run to the liquor store and grab a bottle," at least where I live (back and forth between Arkansas and Texas).  All the liquor stores ever carry is Lucid, Absente, etc.  If I want a bottle of Pacifique (or Vieux Carre, which I really want to give a try), I'm going to have to order online, which involves adding another fifteen dollars or so of shipping.



#17 gee13

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 05:30 AM

I wonder if Absinthe was the 'Beer' of todays society what would happen. Every tom dick and harry and first time teenage drinkers sloshing around in it drinking any way it can be taken. Thats where quality control may go awry and there would be mass production scales of low quality crud like cheap beer. (Hangon didnt this happen before the 'BAN'?)

 

Of course there will be those producers who still hold true to the traditions of the fine distilling - just like today there still exist boutique hand craft beers and fine highland whiskys amongst the lowest common denominator mass scale crud. But If this drink takes off beyond repopularisation on a mass scale (like Pacman in the 80s) - Then how would one keep up with educating the masses on what is the 'right' or 'wrong' way to prepare absinthe? 

 

I guess the odds of this scenario happening in our lifetime is as high as Turkmenistan winning the Football World Cup.. or perhaps there only a B-Grade Horror Zombie Movie to be made of it.. :twitchsmile:



#18 TheLoucheyMonster!

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 02:13 PM

, . mass production scales of low quality crud like cheap beer. (Hangon didnt this happen before the 'BAN'?)

It seems kind of ironic, BUT...

today we make cheep crud in factories on a large scale, but back then in was basements, warehouses..

Back before the ban, the mass producers were the giants like Pernod. 

See Hartsmar's post here for how much Pernod alone could have produced:http://www.feeverte....wtopic=4560&hl=

 

Pernod alone could have made 2/3 of France's production??  Well, lets be conservative and cut that in half for the sake of argument.

Now add to that 3 or 4 of Pernod's next big brand competition.  From that, we can guess that the cheep crap producers actually had a small market share in France.

Also from what I have read in old newspapers cheep crap booze production was done locally and on a small scale.  A small warehouse  producer would make enough to be loaded onto a horse wagon and supply a handfull of taverns in the neighborhood.  You couldn't move a horse drawn wagon very far or fast in a crowded city.

 

 

As for today's market, you can find cheep $15 a bottle of plonksinth allready.  But these have to compete with the broad vodka catagory, and actually these plonky brands are just another form of flavored vodka. These brands will likely only continue to sell strongly in countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Eastern Europe, and South America.  Places where a cheep anise flavor is marketable. 



#19 gee13

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 03:59 PM

So now im curious what actually was the quality of the standard mass production..say of the base level Ordinaire from the pre ban era which I assume the masses were drinking. Did any of these bottles survive? Louchey when I talk about 'cheep crap' my definition is geared toward mass production of low grade. This could be from a big company. Im not sure about US beer lines but here in Australia low grade beer is Emu and also XXXX lager, both produced by CUB and Castlemaine which have some better than average beer lines in production.

#20 TheLoucheyMonster!

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 12:52 AM

  Pernod was the standard of mass production.

Most absinthe was made by the big companies, in big distilleries.

The masses, then were drinking good absinthe. 

 

The crap was for the poorest of the working classes it seems.  (who drank more cheep wine and brandy than absinthe)

And the crap was made on a small scale.   On the spot, or a few blocks   from the shop.  Bottles didn't survive for starters because it never was bottled.  It went from still to barrel or demijohn, to customer's glass.



#21 gee13

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 01:00 AM

Yeah understood the barrels to carafes/glasses for other ranges (as you say lower quality) but still wondering what the quality of the Ordinaire was in comparison with Superieure. Given the masses drank Ordinaire and that was meant to be pretty
good.. must have been happy days in those days

#22 Brian Robinson

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 03:51 AM

Given the masses drank Ordinaire

Source?
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#23 gee13

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 05:34 AM

Just an assumption Brian, thats why I mention 'given that'. Id like to know more about what was the common variety. Perhaps if you can point me to any resources for this, or if you know for a fact what was the common drink. Surely the masses were not drinking Superiuere on a regular basis, maybe Fine or Demi-Fine? Or did the masses drink Superiuere and other varieties on a common basis?


Edited by gee13, 12 September 2013 - 05:38 AM.


#24 Brian Robinson

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 08:32 AM

Sorry, I misunderstood.

 

"Given that" is typically a phrase used as assuming that something is fact.  

 

The resources for the information have already been given above.  Based on production records, it would be reasonable to assume that most of the supply in the French market was dominated by Pernod and its competitors which had similar quality standards.  Although after the 1860s, some of the other larger brands switched from grape base to other base alcohols due to the price increases exacted after the phylloxera epidemic, they still maintained high standards regarding herb bill.  At least, to the best of my knowledge.

 

The major fault I see in the calculations that were done on the Fee Verte thread linked above, is that they didn't take into consideration the amount produced by Pernod for export.  But that said, knowing how many other brands were in production during that time, we still can surmise a pretty large percentage of available absinthe in France was of at least decent quality.


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#25 TheLoucheyMonster!

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 08:53 AM

The terms such as ordinare fine, and superiuere, were used to denote the alcohol level.  A superiuere could have had the right alcohol level and still be bad.

 

You really can't tell much from those terms. 



#26 gee13

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 01:35 PM

Yes thanks, and Brian what I probably should have written was 'assuming that'. Time machine just comes to mind if only one could access to turn back the clock and visit the late 1800s.

Louchey I get that now. Just curious why we see a lot of superiuere labelled on a lot of todays lines but not any of the other descriptions. Theres certainly a range of alcohol levels now ranging from 45% to about 80%?

#27 Ambear

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 07:52 AM

Hell, even if the number of absinthe drinkers increased tenfold, it will still be small cult-y niche beverage. less than 1% of the booz market.

 
Just given the plain and simple fact that a lot of people hate the taste of anise...it's most likely going to continue to be a niche beverage. I have no problem getting people to try real absinthe and understand what real absinthe is, but they're not usually interested in having a glass of their own.

 

Pernod was the standard of mass production.
Most absinthe was made by the big companies, in big distilleries.
The masses, then were drinking good absinthe.

 

The French aren't really known for their tolerance of insipid flavors, are they?  :fork:


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#28 brennivin

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 03:00 PM

Sorry - back on the original topic, the aforementioned Maximilien, which is not of the four in the article, has a happy (green) hour special - $5 absinthe - great way to try something you haven't!




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