Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Spirits >
May 1, 2007 10:01 AM

Bringing Absinthe back to the US?

My sister, much more of a liqueur aficionado than myself, wants me to bring back a bottle of Absinthe for her from France. Has anyone done this? Is it legal?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Lots have done it. No, its not legal.

    1. I know folks who did it, but sweated it the whole time. Here's the person to ask:

      1. There is, apparently, a legal option in the states, or soon to be.

        A company called Viridian Spirits is making a legal Absinthe approved by the Feds.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ccbweb

          Yes, the new absinthe is called Lucid

          Also, Marilyn Manson, the shock/goth/rocker guy, is supposed to be releasing his own brand called Mansinthe.

          This subject of bringing absinthe into the US is discussed frequently at the two main US absinthe forums. I've heard of one person who placed false labels on clandestine (at the time) Swiss absinthe to bring into the country. I don't know what they said, maybe aftershave or cologne.

          There is also a lot of talk on the forums about the imminent release of legal absinthes in the US

        2. Is "legal absinthe" really absinthe? Or is it just a sexy marketing name for "Pernod"? Absinthe without the wormwood is like booze without alcohol.

          2 Replies
          1. re: embee

            Hey embee, there's a right vicious debate raging on the absinthe forum at www.feeverte right now. Quite amusing.

            This link dumps you onto the last page of the thread. Pages 13-15 are particularly wicked. In a nutshell, this new 'absinthe' called Lucid has passed muster with the govt.
            The Lucid website, claims:

            "Lucid has been tested and it meets US and EU standards for content. It is worth noting that using modern equipment, T.A. Breaux, the distiller of Lucid, has analyzed dozens of bottles of traditional, high-quality vintage Absinthe from the Belle Époque period and has determined that quality Absinthe that was properly made typically did not have any significant Thujone content- even 100 years ago."

            "Moreover, thanks to T.A. Breaux's modern testing of vintage bottles of Absinthe from over 100 years ago, we now know that, just as with Lucid, most of the high quality Absinthes from the 1800's would meet today's US standards for content, further discrediting the theory that Thujone had any real relevance to the Absinthe experience."

            The FDA law below:
            [Code of Federal Regulations]
            [Title 21, Volume 3]
            [Revised as of April 1, 2004]
            [CITE: 21CFR172.510


            Artemisia (wormwood), Artemisia spp, Finished food thujone free...
            As determined by using the method (or, in other than alcoholic beverages, a suitable adaptation thereof) insection 9.129 of the "Official Methods of Analysis of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists," 13thEd. (1980).

            Sooo...if Lucid is being sold in the US, then your suspicion that it is just a sexy marketing ploy is not unfounded. BTW, Ted Breaux, the distiller of Lucid, is taking a heap of criticism for what many absintheurs see as a sell-out, and pure history revision to boot.

            1. Note that most Chowhound discussion of absinthe is in the spirits forum. For example:


              taco clandestino rightly quotes standing US FDA requirement of "finished food thujone free." Unfortunately, much discussion of this subject online nowadays (such as on the feeverte site), and in commercial promotions (Ted Breaux, etc.), and even popular journalism, prefers to argue about myths and notions rather than to address longstanding basic realities:

              -- "Thujone-free" absinthe is not news, it was an absinthe selling point in early 1900s;

              -- Thujone itself is a false issue (US FDA regulations on it are internally contradictory). After the early-1900s absinthe ban, thujone was recognized in "many essential oils" of plants such as common cooking sage (this was in mainstream scientific texts by the 1940s). Moreover, its lethal dose level (everything has a lethal dose level, including water) is the same as caffeine's. By this measure a cup of coffee at 100-200 mg caffeine is more "toxic" than the thujone in even a full bottle of thujone-rich absinthe (details in link above);

              -- Informed spirits experts, for decades, have tried to demystify absinthe. "It is not because of the wormwood that it is dangerous but rather because of its alcoholic strength" (Grossman, 4th edition, 1964). Much of the discussion you see online works in the opposite direction.

              Further discussion of absinthe itself belongs in the spirits forum:


              2 Replies
              1. re: eatzalot

                You'll have to check your bags, of course, but it's not illegal. All the mystique about the poisonous aspects of Absinthe and wormwood (blah blah blah) have been discredited. I've had it myself and experienced nothing but the usual good old buzz. Cheers!

                1. re: RosieN

                  Rational or not, Absinthe is on the list of items that are prohibited for import to by US Customs: