Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Rant of the day - real absinthe is NOT for burning!




I've been reading more absinthe horror stories on the web. It seems that many of these bad experiences of absinthe are because of drinking the wrong sort, i.e. drinking Czech absinth. Originally absinthe was from Switzerland and then from France. The area around the Swiss/French border has the best growing conditions for some of the main plants, including wormwood.

In the 1990's, Czech products called absinth, but with very little similarity, first appeared. Most play on the fact that it should be flamed and burnt, showing how little respect the Czech distillers have for their own creations, and building a negative image for the whole category.

Now real absinthe has returned, much of it from its original birthplace in the Val-de-Travers region of Switzerland. There is an ever-expanding group of absinthe lovers all over the world, drinking absinthe for its taste and not for its effects. And this is how to prepare real absinthe: no burning, please.

There is also the option, as favoured in Switzerland, to add just cold, fresh water. No sugar at all.

Now real absinthe is legal to buy in every non-Muslim country in the world except for the USA. And as people discover the pleasures of drinking real absinthe in the right way, it will probably get even more popular. Santé!


ThomG said...

Alan, when the time comes, you will be my guide. I promise (my buddy drank homemade absinthe on New Year's Eve and still isn't right).

Saadia said...

Hi, Alan!
Thanks for leaving a comment on my page.
I can't believe you have a whole BLOG devoted to Absinthe!
How cool!

Anonymous said...

Damn. First you question my ability to send cow manure through the postal service as a form of retribution and now you insult my ancestral home, Czechoslavakia?

Is nothing sacred?

On a more serious note, can I buy absinthe from an international company and have it shipped to America or is that illegal too?

Ann said...

Hi there. Yes, we were having absinthe in Singapore. Absinthe is allowed in Singapore but the ones containing wormwood is still banned. The one I showed in my blog is Teichenné Absinthe Green, from Spain... and well, this is one of the few best you can get in this restricted country :)

Jeff Rutsch said...

Hi Alan. You left a comment on my blog and asked about absinthe's prospects in Shanghai. I'd guess the market is very small, mostly Americans ex-pats who have heard of absinthe but can't get it at home. The gross Czech stuff probably markets it about right: bright green with an attractive label, not so expensive.

Except for a very few international alcohol companies,that spend a whole lot on advertising, Western hard alcohol is not at all popular with Chinese people in Shanghai.

This blog gets me very curious about absinthe. I'll have to search down a quality bottle somehow. Definitely I hope you do start sending some out here!

Gwan said...

Hi, thanks for the comment on my blog. As I wrote on my page, I'm used to Czech absinthe from spending a few months in Prague (I think the Czech Republic's great, don't worry Jenny) and burning it's the only way to go. Obviously not for the purists, but it's so much fun!

Anonymous said...

Well, Absinthe is delicious... In Portugal you can find Absinthe in the supermarket. ^^

Vince Lucifer said...

I heard wormwood absinthe is unbanned in sg and they are serving it in some bars now... Issit true? or are they just adding colour to the drink to make it seem theres wormwood?? Any1 has any ideas??

Alan said...

Hi Vince,

Yes, I hear you can get some absinthe in Singapore, but I don't know how good they are.

You can get real absinthe in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:

* Taste Vin Wine Shop
No 33, Jalan Berangan, 50250 Kuala Lumpur.

* TWE Retail
No 19, 21 & 23, Jalan 52/ 18
46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor DE.

Anonymous said...

Hello Alan, is it true that we can buy Absinthe from the locations that you mentioned earlier as Im dying to find one since years ago?

Alan said...

Hi Islamic Drinker,

I was given these names by an importer in KL. Another two places for you:

Wabisabi Yakitori Bar
Unit C-1-7, TTDI Plaza, Jalan Wan Kadir 3,
Taman Tun Dr Ismail,
60000 Kuala Lumpur

Gypsy Bar
No 33 Changkat Bukit Bintang
50200 Kuala Lumpur

Get back to me if you can't find it!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for your immediate reply, Alan. Much appreciated. I'll try to look at the shops that you mentioned and will get back to you for the results. Cheers!

baroquepoet said...

Hi Alan,

Do you know if those places actually really sell Absinthe? I am seriously interested in purchasing some good Absinthe. The thing is I checked out the TWE Retail and it is actually listed as a Pharmacy in that particular lot. So I am wondering if you were given the correct information. And I will definately try to hunt out the bars you said serve absinthe. Thank you very much for the information.

Alan said...


The list came straight from the importer. I believe TWE is in various business operations, including liquor and pharmacy products.

I will try to get a phone number for you. Give me a few days to do so.

baroquepoet said...


Definately. No problems. I don't mind spending money on this. I want give absinthe a try, since Tequila and Kahlua are one of my favourite drinks. Plus I love Poe, Van Gogh, Picasso and Wilde. They all ranted about absinthe, time I inspected what was so wonderful about this drink. LOL!!!

baroquepoet said...

Hi Alan,

I have checked Taste Vin Wines. It seems that they might have it as they listed Anise collections on their website. So I might check it out one of these days when I am free. Thank you very much for your help and your blog Alan. It has been really informative.

Alan said...


Some info on TWE. It’s a minimarket that sells traditional Chinese herbs in one section, and on the first floor is a chemist called Unicare Pharmacy. In another section is a bottle shop that sells a wide range wines & spirits including Absinthe.

Phone no: +603 7956 9300.

Sirronald said...

hey Alan...
well just curious the absinth which is available in malaysia or singapore made with southern wormwood or made with grande wormwood ...? 1 more thing what this brand of absinth(absinth tunnel) which is 80% alcohol..?because its available here in russia...

Alan said...

The absinthes in Malaysia (La Clandestine and Angélique) are made with grande wormwood.

Tunel? Read this:

If Tunel is all you can find, I'd recommend you save your money.

Sirronald said...

tnx tunnel is a no buy...1 more thing there's another 1 type of absinth it says thujone containing....what do you think mate...desperate for sum really gud absinth...

Alan said...

Absinthe will normally contain thujone but don't buy absinthe on the basis of the quantity of thujone.

I've had absinthe with 1 part per million thujone and with 330 parts per million: no difference.

Buy on the basis of quality and taste: nothing else matters.

baroquepoet said...

Hi Alan,

I recently had a friend ask me if there is any shops in the US that carry Le Clandistine Absinthe? He came here enjoyed the absinthe I had from Le Clandistine and wondered where he could get it in the US. LOL!! The absinthe fan club is growing.

Brian Robinson said...

Sharon, thanks for the post! Currently, one of the best places to buy absinthe in the US is They ship to almost anywhere in the states.

Many states are also carrying brands in their liquor stores. Just check with them to see if La Clandestine is on their special order list if it isn't on the shelf.


Alan said...

Thanks for posting that, Brian.

Sharon, for the USA, here's a short list of outlets in the first five States selling La Clandestine:

I was in NY, LA and San Francisco recently and the list should be getting longer soon.

Nadya said...

Hi Alan, those 2 address in Malaysia where I can get the Green Fairy from, an I able to get the spoon from there as well?

I'm really ecstatic now to learn I can purchase Absinthe here in Malaysia. Can't wait to try some soon, maybe at La Bodega.

Alan said...

Hi Nadya,

Not sure if they have spoons there. TWE may have some.

They can be reached at 7956-9300

Hope you saw the update on Malaysia too:

Click the links there for more coverage of the launch!

The Thirsty Blogger said...

Wow. Lots of interest in absinthe in Malaysia.
There are a whole lot of outlets in KL that serve it now. Of course it's a lot cheaper at TWE.
U can get d full list from my alcohol blog.

Anonymous said...

Well, actually absinth was supposed to be a cure for all the deseases. And if you look at the ingredients - mostly it's a cure for stomach and flu illnesses. And burning sugar is an ancient flu medicine. My grandmother was given burning|burnt sugar with vodka by her mother.
Also burning absinth - takes out alcohol without taking away the thujone, and a lot of people can't drink such a pure alcohol (70-80%). And if the absinth is a real one - it changes its taste really a lot, if you mix it with water, so if you don't like this altered taste - you burn the alcohol away.
I understand the commercial message in your post - when you speak against absinth from Czech Republic, but it is still not possible to produce absinth in France or Switzerland with thujone content over 10mg/litre - and thats nothing. Also a lot of french absinths are below 60%-70% alcohol content - and i those thujone will simply decompose.
I'm from Russia, I make my own homemade absinth for more than 4 years now. We have a large community of absinthmakers, and, well, it was rather interesting reading your blog. But... ;)

Alan said...

Thanks for your post, stremmi.

You mentioned the historical medicinal use of absinthe. That may be, but Coca-Cola was originally also a medicinal product. Times change and people have discovered that absinthes - and Coca- Cola - taste good too!

"Also burning absinth - takes out alcohol without taking away the thujone." In many countries, tax on alcohol is determined by the strength of the alcohol. It seems strange to pay a lot for a drink, and then burn what, in effect, you have just paid for. But in any case, many of us believe that the thujone content is irrelevant and you have to drink so much alcohol to get a thujone effect, you'd die first.

"It is still not possible to produce absinth in France or Switzerland with thujone content over 10mg/litre - and thats nothing." Not true: France, Switzerland and the Czech Republic all have the same rules which allow up to 35 mg/kg if the drink is labelled as a bitter or "amer."

"I'm from Russia, I make my own homemade absinth for more than 4 years now. We have a large community of absinthmakers."
Many Swiss distillers started the same way. So, good luck and I hope to taste your absinthe one day!

Joel said...

Hi Alan,

i would like to know how much would the green fairy cost in the outlets that you have mentioned in the previous comments..wouldn't wish to be ripped for the La Clandestine, does it gives you the buzz after drinking it as i manage to get one and to my surprise after drinking it, i was still very clear and a 10% beer would have done a better job than the 53% La Clandestine... will the green fairy sold here in malaysia have the same hallucination effect as its renowned for?


Alan said...

Hi Joel,

Malaysia prices are around RM 210 - 260 for La Clandestine (53%); RM250-300 for a bottle of Angelique Verte Suisse (68%).

The hallucination effects? Sorry, but that is just a myth. Enjoy absinthe for the taste, for the shared ritual. for the heritage and history. You'd have to drink so much of any absinthe to get effects that you'd die of alcohol poisoning first.

alexander said...

Hi Alan,
Just chanced upon your blog on absinthe. I've recently just joined a new set up in Singapore called Absinthe Artisan. My boss goal in setting up this bar is to expand and educate the market in Singapore. Its only 5 weeks old, but there has been a fair bit of media attention. Currently we have about 20 labels of absinthe from France, Spain, Switzerland and Australia. Still looking to expand our list. We have a list of absinthe cocktails for people who are still skeptical about absinthe as well. It is great to have chanced on your blog!

Alan said...

Good luck, alexander. I hope to get to your bar soon.