Category Archives: alcohol

Rum Fest

A bottle of rum worth over $53,000! The distiller is Wray and Nephew of Jamaica and the unopened bottle, one of only four that exist, dates back to the 1940s. According to the owner of Europe’s first rum festival – Rum Fest – the supplies of Wray & Nephew ran out following the invention of the Mai Tai cocktail. The distillery then changed the production method and so this is a rare opportunity, for someone with more money than sense, to enjoy a “real Mai Tai”

According to Wikipedia – not necessarily a reliable source as we know – the Mai Tai was invented by Don the Beachcomber and here is his recipe:

The Original Trader Vic Formula – 1944

* 2 oz of 17-year old J. Wray & Nephew Rum over shaved ice
* Add juice from one fresh lime
* 1/2 oz Holland DeKuyper Orange Curacao
* 1/4 oz Trader Vic’s Rock Candy Syrup
* 1/2 oz French Garnier Orgeat Syrup
* Shake vigorously.
* Add a sprig of fresh mint


The Rum Fest website is at

Legal News

William Hogarth


  • Philip Philips , of St. Gregory’s, was indicted for stealing a Silver Spoon, and 12 Shillings in Money, from the Person of Elizabeth Booth , on the 28th of Feb. last.

The Prosecutor depos’d, That the Prisoner and another Person came to her House on the Day aforesaid, and drank a considerable Quantity of Gin and Wormwood, which raising the Prisoner to a more than ordinary Elevation, he offered Rudeness to her, and perswading her over the Way to his own House, would there have been more familiar than her Modesty would admit of; after this he came home to her House. again, and continued his Rudeness, insomuch that the Prosecutor lost her Pocket and the Money mentioned in the Indictment: But it appearing to the Court that his Design was only on her Charity, and not on her Property, the Jury acquitted him

Old Bailey 5th July, 1727

  • George Deportal , was indicted for stealing on the 17th of Oct. 1 cask fill’d with spirituous liquors called wormwood cordial, value 10 s. 1 cask of plague water, val. 10 s. 1 of brandy, val. 8 s. 1 of rum, val. 8 s. the goods of Noah Bernard . Acquitted

Old Bailey 9th December, 1747.

In the archive there is also the very sad tale of one Catherine Townsend who died August 26th 1718. The court heard how previously she had “teach’d her self a Pint of All-fours (i.e. Carraways, Wormwood, Angelico and Anniseed Water) which she drank, and afterwards let down he Stairs”

Elixir Salutis

Had too much absinthe at Boveresse? Feel a little hung over in Combier? We have the answer:

Daffy’s “elixir salutis”

Take of senna leaves, cleared of their stalks, four ounces; of guaiacum shavings, of dry’d elecampane root, of the seeds of anise, caraway, coriander, and of liquorice root, of each two ounces; of raisins stoned, eight ounces; of French brandy, three quarts; keep them together cold for four days, and then strain out the tincture for use.

It is a proper purge for drunkards, and is a great formula to old women habituated to drams.

Pharmacopoeia Universalis, Robert James 1747


Absinth at 1936 Olympics!


Absinth at the 1936 Olympics? Unless the Czechs or the Spanish brought some along, the only absinth would have been this fine fellow. Absinth was born in 1926 and won a gold medal at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, he was ridden by Major Friedrich Gerhard. Here’s Friedrich with two pals celebrating after the award.


A couple of years later their comrades arrived uninvited in Prague, and the popularity of absinth grew by virtue of a Nazi alcohol tax, which made absinth an attractively priced spirit. The Fischer distillery in Vienna, the former capital of the Austro Hungarian Empire, has a price list in it’s archives, which must date from the post 1938 Anschluss, listing absynth at 4.67 Reich Marks per litre. If anyone can work out what that is in today’s money, I’d like to know.

Jad Adams and T.A. Breaux on absinthe effects

Hideous Absinthe

HIDEOUS ABSINTHE by Jad Adams is published in the US by the University of Winsin Press at $24.95.

Respected absinthe writer Jad Adams has a different point of view to absinthe manufacturer T.A Breaux:

JAD ADAMS, AUTHOR, “HIDEOUS ABSINTHE”:  Well, the main dangerous from absinthe is it is very highly alcoholic.  It‘s up to 75 percent alcohol by volume.  So that‘s 150 proof.  That‘s the most important danger from it, is that you‘re not likely to drink that much strong alcohol normally with any other kind of drink.

The other thing that it has is a chemical called thujone, which is a mind stimulant.  And this was the stimulant that the artists of the 19th century were interested in taking because it gave them new and different ideas and bizarre fantasies.  And that‘s the other factor that makes absinthe a different kind of drink from any other kind of thing.

COSBY:  Yeah, Jad, you were hearing about these reports of hallucinations.  How wide-ranging are they?  And how severe could they be?

ADAMS:  Well, that depends on the strength of the thujone.  Now, you can buy absinthe in a lot of countries in Europe, but the European Union restricts the amount of thujone, the active ingredient, to 10 parts per million.  So that‘s not very much.  However, there is available a lot of black-market absinthe with people make in their own private stills, producing this stuff for sale on the black market, and that can be five or 10 times stronger.  So you can actually get a much more strongly hallucinogenic product.

COSBY:  Well, you know, Jad, I want to—this is from a passenger who was on the ship with George Smith.  He claims that a bottle of absinthe was purchased in Italy.  Remember, the cruise ship went all over in Europe.  You can buy it in Europe.  It‘s illegal in the states.  In fact, this is how the passenger described how the group, including George Smith, was drinking this:  “They drank the whole bottle.  When I got there, the bottle was empty.”

Is there any way to tell how potent that would be and how much affect that could have on maybe someone who hasn‘t had this kind of drink before?

ADAMS:  Well, unless you actually have the bottle or some of the substance to test, not really, I‘m afraid, though certainly someone who‘s not used to this substance, drinking a lot of it, will find it rather surprising and unusual.  They‘re going to have different kinds of ideas.

What absinthe really does, what its active ingredient does, is to take the brakes off the mind, and so the mind is over-stimulated, it‘s having lots of fresh and unusual, strange, bizarre ideas.  So that‘s the sort of thing it does.

COSBY:  Jad, thank you very much.  We appreciate it.  Interesting, because a liquor I‘d never heard about this until a few weeks ago.

Well, with more on the potential dangers of this very strong liquor, we are joined tonight by the coauthor of the book “Absinthe:  Sip of Seduction,” absinthe historian and also chemist, Theodore Breaux.

Mr. Breaux, you say that it‘s not as dangerous.  You have a bit of a different take.  Why is that?

THEODORE BREAUX, ABSINTHE HISTORIAN AND CHEMIST:  Well, first of all, I appreciate what Mr. Adams says, but his science is about 30 years behind.  You see, the thing is, is that was a longstanding belief about absinthe containing lots of thujone and that caused hallucinations.  But nowadays, we know that that‘s not true.

Personally, I‘ve studied absinthe for about 13 years.  And when I say studied absinthe, I‘ve studied absinthe from 100 years old, such as this bottle that I‘m holding up, which has been unopened, except for the removal of samples for scientific analysis, as well as new absinthes, which are made—some of them which are made exactly like the old ones were.

And the one thing we know is that absinthe, old and new, does not contain a lot of thujone.  And what we know, from certain scientific studies, which have been published in the past year or so, is that, first of all, thujone is not present in any absinthe in sufficient concentration to cause any type of deleterious effects in humans.  For me…


COSBY:  You‘re talking about hallucinations, right, in layman‘s terms?

BREAUX:  Oh, there are no hallucinations, so the only hallucinations that one will find is in reading 19th century romantic literature.  In reality, it doesn‘t exist.

COSBY:  But, Mr. Breaux, let me read you also—this is interesting.

We‘re looking at the alcohol content, at least of absinthe, versus beer.  Absinthe has an alcohol content of about 68 percent, while beer is a little closer to 4 percent or 5 percent.  When you look at that, that‘s a pretty big difference!

BREAUX:  That‘s correct.  And that‘s the thing.  You take any high-proof alcohol, whether it be a high-proof rum, absinthe or anything else, and you just imbibe it with, you know, without reservation, well, something‘s going to happen.  I mean, you take two people and sit down to a bottle of 80-proof tequila, I guarantee before you get to the bottom of that bottle someone‘s going to be dancing on the tables.  You know, I mean, there‘s nothing…

COSBY:  You know, we hear now that the bottle was empty.  Do you think it could have played a role in this case somehow?

BREAUX:  Absolutely not.  Absolutely not.


BREAUX:  And any absinthe that is sold in Europe does not contain enough thujone to cause any hallucinations.  I would have to consume about three liters of absinthe at the European limit to have any clinically discernable effects from thujone, and I‘d be long dead from the alcohol by that point.

Rita Cosby: Live and Direct January 24th 2006

Czech Absinthe in Mexico




It’s nice to see that Czech absinth is being enjoyed in Mexico!

TIJUANA – U.S. officials are surprised to find that absinthe, a wormwood-laced liquor banned in the United States more than 90 years ago amid concerns about its drug-like effects, is resurfacing at the border. Young adults returning from Tijuana are bringing back bottles, say customs officials who are now on the lookout for the liquor renowned in its heyday among writers and artists in bohemian Paris.

Known as la fée verte – “the green fairy” – because of its color and the hallucinations it is said to produce, absinthe is legal in Mexico and has been legalized in much of Europe over the past 10 years.

At San Ysidro, border agents started seizing bottles about a month ago and have confiscated about 30 since then, a supervisor said last week. “There was nothing a year ago,” said Chief Christine Schneider of Customs and Border Protection, who is now training border inspectors to look for the liquor. Absinthe’s effects are legendary and formed part of the plot of the 2001 blockbuster film “Moulin Rouge.” It was the rage in France 100 years ago. Writers Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe and Oscar Wilde sang the praises of the drink. Artists Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Edouard Manet and Pablo Picasso considered it as essential as brushes and paint for the creation of their paintings.Vincent van Gogh, it’s said, cut his ear off while using the stuff.

Absinthe, or absinth, as it’s spelled in Mexico and some parts of Europe, is highly alcoholic and made with a mixture of herbs.Mexico never banned absinthe, but it disappeared because of bans in Europe, where it was made, a distributor said. In the past few months, though, a Mexican-made version of the 110-proof liquor has reappeared in bars and liquor stores along Tijuana’s Avenida Revolución, where posters featuring a voluptuous raven-haired green fairy promise: “Your fuel for tonight . . . ”

For people who order the $8 cocktail, waiters place a sugar cube on a small strainer over a glass of ice, soak it with the green liquor, light it aflame and then mix it with cold water. The cloudy, greenish blend tastes like anisette “It’s a strong liquor,” said Roberto Lopez, a waiter at El Torito Pub, one of the bars that carries absinthe. “With two or three shots, you get real relaxed.” The bar also sells 180 ml bottles at $25 each.“People always ask if you can take it across the border,” said waitress Minda Ayala. She tells them it’s illegal in the United States, and that may be part of the appeal for U.S. tourists. “Since it’s prohibited over there, they come here and buy it,” she said. Liquor store clerks up and down the tourist strip say people ask about absinthe daily.

One liquor store on Revolución featured a bright yellow sign touting absinthe to passers-by. Inside, eight small bottles lined a shelf underneath a poster saying, “Not sold in USA. Sold Here. OK for USA Customs Border crossing.”A clerk who did not want to give his name said he was surprised by news of the border seizures. He said the store used to carry a European absinthe that sold for $145 a bottle, and buyers were curious.“They would look at it,” he said. “But they wouldn’t buy it because of the price.”

Juan Rubalcava, a Mexico City importer who markets Czech absinthe, said distribution is slowly picking up, but most of his sales – targeted at high-end drinkers – are in the country’s capital, not border towns such as Tijuana.

And over the years, factories in the Czech Republic quietly continued to produce absinthe, as did bootleggers in Switzerland.

Then, in the 1990s, countries throughout Western Europe began legalizing absinthe while limiting the thujone content, and commercial production was resumed.

Czech producers, freed from Communist government control, began exporting their product.

And Pernod reintroduced its original formulation of absinthe, which is sold in Europe and Canada but not in the United States or Mexico. It has become a chic drink in bars in London, where it was never banned, and it’s now sold on the Internet, where some marketers say it’s not hard to get past customs. And, aside from the twin effects of alcohol and thujone, part of absinthe’s allure over the centuries is the ritual of sweetening and diluting the bitter liquor, according to a 2002 article in Modern Drunkard magazine.

“There is a certain sense of superiority that goes along with the ritual,” the magazine said. “While the peasants in the corner merely pour their booze in a glass and lap it down like wild animals, we, the smart people, the insiders in the know, are engaging in nothing less than alcoholic alchemy!”


Absinthe: The Effects

Oscar Wilde

What about the effects of drinking absinthe? Here are two reports from London and Chicago:

One night I was left sitting, drinking alone, and very late in the Café Royal, and I had just got into the third stage when a waiter came in with a green apron and began to pile the chairs on the tables. “Time to go, sir” he called to me. Then he brought in a watering can and began to water the floor. “Time’s up, sir. I’m afraid you must go now, sir.”

“Waiter, are you watering the flowers?”, I asked but he didn’t answer.

“What are your favorite flowers, waiter?” I asked again. “Now sir, I must really ask you to go now, time’s up, he said firmly. “I’m sure that tulips are your favorite flowers, I said, and as I got up and passed out into the street I felt the heavy tulip heads brushing against my shins.”

Oscar Wilde, London (1890) describes the effects of absinthe drinking

Czech Depp

Johnny Depp enjoys an absinthe whilst filming “From Hell” in Prague


The last time I did this, I lost the feeling in my legs,” says Ryan Kattner, aka Honus Honus, the mustachioed lead vocalist in Philly band Man Man. A 50-cent lighter spits a spade-shaped flame at a sugar-coated spoon, casting a soft neon green glow on a generously poured glass of absinthe. It looks like we’re cooking crack over a vat of food coloring, but it tastes like liquefied licorice and sweet moonshine.

“That’s actually kinda good,” says multi-instrumentalist Billy Dufala (stage name: Chang Wang) as he downs another hefty glass of green fairy juice. Good but strange. While no one’s had enough to make the room morph into Moulin Rouge, it takes only a few minutes before we all feel like cumulus clouds — floating somewhere between being stoned, drunk and (though I’m surrounded by dudes with three-week-old facial hair) aphrodisiac-addled.

Chicago, USA (2007)


Absinthe House

Fee Verte

Here is an interesting development, according to the venerable Old Absinthe House in New Orleans, Jack the Ripper was an absintheur!

As it turns out, Absinthe was indeed a dangerous substance, as the wormwood used for making it had narcotic properties. The consumption of Absinthe was associated with hallucinations, delirium, madness and even death. It is further rumored that Jack the Ripper, an unknown killer of a number of prostitutes in 1888, went mad through his addiction of Absinthe. Consequently, it was outlawed in the United States in 1912.

The Absinthe House Frappe

Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice add:
1 1/4 ounce of Absinthe
1/4 ounce of Anisette
top with a splash of soda water

The Old Absinthe House
240 Bourbon Street
New Orleans

Strong Alcohol – Shades of Absinthe

Green Fairy

Absinthe allegedly caused madness in the minds of writers during the Belle Epoque. These days it seems you don’t need to drink absinthe, or any alcoholic drink, to write crazy prose. I came across this extraordinary writing in Pravda:

Strong Alcohol Drinks Destroy Russian Gene Bank

Another legend says that drinking alcohol is absolutely normal for a Russian person. This is definitely not normal. A drinking man is an enemy to himself and to his family. Russians are a small nation – less than one percent of the Earth’s population. That is why, if Russian people destroy their own gene bank, they will gradually mix up with other nations.

Pravda means truth in Russian, but what is going on here? It sounds very similar to the rants of anti-absinthe zealot, Dr Magnan, whose experiments on guinea pigs were used by an unholy alliance of abolitionists and the wine growing lobby to ban absinthe in the early years of the 20th Century. Magnan firmly believed that absinthe represented a grave danger to the French genetic pool. Magnan even gave evidence to the distasteful eugenics movement, which was a precursor to the darker racial based theories that were to blight the Continent years later.

I am sorry to see that this sort of nonsense is given breathing room in a mainstream publication.

On a happier note our friends at Oxygenee Ltd are offering this charming absinthe pitcher:


Collecting absinthe from the pre-ban era is an area of growing interest. This absinthe pitcher, in the form of a bull dog, is an unusal and rare example. Absinthe spoons, absinthe fountains and absinthe glasses are all avidly collected by enthusiasts. If you are interested in starting your own collection then visit the one authoritative souce for absinthiana:

Boule Dogue” is looking for a new home. Like all absinthe antiques you can actually use him when enjoying a glass! Sante!

Thujone in Absinthe


Absinthe: attention performance and mood under the influence of thujone. : An article from: Journal of Studies on Alcohol

Objective: The aim of this study was to determine whether the impacts of absinthe on attention performance and mood were different from those experienced with beverages that contain only alcohol. The ingredient causing absinthe’s toxicity is believed to be thujone. Method: A total of 25 healthy subjects participated in the study. An attention performance test and two questionnaires testing different mood dimensions were used. Three drinks with an identical amount of alcohol but with different amounts of thujone were offered. Results: The results of the present study showed that the simultaneous administration of alcohol containing a high concentration of thujone had a negative effect on attention performance. Under this condition, the subjects tended to direct their attention to signals in the central field of attention and to neglect peripheral signals; the number of correct reactions decreased significantly in the peripheral field of attention, and reaction time and the number of “false alarm” reactions increased significantly. The effects were most prominent at the time of the first measurement. When the subjects were under the influence of alcohol or were administered both alcohol and a low thujone concentration, these effects were not observed. The assessment of mood state dimensions showed that the anxiolytic effect of alcohol was temporarily counteracted by a high thujone concentration. Conclusions: As they are apparently opposed to the effect of alcohol, the reactions observed here can be explained by the antagonistic effect of thujone on the gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor. Similar alterations were observed for the other mood state dimensions examined.

Seems pretty clear to me 🙂