HOME > Chowhound > Spirits >
Oct 27, 2006 02:31 AM

Real Absinthe...."King of Spirits"

I just got a gift from a Czech friend who warned me to "watch out" when I drank this. Other than the high proof (150 I think) do I really have to worry about all the twig material floating in the bottle? He says that's what gives it a 'kick'. Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. He's probably referring to wormwood. It's reputed to have psychoactive properties, particularly a compound called thujone, which is, I believe, still illegal in the US. Hey, I won't tell.

    But I'm a little confused, because wormwood isn't a woody plant, and has flowers and leaves, not twigs. The twigs may be from anise, which is another main component, and gives absinthe it's classic Pernod-like taste (only a million times more bitter). If they're not anise, they're some other herb; there could be two dozen different things in there.

    The "real absinthe" I've had (made locally by amateurs infusing Everclear with herbs including wormwood) is so unspeakably vile that I didn't stick around long enough for the trippy aspects. You're supposed to consume it in an elaborate ritual involving dripping water through a sugar cube on a special absinthe spoon into the liquor, which clouds it and turns it green. Then, you sip the drink, and then run gasping for something, anything to clean your mouth out with. I would compare the flavor to a nice, low-octane gasoline.

    Your taste may differ. I'm not sure how "high" you're going to get off the wormwood, but aside from the high proof, I don't think it'll have any deleterious effects. Anything on those twigs that would hurt you died a long time ago in the alcohol.

    3 Replies
    1. re: fnarf

      You are correct that genuine absinthe does contain thujone, and therefore is illegal to import to the US. However, the amount of thujone in absinthe is so low that you would die of alcohol poisoning before the thujone had any effect.

      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

        Funny you mention the amount of 'thujon'. I copied the following from a Czech website...."most brands of absinthe on the market only have 10 mg of thujone due to regulations on thujone levels in the EU. The only two brands having the original level of thujone are the "Zele Premium Absinthe" at 111 mg and "King of Spirits Gold" at 100 mg because they both are produced in the Czech Republic where there are no restrictions." So with ten times the normal amount of thujon, does your statement still hold true?

        1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

          I believe the EU allows up to 35mg. I have one from Austria (mata hari) that says it has 35mg of thujone. We've been working on the bottle for about two years (we usually bring it out when friends are visiting from the US and are suffering from jetlag). My alcohol tolerance level just isn't high enough to be able to really appreciate the psychotropic effects. It does seem to produce a happy drunk feeling.

          Of course lots of people (and bars) make their own here. The plant is readily available from florists and herb stores and grows wild in many places.

      2. The absinthe is green to start with and turns milky white after you add the water. Without the sugar, I think it would be very, very difficult to get down.

        1. Mmmm, it all sounds so very delicious! Perhaps I'll just leave it on the bar for now as a conversation piece. Thanks for the replies!

          1. Did the stick look something like this:


            If so, then it's licorice.

            1. i just want to point out, that czeck absinthe is generally regarded as being worse than inferior. also, you CAN NOT make your own, unless you happen to be running an unregistered still in your backyard. once the alchohol is infused, it has to then be re-distilled. and yes, the statement that you won't get any effect from it still holds true to the high thurjone absinthes.

              3 Replies
              1. re: ashwood

                I don't think it is illegal to make your own for your own consumption where I live. Lots of people here (particularly in small towns) have their own little copper stills and make infused liquors. Which is not to say that they are particularly good...

                1. re: butterfly

                  On Spain, yes -- but one of the problems withthis website is that no one really knows where anyone lives. In the US, it is legal to be a home winemaker, legal to be a home brewer, but ILLEGAL to distill . . .

                2. re: ashwood

                  Actually there are clearly different grades of Czech Absinthe, not all of which are "worse than inferior"