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Getting Even Tighter on Absinthe

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Feb 11, 2008 4:30PM

2008_02_absinthe.jpgWith four different brands authorized for sale in the States, absinthe is poised to be the big spirit of the year. We've written about Lucid absinthe before, and we were able to get our hands on a bottle of Kübler, a Swiss absinthe now being sold locally.

In addition to being a neutral nation during both world wars and making one hell of a pocket tool, Switzerland also originated absinthe. We figured that, for interested readers, we'd show you how absinthe looks when properly prepared. The process by which absinthe transforms from its translucent green to dreamy opalescent white is known as "louching" (loosh-ing). Louching brings out the menthol aromas attributed to Grande Wormwood, as well as diluting the alcohol concentration; Kü weighs in at 106 Proof. Here's how to louche.

Step 1: Pour 1-½ ounces of absinthe into a glass.

Step 2: Place a sugar cube into a slotted spoon.

Step 3: Slowly pour ice water over the sugar cube, allowing it to dissolve into the absinthe. Continue this process until cube has dissolved (you should have used 3-4 ounces of water for the process).

Step 4: Stir the undissolved sugar with the spoon.

Step 5: Sip. Get light-headed. Repeat.

In an informal direct taste test, we preferred Lucid to Kübler. But we don't think anyone else will really care about the taste. The curiosity factor is the spirit itself. Lucid distiller T. A. "Ted" Breaux told us that much of the myth behind absinthe is hogwash. Breaux is a trained chemist, and his tests on thujone levels in 100-year-old absinthes determined that levels then and now are similar. Both Breaux and Nacional 27 General Manager Adam Seger told us that many absinthes back in the day contained copper leachings, mild poisons and other congeners which probably contributed more to Van Gogh lopping off his ear and Hemingway throwing knives around the house than thujone.