On Absinthe…

I received my bottle of Lucid via UPS on Monday afternoon… After waiting for Jean to get home, we worked our way into the kitchen and began the “ritual” of la louche’.

Not having ANY of the absinthe specific tools, we had to improvise as best we could. We found two wine glasses which would work. I then “macgyvered” a slotted spoon by using the top of a salt-shaker (washed of course!) and banding it between two chop-sticks so it would sit on the rim of the glasses without having to use two hands to hold and pour.

I poured about a jigger’s worth of absinthe into the glass, and then retrieved the iced water from the counter. Placing a sugar cube in the salt-shaker top, I proceeded to pour the water -very slowly- over the cube to dissolve it with as little water as possible.

The green, yet crystal clear absinthe liquor began its change into the green fairy. With the slightest addition of ice cold water and sugar, the liquor clouded up perfectly into a mint-green glass of happiness.

Ah, now it was time for the first taste….

The initial hit is of anise, which mellows into a nice mild sweetness of sage, though the anise sticks around for the whole story to unfold. Unfortunately, the first glass was a bit too watery, as I seemingly overdid the ice water and under did the liquor. So, after consuming the first glass with only very mild effects, we ate dinner and came back a few hours later to pour out a second try.

This time, my ratio was dead on. I only eyeballed the liquor when pouring rather than accurately measuring, so I am unclear as to how much I actually used. We’ll say it was a good solid 2 shots. I la louche’d with less water than previously used, stopping when the look of the drink appeared “right”. (Knowing what “watery” looked like made this second attempt much easier.)

At first sip I realized that THIS is what the first drink should have tasted like. Much more potent, the only way I can find to accurately describe the flavour to someone who hasn’t tried it is:
Consider taking a handful of licorice Altoids, add some small pinches of sage, and add water to taste. The flavours which come out are a slightly minty, heavily anised herbiness cut so slightly by the sweetness of the sugar cube and, of course, the added water.

Halfway into the second glass, I found that the effects of the drink were a bit… different. The buzz was more of the stimulant variety than the depressant commonly associated with alcohol. Both Jean and I found more of a crispness and clarity to the buzz, in direct contrast to the fuzziness typically encountered with whiskies or other liquors. No hallucinations were encountered, though in our defense 2 glasses over the course of 4 hours isn’t exactly conducive to experience the heavy effects of ANY drink. I can, however, see how imbibing a bit more may push some of the other effects to the fore-front of the experience.

It should also be noted here that Lucid is indeed produced using the higher quality of wormwood available (Grande if memory serves) and as such the drink does contain low levels of thujone, the presumably “active” ingredient which is also found in sage and rosemary.

Moreover, I can absolutely see how this particular drink could and SHOULD be experienced in a social atmosphere. The ritual aspect alone demands an audience. One can almost envision themselves sitting in a dark café’ or pub in the alley-ways of France, sipping the green fairy, and just watching the world go by. Though, don’t be mistaken; even merely people watching is not a solo endeavor, but rather an experience to share with all your friends!

So, take this for what it is worth from a 3DC member… if you ever have the opportunity to imbibe in the Green Fairy… Jump at the chance. You will not regret it.

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Pimpin the WOW 2008 trip early…

Greetings all,

Well I know it’s many months away, but Jason, Adrian, and I would like to extend an early invitation to you all. We would like to have some of your company for our now yearly San Francisco trip to Whiskies of the World Expo (http://www.celticmalts.com/events.asp?page=2) this upcoming year. It will be held March 28th -29th with the grand tasting again being held Saturday on the San Francisco Belle docked at pier 3. There will be seminars and “Whisky University” on Friday. We’ll be painting the town all shades of Plaid when ever we get the chance to do so, so make sure you sleep well before you come. We will, I’m sure, also make our yearly pilgrimage down to the wharf to visit Lark In the Morning (http://larkinthemorning.com/) for all our period music needs and to get our annual early morning Irish Coffee at The Mermaid pub near by. You’ll likely also get the chance to make fun of Seamus as that seems to happen a lot in SF, just ask any cabby or bar tender in the town.

Now it is too early to book rooms (wait till November) but so you can plan well in advance, our hotel of choice once again is going to be the Hotel Des Arts (http://www.sfhoteldesarts.com/index.php). This is an awesome little boutique hotel right at the intersection of China Town (weird shopping), the Mission District (Shopping) and the financial district (ATMs). Most of the rooms have been done up by local pop artists (Not Lichtenstein though) and each is very different. The rooms are a steal for the area as well with suites currently only going for around $160, Queen rooms for around $90 and for the more economically minded they even have European style wee rooms with out en-suite facilities that go for around $50 at night if memory serves. The shared bathrooms were actually pretty nice (I checked them out last year just out of curiosity.) The prices for next year have not been set yet so there will likely be some increase but you should be able to get the idea from current pricing. The three of us, depending on whether or not Jean and or Maggs come along, were anticipating sharing a suite this time around. The Hotel itself is great, but the most important part is this it is literally across the alley from the Irish Bank, our favorite and official pub while we are in SF. They love us there and we them (It’s kind of scary to think that I’m considered a regular in a pub hundreds of miles from my home.) There is a trade off for the real cheap prices and that is that the rooms tend to be a bit wee, but that is well offset by the Irish Bank so no worries there. The hotel is also only 1.1 miles from Pier 3 so that’ll be well withing stumbling distance if need be, and times being what they are.

Well that’s about it for now. I’ll be prompting you all again in November when the room bookings are available and the like but if you can, please plan ahead. This is bound to be a great trip and not one to miss if you at all like Whiskies.


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