Wormwood School

A new method of punishment has come to light – perfect for punishing those that disobey the edict: “Thou shalt not set fire to thine absynth” (Song of Gwydion Verse III) It dates back to the absinthe era and so passes muster with the traditionalists. You have been warned.

The school district of East Lichfield is aroused because of the discovery that one of the country school teachers has abandoned the old methods of chastisement and has been compelling disobedient pupils to eat herbs, wild turnip, boneset, and wormwood.

The teacher is a spare the rod advocate, and her method, she says,was to stop the boys plugging the chimney, releasing mice and hard shell crickets, and throwing pepper on the stove.

First she had three recesses a day instead of two and worked other innovations to cement friendships. This failing to take the children’s attention from mischief,she tried the new one, and now the parents are angry.

(New York Post 1907)

Boneset

Eating wormwood? Actually wormwood is used in the kitchen. It is used as stuffing for various meats – lamb, pork and mostly famously goose. According to one source it is also “used with turnips” to make them more exciting 🙂

The Problem of Thujone in Modern Absinthe

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POSSIBILITIES TO REDUCE THE THUJONE CONTENT

Today’s manufacturers face the problem that they have to generate a distinctive wormwood taste, without exceeding the thujone maximum limit of 35 mg/kg. The selective enrichment of the bitter and flavor compounds, while keeping the thujone concentration low, was extensively investigated (45).

Tegtmeier et al. (46) compared a water extraction to an alcohol extraction method By the percolation with water or alcohol (30%vol) no thujone could be extracted, because the solubility of thujone in water is poor. Only by the application of ethanol 90%vol, it was possible to extract 0.18 mg thujone per g wormwood herb. When the method of digestion with ethanol 30%vol was applied, 0.17 mg thujone per g wormwood herb could be extracted. The largest yields were obtained, whenever the macerate of the wormwood herb was distilled (0.24 mg thujone/g). The use of hot and highly concentrated alcohol for the extraction should therefore be avoided to obtain extracts with a low content of thujone. Because the percolation with pure water might lead to a loss of microbiological quality, the percolation with ethanol 30%vol is regarded as the method of choice. This method is described as being easy to handle and economic. Gambelunghe and Melai (47) verified these results. Wormwood macerated with ethanol 20%vol for 30 days contained only 0.2 mg/I of thujone, while the maceration of wormwood with ethanol 95%vol for 6 months contained 62 mgll of thujone. The consequence for the absinthe manufactures is that traditional recipes and methods have to be modified, in order to avoid thujone contents, which exceed the limit. The maceration should be done with low concentrations of alcohol and the wormwood herb should be separated before the distillation.

A possibility for the continuation of traditional recipes is to remove the thujone from the wormwood herb before the maceration. Stahl and Gerard (48) observed, that the extraction with liquid or supercritical carbon dioxide provides a fast, selective and quantitative method for the separation of thujone from the wormwood herb. Absinthin, which is responsible for the high bitter value of wormwood, remains in the herb. It is therefore possible to generate nearly thujone free wormwood herb and to use it for the manufacturing of absinthe. However, the application of this method for the manufacturing of spirit drinks was never described.

The most elegant alternative to avoid the toxic thujone may be the use of thujone-free wormwood herb, which is available in certain cultivation areas,IO.16 and appears to be perfect for the use in the spirit drink producing industry. With those chemotypes, it would be possible to produce absinthe with wormwood quantities on the basis of the traditional recipes, without the manufacturer facing the risk of exceeding the thujone limit.

Lachenmeier, D. W., S. G. Walch, S. A. Padosch, and L. U. Kroner. 2006. Absinthe–a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 46:365-77.

Strong Absinthe in the USA

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Drinking different types of absinthe in the USA from Mark Pearson of the Summit Daily News in Colorado:

Absinthe, banned in most countries in the early 1900s, is still prohibited in the U.S., although legal to procure, possess and imbibe as it is not considered a controlled substance. It allegedly can cause hallucinations, the most popular being of a green fairy, aka. La Fee Verte.

I chose two different versions, Francois Guy and Franco Suisse. My coworker ordered the pick of the month for his groomsmen and Strong 68 for himself. Less than two weeks and $190 later, my share of the package arrived intact, as did the others, well packed in a cardboard box and stamped in words ending in icht.

Wow, this stuff was strong! I took a sip. Yup, tastes just like it smells. Black licorice. I grimaced. I offered a glass to my roommate and her friend. Not even the two of them could finish it. I will say this; it did give me a good buzz. Later on, after a few trials, I figured out that if I added a lot of ice and a little more water, it was a decent drink. And after being on the wagon for a year, I was a cheap date. Two kept me buzzed for several hours.

My officemate and I had planned on a sampling party, so one night after work I joined him at his house. If I thought my versions of absinthe were strong, my buddy’s version grew hair in your ears and nose. My head jerked like I had Tourette’s, and I uttered a few curses that made the dog run for cover.

Source

If I am reading this correctly: his buddy’s absinthe is a macerate, boasts 68% alcohol, as well as 35mg thujone. I quite like that quote, although my favourite is still from a Czech drinking absinth in 1941, who described it as like “dissolved lizards” Then of course we have the words of a famous Val de Travers distiller:

Mais je vous avouerai que la dégustation avec celle à 42 mg/kg a donné des surprises qui en disent long sur l’interdiction de l’absinthe en 1910 en Suisse et 1915 en France.

But I would admit that the degustation conducted on the 42mg/kg has led to many surprises which reveal a lot on the prohibition of absinthe in 1910 in Switzerland and in 1915 in France.

L’absinthe n’est pas un alcool “aimable”. Il a un effet stupéfiant à haute dose. La thuyone n’est pas seule en cause. Le mélange des diverses plantes et graines est détonnant. Au 19e siècle, on qualifiait l’absinthe d’opium du peuple. Je ne suis pas moraliste. C’est juste une mise en garde.

Not the sole cause? His experiment drinking some glasses of absinthe, from a batch yielding 42mg, are an interesting insight into the reality behind the modern day myths about thujone. Thujone doesn’t matter we are told – but by whom? Those that want to sell absinthe today in a climate that allows thujone up to 35mg in the European Union – and ZERO – big fat nothing- 0 mg – in the United States. Another factor to remember is that thujone levels are a good benchmark of the quality of the wormwood used in production – generally the higher the quality of the natural plant, the higher the thujone level. Tonight I can enjoy a glass of 35mg thujone absinthe – 7mg short of this distiller’s Val de Travers batch – I know what to expect.


Lucid opinions on Absinthe?

Bitter and Twisted

Absinthe Taste Test: Are New Brands the Real Deal?

“I’d like to take them both outside and light them on fire!

An interesting and amusing piece on Lucid absinthe from New York Magazine comparing Swiss oldtimer Absinthe KĂĽbler & new absinthe baby Lucid – both now legal in the United States:

How does Lucid strike you when you drink it straight? I’m smelling more of the pastis than I am of the wormwood. But as it evaporates I do feel a slight bitterness on my tongue that lets me know it’s in the absinthe family.

Do you think absinthe does produce a different sort of “high” than other liquors? Yes. Drinking anything with the accurate amount of wormwood produces a different experience. A lot of people report not feeling drunk or down but feeling up and exhilarated. :mrgreen:

http://nymag.com/daily/food/2007/10/absinthe_taste_test_are_new_br.html

Absinthe in a can – Fairy Bomb!

Green Fairy Bomb

Trendy nightclubers can now get a refreshing blast of real Czech absinth in a handy form! There are many Czech absinthe cocktails that mix energy drinks and absinthe, and now that refreshing buzz is available as the Fairy Bomb.

Looks like fun 🙂

Absinthe still illegal in USA?

 

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Absinth Bar, Prague 1 – legally drinking absinthe

Police responded to Posada San Pedro Residence Hall, 601 N. Highland Ave., at 1:14 a.m. Monday after a resident assistant reported hearing a loud noise from a room. When the RA investigated, she heard bottles clinking and someone say, “Let’s take another shot,” according to reports. Police knocked on the door and were let in by two male students. Police saw two empty bottles of absinthe, and the students’ eyes were bloodshot.

The students said they did not know that absinthe was illegal in the United States. They were diverted to the Dean of Students Office.

Source: University of Arizona Police Department

The report doesn’t say whether the cops checked the thujone level of the absinthe – to see whether it was illegal or not. Perhaps the police should consider carrying mobile thujone testing kits? or a handy list of thujone free (USA safe) absinthe brands, like Lucid and Absente, to ensure they don’t make any mistakes. “Hey…this tests within the 0 -10 milligrame thujone range prescribed by the TTB as being “thujone free”…it’s legal, officer!”

“According to the FDA, alcoholic beverages must be thujone-free pursuant to 21 CFR 172.510″ Source

Absinthe Glass

Absinthe Glass

Here’s a strange piece of absinthe kit. This curiosity was created for mixing drinks in New York 1882. It is an mixing and straining cup with a perforated base and below that a stop cock.

This device also had an additional cup with a small centre perforation in it’s bottom “fitted over the straining-cup, to be used for absinthe” Mr Anton Eggers was trying to make life easier for American bar-keepers serving absinthe and other drinks. I think I’ll stick to a traditional absinthe glass, absinthe spoon and a bottle of Dobrá Voda. I suppose the Egger’s “absinthe cup” is something of a rarity.