Just Another Blog
Thursday, April 11, 2002

Many thanks to my old roommate for pointing us to a site where absinthe may be purchased online. "But wasn't absinthe banned because it was just so dangerous," you ask. Consider the following on thujone, the active chemical in absinthe:
Absinthe drinkers were reported to have experienced a double action intoxication [5]. This intoxication combined the separate effects of alcohol and thujone. The alcohol produced a sedative effect in absinthe drinkers while the thujone is reported to have caused hallucinations (both visual and auditory) as well as excitation. The only proven effect of thujone, however, is its toxicity to the brain. The toxicity of thujone in the brain is believed to result from its structural similarity to tetrahydrocannibinol, or THC (3) , the active compound in marijuana. Cannabis has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes and has great therapeutic potential[8]. Thujone and THC have similar shapes, and it is believed that they interact with the same biological receptor to produce their similar psychological effects [9]. The similarities between the molecules include gem dimethyl groups and a similar carbon framework. It is also believed that the hydroxyl group of THC and the carbonyl of thujone may interact at the same site.
Ok, so you wanna try some absinthe then, but don't know how to serve it. Luckily the internet seems chock full o' good absinthe information. This link seems to cover everything from the following serving suggestion to history to chemical compounds to what countries are churning out the best absinthe (and I love the look of the site).
The traditional method of 'presentation' (drinking) involves charging a perforated 'absinthe spoon' with a sugar cube and placing it over an 'absinthe glass' which greatly resembes a modern parfait ice cream glass. The glass has a line around it demarking the proper amount of absinthe it should contain so that when full, the glass will hold the proper 5 parts of water fo 1 part absinthe -- almost no one ever drinks this liqueur neat, save for a few show-offs. The water is trickled from a carafe or 'absinthe fountain' over the sugar cube which slowly dissolves. As the sugary water dilutes the alcohol, the herbal oils in the high proof alcohol solution come out of solution, being almost insoluble in water. This liberates the hugely floral bouquet and produces a milky off-white drink similar to Greek ouzo or Mideastern arak or European anisette -- all anise based drinks like absinthe. The clouding effect is termed the louche, and is of great aesthetic appeal to absintheurs. Modern variations involving setting the absinthe alight are mere cheap melodrama.
I am a big fan of non-traditional liqueurs (no offense Stephen). Chartreuse (I prefer green to yellow), grappa (yeah, it's not a liqueur, but it's strange stuff), Fernet-Branca (aka brown death), Pernod, etc. I can't wait to try absinthe!