5th of Everclear (Vodka will do if it is over 70% alcohol)

1/4 ounce of dried, crumbled wormwood (available at most occult-ish places)

Add both these together and shake once daily for 3 days. Store in a cool and DARK place.

On the 3rd day strain the wormwood from the alcohol. Add the following things (available at most markets in the spice section):

Let all this sit in the strained alcohol for 1 week, shake everday. Store in dark place because the sun will evaporate the alcohol.

After the week is over make 1 1/2 cups sugar syrup using sugar and water. (a semi-thick mix)

Add to alcohol and you have Absinthe

Enjoy!

References to absinthe are found in the Bible, in Egyptian papyri and in early Syrian texts. Originally, it was a simple composition of wine with wormwood leaves soaked in it. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) is a shrub native to Europe and Asia (but not North America). The name "absinthe" is derived from the Greek word "apsinthion", meaning "undrinkable", probably a reference to the bitter flavour of the original beverage.

The drink is distinguished by its blue-green clarity from its chlorophyll content. Traditionally, it was served with water and a cube of sugar; the sugar cube was placed on an "absinthe spoon", and the liquor was drizzled over the sugar into the glass of water. The sugar helped take the bitter edge from the absinthe, and when poured into the water the liquor turned milky white, like the Greek ouzo, which has a similar anise flavour.

The active ingredient of wormwood is thujone, a neurotoxin, which has been proven identical to tanecetone in the herb tansy and salvanol in sage. Thujone has also been shown to have a very similiar molecular structure to THC.

During the European Middle Ages, absinthe was primarily valued as a cure for flatulence and to exterminate tapeworms in the abdomen while leaving the human host uninjured .

French soldiers fighting in Algeria in the 1840s drank absinthe as a preventative against malaria and other diseases. This sparked the first big surge in absinthe's popularity in France. In 1990 wormwood extracts were found to be as effective in supressing malaria as chloroquine.

Absinthe enjoyed a vogue during the Symbolist and Art Nouveau periods at the end of the 19th century. The head-aches, vomiting involuntary evacuation of the bowels, foaming at the mouth and other side effects of consuming more than merely medicinal dosages were interpreted according to the dogma of the suffering artist, the social revolutionary delving deep into the crevices of of his (usually his) grand epic tale of himself. Absinthe addiction became associated with several sensational criminal trials.

In 1906 Switzerland voted to ban absinthe. In 1907, to ban any imitators. In 1912 it was banned in the United States of America. In 1915 by France. It is still legal in Spain.

Interestingly, I've heard it is a relative of vermouth, which is actually German for wormwood.

Another country where absinthe is illegal is the good ol' USA. I'm not sure if it's illegal to make it in the US, but we have this thing in the US called freedom of speech so I think I can post this anyway. For good measure, though, don't try this at home. This is only for reference - Absinthe is illegal for a reason.

The email I received with the recipe credits it to <http://www.sepulchritude.com/chapelperilous/absinthe/absinthe.html> There are three other recipes at that site, but I'll only list this one as it's the most straightforward.
Absinthe Jumbo

1 ounce of wormwood
1 ounce wormwood powder
1/4 ounce crushed anise seed.
1 bottle of store bought oil of anise seed.
1/2 ounce of fennel
2 pinches of dill (for precursor oils)
2 Pinches of Parsley (for essential oils)
One 750ml bottle of Clear Spring 190 (dilute before drinking!!)

1.Put in medium Large French Press (for coffee usually).
2.Let sit for a day. Then press repeatedly. After each press, shake or stir it up so its all free floating and not pressed down.
3.Do this daily for 2 weeks.. It should be a dark green oil after the 2nd day.
4.After 2 weeks, I pressed it and poured a half ounce into a glass with 2 tsp of sugar. Then pour water equal to amount poured or until desired.
Another Recipe

1 ounce wormwood
1 tablespoon angelica root
1 teaspoon hyssop
1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon cardomon pods
1 liter vodka

Fill glass container with vodka and wormwood. Leave in a dark place for ten days. Strain out wormwood, add all other herbs. Wait four more days. Strain and serve. Everclear can also be used for an extra strong variety.

I take absolutely no responsibility for what anyone does with this!

Fortunately in the good old United Kingdom, absinthe is still legal. The local off licence is apparantly one of the largest stockist in the United Kingdom, so I took a wander down with the idea of purchasing some extremely intoxicating liquid.

Well, they had six brands, not bad for a small liquor store. I thought in for a penny, in for a pound so I bought the most expensive (and strongest) bottle called Hapsburg Super De-luxe edition from Bulgaria. This was the first drink I had bought with warning labels, it had to be kept below 19 degrees C (watch out on a summer day ;) and kept away from flames. I just bought a little 15cl bottle though, I didn't want to kill myself. It even came with a little leaflet describing the history of absinthe and how to drink it.

At 85% (ie 170 proof), this wasn't the light stuff. But being a student in England, I was well hardened to alcohol and thought neat is best. Well, two shots later I decided to try the cocktail suggestions, I didn't really want to throw up all over my flatmates. Mixing it with dissolved sugar is quite tricky (see above), especially after two shots of absinthe, but I eventually got it going and it definately tasted better (well, bearable) this way.

I must admit I had a great night out that night, after finishing the bottle (that's only six shots), better than usual. But there were many drinks consumed after the absinthe, which may account for this phenomenon. Whether it was the absinthe or not, I'm not prepared to speculate. However, I will be going back to the Green Fairy for some more inebriation and great times. Happy drinking, fellow noders.

Preparing your Absinthe so it doesn't kill your tastebuds

Required items

  • One shot of Absinthe
  • One shot of water
  • Metal spoon
  • Sugar
  • Flame source, lighter prefered
Technique (the exact way I prepare it)
  1. Have your water and Absinthe side-by-side on the bar.
  2. In your right hand, take a spoonful of sugar, and dip it into the Absinthe, so the sugar stays on the spoon, but the Absinthe is soaked up into the sugar.
  3. Lighter in left hand, light the sugar. BE CAREFUL It produces a hot and fairly high flame.
  4. Just before the flame goes out, and the sugar is bubbling away, plunge the spoon into the Absinthe, and STRAIGHT AWAY pour the shot of water on top. If you don't pour the water in quickly, the flame will ignite the vapours and take the hairs off the back of your hand.
  5. Stir well, and the sugar should fully disolve into the mixture.
  6. Sip and enjoy

The sugar and water make it much sweeter, and drops the alcohol by volume, but Absinthe is still a very powerful drink. Drink it carefully. I've been drinking it for a few years, and I'm still repectful of its intoxicating abilities.

What is absinthe?

Absinthe is an aromatic spirit. It derives its name from its distinguishing ingredient, Artemisia absinthium, commonly known as grand or common wormwood. While the name of the plant does indeed most likely come from the Greek apsinthion, well-made absinthe is neither bitter nor undrinkable.

Making absinthe

Absinthe is made by steeping aromatic herbs and spices in alcohol and distilling the infusion. Additional herbs and spices may be steeped in the resulting distillate for additional flavour and aroma. This final step extracts the chlorophyll from the herbs turning the spirit green. An absinthe so coloured is referred to as a verte. An absinthe which does not undergo the final steeping step remains clear and uncoloured, and is referred to as a blanche.

The herbs most commonly used in the initial infusion are dried and stripped flowering tops of grand wormwood, dried fennel seeds and dried green anise seeds. Coriander seeds and angelica seeds are also commonly used to flavour absinthe. Less common flavourings include veronica, Roman chamomile, genepi, elecampane and mint. Inferior absinthes frequently replace the fennel and green anise seeds with cheaper and stronger flavourings like liquorice root and star anise.

These botanical ingredients are steeped in 85% alcohol for 12 hours. The alcohol was typically derived from grapes, but modern manufacturers tend to use cheaper grain-based spirits. Opinions differ as to whether there is any noticeable effect, detrimental or otherwise, from using grain spirits instead of grape spirits. Water is added to the infusion, along with the 'phlegms', 'tails' or 'low wines' from a previous distillation, and the mixture is distilled.

Typical flavouring herbs for the final flavouring step are the dried and stripped flowering tops of Artemisia pontica (Roman or petite wormwood), melissa (also known as lemon balm) and hyssop flowers. Recipes for blanche absinthes usually add the herbs that would normally be used in the final flavouring step to the initial infusion instead.

Finally, the spirit is diluted to final strength, typically around 74% abv for fine absinthe. Absinthe was usually aged in enormous oak vats, but most modern manufacturers don’t age the spirit at all before bottling.

Both historical and modern absinthes are made simply by blending essential oils of various plants (typically extracted via steam distillation) with alcohol. These 'oil mixes' (and some distilled absinthes) are usually artificially coloured with yellow and blue food dyes. The popular 'La Fee' is one such artificially-coloured oil mix. Many absinthes are also sweetened with added sugar. Most absinthe aficionados frown on such additives, and on oil mixes in general.

Beverages made by steeping herbs and spices in grain alcohol should not be considered as true absinthes. Absinthe is a distilled spirit, not a simple infusion.

Serving absinthe

Absinthe is served by pouring an ounce into the bottom of a glass goblet. A specially-designed slotted spoon is placed on the rim of the glass over the absinthe. A sugar cube is placed on the spoon. Ice-cold water from a carafe or special absinthe fountain is dripped very, very slowly over the sugar cube. The sugar cube gradually dissolves, the sweet water running through the slots in the spoon and dropping into the absinthe.

As the absinthe is diluted the essential oils dissolved in the spirit fall out of solution making it cloudy. This effect is called the louche (pronounced 'loosh'). Depending on the original strength of the absinthe and the drinker's personal tastes, 3 to 5 parts water are added to the absinthe. The end result is a milky, highly aromatic drink with an alcohol content about the same as wine.

Don't set the sugar on fire. It's a stupid movie gimmick.

Taste of absinthe

Fine absinthe is floral and herbal, and may have citrus or mint notes. It is not bitter, and should not be overwhelmed by anise flavours. Wander down to your local nursery and rub petite wormwood, melissa and hyssop on your fingers. Bad absinthe tastes like ouzo, mouthwash or worse.

Effects of absinthe

Absinthe drinkers frequently claim that they experience other effects (or 'secondaries', as they are often called) in addition to the sensations usually associated with inebriation. Effects described typically range from a feeling of clarity that is unlike the usual fog of grog to hallucinations or visions.

Thujone, a chemical component of many species of Artemisia (and a variety of other plants including sage and cedar), is often cited as the active ingredient of absinthe. Less reputable manufacturers and retailers play upon this common assumption and list absurdly high thujone levels for their products – presumably, the more thujone an absinthe contains, the better the 'high'.

In fact, the active ingredient of absinthe is simply alcohol. Gas chromatography and mass spectrography show that there is little to no thujone in absinthe. A typical person would need to consume several thousand bottles of absinthe to ingest a lethal dose of thujone, by which time they would have long been in an alcoholic coma or already dead from alcohol poisoning.

Similarly high levels of consumption are required to ingest the amount of thujone required to observe physiological or neurological effects. The idea that thujone might have similar effects to THC because the molecules look the same or that it might bind to GABA receptors in the brain have been comprehensively debunked by modern science.

Nonetheless, the European Union has placed a ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages with more than 10mg/kg of thujone. Fortunately, recent analysis showed that all of the absinthes tested fell well below this limit, with many absinthes (including many of those whose manufacturers claim very high levels of thujone) containing next to no thujone.

These low thujone levels are not a recent development. Many drinkers (or their anti-absinthe opponents) claim that vintage or pre-ban absinthes contained very high levels of thujone, and that such absinthes really did cause wonderful (or disastrous) neurological and physiological effects. However, the recipes used to make these vintage absinthes are readily available from texts published at the time, and are used by modern absinthe manufacturers. It would seem strange that the same recipes would produce thujone-rich absinthes a century ago, but not now. In addition, similar analyses to those performed on modern absinthes on samples of vintage absinthes show that they too contained little or no thujone. For example, vintage Pernod Fils was found to contain just 6mg/kg of thujone.

In your humble author's opinion, more extreme secondary effects are largely in the drinker's mind, and are a similar phenomenon to those drinkers who claim that tequila makes them crazy, or that rum makes them aggressive, or that ouzo makes them horny. It is possible that other yet-to-be substances in absinthe (such as anethole, which is present in amounts in the hundreds of milligrams per kilogram in many absinthes) have some neurological or physiological effects on the drinker. It is more likely, however, that absinthe drinkers expect such effects to occur, and so they do. A blind experiment to test the effects of absinthe and ordinary pastis would be an interesting exercise.

In short, absinthe is not a drug. It will not get you high. Thujone content is not an indicator of the quality of an absinthe, although if a particular manufacturer keeps raving about it, it might be a good sign to leave their products well alone.

Buying absinthe

Recent years have seen a boom in absinthe production in Europe. Unfortunately, many of these absinthes are simply poorly crafted oil mixes, most of which have never been anywhere near an Artemisia flower.

However, there is an increasing number of high-quality artisan-produced absinthes on the market. The most well-known are the Un Emile range of absinthes produced by the distillery of Les Fils d'Emile Pernot in Pontarlier, France. A relative newcomer to the scene is the highly-acclaimed Verte de Fougerolles 72 from the distillery of Paul Devoille in Haut Saone, France. All of these absinthes are available from the UK distributor Liqueurs de France. They're not cheap, but it's better than spending a slightly smaller fortune on something that's little more than artificially-coloured ouzo.

Avoid absinthes made in eastern Europe like the plague. If all you can afford is a bottle of Hills, save your money and drink Windex instead. Don't forget to set the sugar on fire.

Making your own absinthe

You cannot make absinthe by soaking a bunch of herbs and spices in Everclear. You cannot make absinthe by adding essential oil of wormwood to a bottle of Pernod pastis. You cannot make absinthe by mixing anything with a bag or bottle of stuff you bought on eBay. Don’t do it. I said don’t. Dee, oh, en, apostrophe, tee. Don’t.

If you have a decent still, and if you have access to quality botanical ingredients, and if it’s not illegal in your country, and if you know what you’re doing you can make the best absinthe you’ll ever drink at home. Yes, that’s a lot of 'if's.

There’s a thriving community of absinthe bootleggers and their appreciative fans out there in Internet land. Homemade absinthe is often referred to as ‘HG’, which is an abbreviation for 'hausgemacht', the German for 'house-made' or 'homemade'. People distilling such absinthe are sometimes called 'HGers'.

If you’re looking for recipes and instructions, try googling for translations of the texts most commonly referred to by HGers: La Fabrication des Liqueurs by J. de Brevans, Nouveau Traité de la Fabrication des Liqueurs d’Apres les Procedes les Plus Récents by J. Fritsch, Traité des liqueurs et de la distillation des alcools ou le liquoriste et le distillateur moderns by P. Duplais and Traite Pratique de Fabrication des Liqueurs by A. Bedel.

Obiwanwasabis writeup is a very good one, and covers most of the information about absinthe one would want to have in this thread. There's one thing I want to add, though.

Absinthe and absinth are actually two distinct drinks. The former is the famed drink made from a mixture of herbs including wormwood and anis, the latter, often also called Bohemian Absinth, is a different concoction probably invented in Czech Republic. This drink shares the wormwood, but little else, and some variations of it is supposedly made through adding spices to high-proof vodka.

The now-famed absinth-drinking ritual involving setting a cube of sugar on fire showed up together with the bohemian absinth. Absinthe, like many other anise-based alcohols, becomes "cloudy" when mixed with water (this is an effect of some of the oils found in absinthe, which I assume come from the anise due to the similar effect in for example ouzo). The bohemian absinth lacks this effect (and indeed lacks anise), and as such the other technique was invented as a marketing trick, which found its way into a number of movies.

Like absinthe, absinth does not have a high enough thujone level to have an effect. I can personally vouch for this, having imbibed it several times without feeling anything apart from the normal effects of alcohol.

Ab"sinth`, Ab"sinthe` (&?;), n. [F. absinthe. See Absinthium.]

1.

The plant absinthium or common wormwood.

2.

A strong spirituous liqueur made from wormwood and brandy or alcohol.

 

© Webster 1913

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