Yes, absinthe. Yes, I realize how dreadful that pun happens to be.
I could go on about how I have been burdened with my crazy-neurotic fears of student loan debt, or how the effects of having adults use the word “gimme” on a regular basis slowly whittles away at my sanity (which, I suspect, looks like an old-timey whistle or something by now).
Never mind all of that, however, because this is a post about (at least, in part) absinthe. The green fairy so many people have chased in the past all across Europe, this potent spirit has quite an air of mystery to it. Maybe it’s the elaborate, ritualistic preparation of a proper absinthe drink; the slotted spoon, the sugar cube, and so on. Or maybe it was the allure of a drink that caused hallucinations (I kid, of course; I see the world through some pretty magical filters without the aid of hallucinogenic substances, thank you very much).
Ultimately, it had to do with the drink’s association with artists, and their oh-so-quirky, unconventional ways. And my tendency to give in to my personal whims. To add perspective: I tried Jack Daniel’s because it was mentioned in Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” as Mr. Wednesday’s drink of choice (Spoiler alert: going from no booze to straight Jack is, well, a great way to test the mettle of your tongue. Mine still has a restraining order out against me since that.
Some very basic stats about absinthe before I continue:
- The particular bottle I purchased was about $62 after tax, all things considered
- It was 60% alcohol by volume (120 proof)
- The green color is clearly visible through the bottle, but less noticeable once in a shot glass
- You should be measuring the use of this spirit with a shot glass
- Unless you really want to familiarize yourself with intense drunkenness
- And possibly vomiting (nobody likes vomiting)
I procured a bottle of Vieux Carre absinthe (which, I must warn, is not the least expensive booze to purchase), and embarked on my own journey to chase the green fairy. Things to keep in mind while reading include that I did not have a slotted spoon, so that eliminated the classic absinthe drinking options. Google revealed a good number of mixed drinks featuring absinthe also happened to involve egg whites. Bit of a deal-breaker, that. Much Googling later, a drink called the Traffic Light was chosen. It’s a simple mixed drink, and involves absinthe (of course), orange juice, and cranberry juice. If mixed carefully, a layering effect produces a traffic light pattern.
If you mix it anything like I did, you’ll get a very vibrant pink concoction that smells quite strongly of licorice (thanks to the liquer’s anise content). The drink itself had a pleasant, sweet taste to it, and left me feeling warm and thoughtful. It also helped contribute to some really enjoyable live-tweeting of the Oscars. Or, as others may have perceived it, being obnoxious in one-hundred-and-forty characters or less.
While it may not be the stuff of legend from Europe, I will say the green fairy’s possibly tamer (I hope not, because I fear a wilder version of this would only be suited for simulating intense schizophrenia) cousin has left a good impression on me.
Oh, and I’m not dead from the experience so I suppose I could chalk that up as a victory as well.