Authentic Absinthe

Experience the real thing.

by Jan Walsh, Photography by Beau Gustafson

Throughout history absinthe (ab-sinth) has been misunderstood. It has been both wildly popular and completely banned for driving people “crazy,” which includes pushing Van Gogh to cut off his own ear.

Ted Breaux is an absinthe expert and producer. His mission is to educate the public about this spirit, encourage them to taste real absinthe, and stay away from its knockoffs. In 1993, this New Orleans native was working as a chemist in a research lab. Curious about absinthe “that green liquor that makes you crazy,” Beaux looked to the Merck Index and found “Caution: ingestion of the liquor absinthe can cause hallucinations, convulsions, death.” Next he read everything available on absinthe, which turned his curiosity into an obsession and a trip to France seeking bottles of vintage, pre-ban absinthe. He chemically analyzed these bottles for thujone—blamed for absinthe’s effects. He found only trace amounts, proving absinthe can make you drunk but not crazy.

Before today I had previously tasted Beaux’s Lucid absinthe once at Café Dupont—in a drink made with the bar’s vintage absinthe fountain. Notes of anise, fennel, and herb are balanced with the sharpness of the wormwood, while sweetened with a minty flavor from the sugar melted into the glass. But there were no mind-altering effects. Its effect left me no more crazy than ever, and perhaps a little less. Thus the name Lucid, for the after-effect Beaux describes as “bringing a sense of clarity.”

Today we taste four other absinthes, from Beaux’s company, Jade Liqueurs:  Esprit Edouard Absinthe Supérieure, C.F. Berger, Nouvelle-Orléans Absinthe Supérieure, and Jade 1901 Absinthe Supérieure. Esprit Edouard Absinthe Supérieure was the first absinthe released by Jade. Reverse engineered from sealed antique bottles of the original liquor, Esprit Edouard is a reproduction of a famous pre-ban 72° absinthe, authentic in its delicacy of color, refined texture and aromatics. C. F. Berger is a recreation of the original C.F. Berger 65º absinthe verte, crafted by hand using select botanicals from the original regions, distilled in ancient copper absinthe alembics, and characteristic of the best Swiss-style absinthes. It offers herbal notes, fragrant aromas, is full in body and has a rounded mouth feel. Nouvelle-Orléans Absinthe Supérieure was inspired by original absinthes that made the Sazerac cocktail and absinthe frappé famous. It is light and stimulating on the palate, with a delightful floral finish. And Jade 1901 Absinthe Supérieure is the second release from Jade Liqueurs, recreated as a tribute to a pre-ban absinthe from 1901. It is balanced, crisp, and offers herbal aromas. Experience authentic absinthes in any of these bottles.

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