Seeing the Green Faerie? Absente, Pernod & Versinthe
by F. Sot Fitzgerald

Absinthe has such a romantic aura about it: its popularity in French cafes a century ago, its consumption by great artists like Van Gogh, writers like Hemingway...And, of course, the hallucinogenic effects it was said to bring. One wonders if this aura would exist were Absinthe not banned in most of the Western World by 1915. Maybe had Absinthe remained legal longer we'd have a whole trove of photographs of its abusers- slobbering, pale fiends who'd sell their mother to get another glass of the 120 to 180


proof hooch. Or maybe the West as we know it would have collapsed because evryone would have gone mad on it. Who knows.

In 1920, five years after its ban in France, Absinthe made a legal comeback- well, sorta. Pernod, who had been churning out Absinthe since 1805, came out with an Absinthe-like drink called- surprise- Pernod, which is widely available today. The recipe, though, isn't the same. Among other things, the wormwood had been all but removed. Wormwood, as you likely know, contains the psychoactive chemical, thujone. Absinthe orignally had some where around 100 milligrams of Thujone per liter. Pernod has nearly none, as do Absente and Versinthe, which have 3.5 and 1.5 milligrams per liter, respectively.

Today, in the U.K. and a few other nations, true Absinthe is available, though the European Union has reportedly capped the Thujone content at 10 milligrams per liter. No doubt there are ways to obtain more potent absinthes- the website offers versions with up to 100 milligrams per liter.

Here, though, we're looking at what might be called Pseudo-Absinthes. None of these are wimpy boozes- Pernod is 80 proof, Versinthe, 90 proof, and Absente, a hefty 110 proof. The way to drink Absinthe or pseudo-absinthes is simple- put an ounce or two of the liqueur in a glass, rest an absinthe spoon (see above) on the glass, place a sugar cube on it, then pour 5 ounces of cool water slowly over it, letting the sugar dissolve. Give it a stir and you're off.

So how does it taste? Well, in terms of color, all were nearly colorless and clear when poured. All also turned cloudy when water was added. Pernod began clear yellow-optic green and turned milky, bright green; Versinthe was faintly brown and turned Alka-Seltzer color with a touch of brown; and Absente started optic green and ended up cloudy, almost night-glow green, and sporting a slight, frothy head.


Click HERE to Buy Pernod


Click HERE to Buy Absente


Pernod was mild- it tasted of anise and sugar. Simple, very easy to drink, even chuggable, provided you aren't a black licorice hater. The best to start with if you are new to absinthes or pseudo-absinthes. (Rating***1/4) Versinthe was more sweet and complex. It boasts some twenty herbs and has less of the licorice punch than Pernod, but is a touch milder than I would hope. Which means- dump more of it in...Woo-hoo! (Rating***3/4) Absente was the most intense, bitter and warm of the bunch, though on all counts it really was quite mild (this was mixed with water and sugar, mind you) (Rating ***3/4).

Of course- you likely want to know if I saw the Green Faerie. The answer is no, though I confess feeling invigorated, and the grief that my darling Zelduh dumped on me earlier (it's no matter, only a domestic thing) was wiped from my mind. I felt elated and a little like turning on the stereo to something jiggy, or perhaps beautiful, like Horowitz playing Chopin concertos, or...

[Editor's note: Fitzgerald's review continues on for some 16,000 more words and ponders the nature of the divine, plutocracy in America, the rights of the Amish, and the chance of scoring a container of ether and a "humongous bag of French fries" at 4:26 A.M. We didn't think it was germane and so snipped it.]

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To read more about Absente, surf to

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