Saturday, 28 April 2007

Breaking News: "Genuine" absinthe coming to the USA?

The New York Times of 29th April carries a story about a new, apparently genuine absinthe soon to be available in the USA. The article is short on detail, making it difficult to comment too much at this stage.

Ted Breaux of Jade is behind this new product, Lucid Absinthe, and excerpts from the NYT follows:-

"Mr. Gurfein (of the US distribution company) asked Mr. Breaux whether he could produce an absinthe that would pass regulatory muster with American authorities — meaning that it would not contain thujone. Mr. Breaux said that would be fairly easy ...

Still, Mr. Breaux knew that removing thujone entirely might harm the taste. “I had to get a handle on the whole thujone issue without compromising the character and the flavor of the drink,” he said. To accomplish this, Mr. Breaux blended the grand wormwood with green anise and sweet fennel from Europe, instead of using more-affordable imports from East Asia. Using herbs from Europe, absinthe’s native continent, he said, gives the drink an earthier essence.

Mr. Breaux also had to keep the American palate in mind while developing Lucid. “In the U.S., anise is a sort of a strange flavor,” he said. “We don’t get a lot of exposure to it.” So Mr. Breaux made sure that Lucid had a slightly cleaner, crisper taste than its European peers."

The Lucid FAQ states: "Lucid contains a full measure of Grande Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)," while US Customs and Border Protection state: "The importation of Absinthe and any other liquors or liqueurs that contain Artemisia absinthium is prohibited." It will be interesting to see an explanation for this apparent contradiction! From the forum discussions, it seems to be that these are Customs "guidelines," based on their interpretation of FDA regulations. Hiram comments on this point on the Wormwood Society:-

"Customs doesn't make the laws, it only enforces those set by other agencies. Those customs guidelines were written with the (as it turns out, mistaken) assumption that anything with Aa in it would violate the FDA's no-thujone rule, as would anything with the word "Absinthe" on the label. The FDA specifically permits Artemisia species as long as there's no thujone detected by the method they prescribe; there is no statute specifically prohibiting Aa that I have found." (Aa = Artemisia absinthium).


Other companies have developed "absinthes without thujone" in the past, notably the brand Absente (available in USA without thujone and in other markets with thujone). Its thujone-free status comes from its use of a different wormwood source: Southern Wormwood. The absinthe community has been dismissive about Absente but will probably be more interested in Lucid.

Personally I am supportive of anything that helps get the right kind of absinthe into the USA and this seems at the very least a good step in the right direction.

Read what other real absinthe lovers have to say about this on Fée Verte
and the Wormwood Society.

Click here for the full story in the New York Times; click for the Lucid website.

A suivre!

Absinthe: some other perspectives?

The article below comes from the alternative Wikipedia: Uncyclopedia. The content-free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. While much of it is written for laughs, there are some sentences that are alarmingly true ...


From Uncyclopedia, the content-free encyclopedia.

“Not bad, but this isn't the sort of fairy I fancy.” ~ Oscar Wilde on Absinthe

“Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.” ~ Shakespeare on Absinthe

A green liquid that is a commonly used to circumvent most methods of birth control.


* 1 Distillation
* 2 Using Absinthe
* 3 Side Effects
* 4 Other Absinthe Facts
* 5 See also
* 6 Famous Users


Absinthe is distilled from bits of wood, worms, green crayons, 11 secret herbs and spices according to a secret lesbian recipe. One of thes secret 'herbs and spices' is beleived to be green kryptonite as the consumption of absinthe by kryptonians causes them to wear their underpants on the outside, become attracted to large phallic objects such as aeroplanes and supertankers, often rescuing them without warning and taking them back to their Fortress of "Solitude", and then having no recollection of the past 14 hours or why they have large quantities crude oil and aviation fuel lodged in their spandex.

Using Absinthe

Absinthe has been used in Bohemian rituals for centuries to convince others that they are more hedonistic and Bohemian than anyone else. It is considered passé, and positively dangerous, to simply pour absinthe directly from the bottle into a glass. In order to experience the full effects it is recommended that absinthe is poured through a sugar cube before consumption. Ideally this sugar cube should be 15 inches across. Burnt toast, an old sock, or any Edwardian writer (such as Lord Byron or Oscar Wilde) can be substituted for the sugar cube.

Used correctly absinthe should only cause drunkenness, debauchery, mild memory loss, and a slight rash around the genital and anal regions.

WARNING:Under no circumstances should absinthe be exposed to naked flames, as the resulting explosion is unlikely to cause superpowers.

Side Effects

An astonising array of side effects have been attributed to the consumption of absinthe, most of which are true, but you'll never remember them. Most commonly the absinthe causes fantasies about Green Fairies, passing out, and forgetting about having sex with your sister's goat. Poetry,sodomy,incest, and big shirts with frilly collars are also common side effects of absinthe, especially when you've been drinking with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Overdosing on Absinthe is reportely similar in effect to a roundhouse kick to the head.

Other Absinthe Facts

* Absinthe was created in the novel 1942 by Al Gore, and is endorsed by the Bush Administration.
* laboratory tests in 1832 show that Absinthe can cause vanity in mice.
* Muad'Dib reported to be able to control a herd of sandworms with just one glass of Absinthe.

See also

* Listerine
* Mouthwash

Famous Users

* Nicole Kidman
* Ewan McGregor
* Richard Feynman
* Jewbacca
* Tolouse-Lautrec
* Black Jesus
* The other Bohemians of Moulin Rouge!!
* Björk
* And every cool goth out there (you're just a poser if you don't drink it)
* Khaos Khan usualy at The Tache


I particularly liked the remarks about kryptonite, Bohemian rituals, fantasies about green fairies, and laboratory tests on mice: somebody is having a good dig at the absinthe community in general with remarks that come uncomfortably close to the truth.

And when the authors suggest that you should also see articles on listerine and mouthwash, I don't think that they are referring to real absinthe.

Back in the real world, the absinthe article on Wikipedia remains the number one search result for absinthe and is thus the first source of absinthe information for many. Good that it is so accurate, thanks largely to Ari (happy birthday, by the way!).

Less well known, but also good sources of information are the Wikipedia articles on Absinthiana and Absinthe in popular culture. And don't forget the Thujone article.

These articles, and the even more definitive resource,, debunk the myths about absinthe, thujone and hallucination that are parodied in the Uncyclopedia spoof. So why are there are all these myths and why are they repeated even today?

An answer posted on a MySpace group by a person from Lisbon (where absinthe, helped by low local alcohol duties, is very cheap) may help answer that question:

"I must say you americans do pay a whole lot of cash for absinthe, I don't know if I would do the same under equal circumstances... Makes me think there are a whole lot of people, american and european, making a huge profit over the fact that absinthe remains illegal in the US, which always leads me to imagine how those people either pray every day for absinthe to remain illegal or spread rumours about absinthe's fake hallucinogenic effects so that it keeps being illegal forever...
Truth about absinthe is the enemy for so many unscrupulous dirty capitalists, no wonder so many americans believe in the hallucinogenic mambo-jambo..."

To which I replied:

"I don't see that many people in the French/Swiss absinthe business driving round in fancy cars! The fact is that if:

1. you don't have official access to the biggest drinks market in the world,
2. total global absinthe sales, all brands combined, is much less than individual scotches such as Dewars, or Ballantines,
3. you have very high raw material costs and
4. you choose to distill, pack, and ship by hand

you are going to end up with a business that is not nearly as cost-effective as that of Smirnoff, Bacardi etc.

La Clandestine would love to have official access to the US market; I am sure Jade would too. But there are people who would not like that: the vendors with no brand of their own, the affiliates who get a % of every bottle sold.

In all this, I don't comment on those who "spread rumours about absinthe's fake hallucinogenic effects." That's another story."


Another story, indeed.