From Absent-minded to Absinthe-minded

27 Jun

I’m in an old cellar bar, in Prague.  It’s humid and dark but exploding with pure joyful noise.  An accordionist is pumping out a folk song and curled fists are keeping the beat against the top of long communal tables, slick with spilled beer.  A young man jumps up from his bench seat and yells out incoherently for a solid minute.  The whole crowd breaks into cheers and toasts each other.  I holler along, not knowing why, but who cares?  A waitress effortlessly wedges in between two companions I met at the hostel and sets down a tray filled with bright green shots – what is this?

“Absinthe,” grins a stranger next to me.  He tilts his head back and his lips envelop the shot as if it were a large green marble.

I’m having trouble focussing.  I’m on my third stein now…or is it my fourth?   Isn’t absinthe supposed to come with a sugar cube?   Some fancy spoon?  Isn’t it a hallucinogen?  I shrug.  I bring the shot glass to my lips, tilt my head back and hope for the best….

——————————————————————

Absinthe from Berlin

My good friends C and L just returned from a month abroad in France, Germany and the Netherlands.  On top of the thoughtful souvenirs they brought back for me (French movie silk screened posters!  Dutch artisan candies!), they invited me to share in the experience of a bottle of absinthe brought back from Berlin.  It’s been years since my first and only encounter with absinthe and I will admit, the experience was of questionable legitimacy.  Of course I happily obliged.

They found this particular bottle from “Absinth Depot Berlin”, a tiny shop that showcased over 100 different varieties and an expert owner who could pick the right bottle, guided by your reactions to samples. it was considered a Hausgemacht which is German for ‘home-made’.  C and L described that most bottles they encountered were small-batch made by proud serious hobbyists – too cool.   I am a huge sucker for regional artisan products and was now dying to try it.

The amber liquid (60% alcohol by volume) was in a clear textured bottle with a home-made silk screen print styled label.  C carefully measured one part absinthe to two parts ice-cold water for each drink, as prescribed by the German shopkeeper.  It certainly had the characteristic anise flavour albeit significantly milder than expected.  I apologize in advance but I am stuck on ‘herbal’ as a description.   Imagine Jagermeister but smoother, less sweet and with a licorice chaser– okay, I know that doesn’t help .   It was slightly numbing on the tongue like real black licorice can be.  There was a hint of sweetness followed by a light warm shadow of bitterness.   It was surprisingly pleasant.  It certainly had to be ice-cold – as soon as it warmed up the fire of alcohol was more pronounced – but otherwise a very unique sipping drink.

I will admit, that despite being an ‘experienced’ drinker, I was tipsy after my third sip. I could easily see how I’d get into a fight with Hemingway after too many of these.  There were no magical fairies either, but a lot of magically-disappearing-nacho-chips.

Thanks to C and L, I’ve come around to appreciating absinthe.  No longer in my mind a party shooter, it’s a fine skilled craft which I am looking forward to learning more about.

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3 Responses to “From Absent-minded to Absinthe-minded”

  1. Greg June 27, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    Nice! I miss Praha.

  2. seo firm in delhi July 8, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    Thanks very interesting blog!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Alcohol | jackcollier7 - July 9, 2013

    […] From Absent-minded to Absinthe-minded (yyzgourmand.com) […]

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