Friday, 21 October 2011

10 things you didn't know about Absinthe: Number 10

As someone involved in trying to create more interest in high quality absinthes, I am well aware that there has been - and continues to be - a lot of misinformation about absinthe. So the three most important things I can do to rectify that are .... "Education .... education .... and more education."

I am also aware that education isn't always fun, so I try to lighten up my efforts to educate with my own particular sense of humour. English humour? Yes, albeit not directly in the style of Monty Python.

I can also be quite verbose (see some of my other posts for proof of that), so in an attempt to keep it simple, I am going to present over the next 10 days my short list of things you didn't know about absinthe. Some of my better-informed readers will no doubt say "I already knew that," so to them I apologise in advance. A headline saying "10 things you might not have known about absinthe, but maybe some of you do" would not be so punchy!

And I'm going to present them in count-down style from 10 to 1, knowing also that in the future, readers will see them in the blog format (from 1 to 10, in newest post first date order).

So here goes:



There is a published account about the birth of the burning ritual on the La Fée site. This is the key excerpt, recounting the event in 1998:

"Our next move would simultaneously misinform the world's media and popularise what we call the Sugar and Burn, a thoroughly modern way of serving absinth. It happened quite by chance, as we arrived back in Prague ..  at one of my favourite Prague hangouts, Café FX, above Wenceslas Square in the Praha 2 district. After settling into the lounge seats at the back, fate decreed that we would witness our first ever burning absinth, something I had never seen in all my years of socialising in bars, clubs and the homes of friends in Prague."

I won't talk too much about so-called "Bohemian absinth(e)," which tends to be not much more than wormwood flavoured vodka with added food colouring and which seems to be disappearing in most countries at long last.If its makers think such a product is fit mainly for burning, who am I to disagree?

However it is clear that "Bohemian absinthe" is significantly different from anything called absinthe in the 19th century.

Firstly it doesn't have anise, so it doesn't turn cloudy – or louche – when water is added.

Secondly it is a very different colour – electric blue almost, usually as a result of artificial colouring.

And then somehow someone decided that the best way to drink it was to burn it first.

Call me old-fashioned but something seems wrong here! Does anyone use an XO cognac to set fire to the Christmas pudding? Or would one normally use a cheaper brandy? So maybe Bohemain absinthe and the burning ritual are made for each other.

However there is no reason to burn real absinthe. To do so ruins the taste and merely burns off the alcohol that is a major part of the product cost. It's effectively burning bank notes.

And if that wasn't sufficient reason, then I suggest you sit back and watch this video ....


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