I was reading the online version of the NY Times today and I came across a story on the herbal liquor (not a liqueur!) Absinthe. The story talks about the recent legalization of real Absinthe and its rise in popularity among bars and "people in the know" in NYC. It also gives some history on the liquid including its association with the French Impressionist movement, Van Gogh, Balzac, and Oscar Wilde, among others. An interesting sidenote: Hemingway drank the hell out of some Absinthe, and even invented his own Absinthe based cocktail.
Recently Virginia's arcane ABC system decided to legalize authentic Absinthe and my bar decided to start carrying it. Up until then my experience with Absinthe has been interesting and a bit mixed. Twice I vomited from drinking the fake Absinthe at Mars Bar (A great Richmond bar), once I mixed some with many other illicit substances during an ill-fated night in Williamsburg Brooklyn and ended up getting my face bashed in, and another time while consuming a pilfered bottle of the real stuff I somehow organized a semi-foursome (don't ask). Needless to say, that shit is bad (or good) news depending on how you look at it.
People tend to associate the liquid with hallucinating and strange and mystical substances, but people are wrong. I'm here to debunk this myth.
There are two reasons why Absinthe makes for a crazy drunk and "mind-altering experiences". 1.) People associate it with the things that I mentioned above and even before they start drinking it, they tend to prepare their head for something completely different and 2.) Absinthe is 68 percent alcohol or 136 Proof, with some brands going as high as 75 percent and 150 Proof. Jim Beam is 80 Proof, you do the math. Add the requisite sugar that goes with the traditional method of consuming Absinthe and we're talking about some serious hard liquor here. Anyone is gonna act bat shit crazy after consuming a few glasses of Absinthe. It has nothing to do with wormwood or heroin or anything else. I'm not saying that whatever Van Gogh was consuming didn't have all sorts of old-timey drugs in it like Laudanum and Morphine and Ether and whatever else those people drank, I'm just saying that today's Americanized distilled Absinthe is not the same thing.
Now if you'll excuse me, it's Sunday and the lord is demanding that I go out and do harmful things to my body (which may or may not involve sipping on a cup of Absinthe).
Next up in the series: Debunking Myths: Anal Sex (seriously, I'm already putting the final touches on it)