St. George Spirits Absinthe Verte?
- Melanie Wong Jan 4, 2008 06:14 PM
On the last morning of 2007, _Daily Candy_ teased us with a green fairy tale about St. George Spirits new Absinthe Verte. But, uh oh, it's sold out until the next batch is ready at the end of January.
Has anyone tried it? According to Biteclub, it's avalable at Traverso's in Santa Rosa.
Traverso's Gourmet Foods
2097 Stagecoach Rd,, Santa Rosa, CA
St. George Spirits
2601 Monarch St, Alameda, CA
as I mentioned before in reply to another mysteriously disappeared post, I had a glass of it at Wood Tavern ($15) in Oakland & Flora in Oakland also has it, for $14 a glass. Flora supposedly has a special fancy decanter for it. Pricey, but delicious. My coworker waited in line at Hangar One on its release day for 3 hours to get her bottle!
I just did tonight. It was the second time I headed to Hayes Valley (the first time was right before Thanksgiving two months ago) to go back to Sebo, only to meet a CLOSED sign. Why can't Michael or Danny change the outgoing voice message to tell their loyal customers?! And I had to rush there to make their 6 PM opening time so that I could get the seats I wanted at the bar!
Anyway my friend and I debated heading for the happy hour at Nihon or Koo as an alternative, but the sake lady at True Sake reminded us Tsukiji was closed. So we went into Absinthe in the neighborhood. Two absinthes from France, and one, the most expensive one close to $20, from St George/Hangar One. You know which one I ordered. ;-)
Wow for something 120-proof this was exceedingly smooth. The pour was a bit stingy, but maybe I'm the most generous bartender myself in the world. Greenish and herbal as expected, you would hit the licorice and anise notes, but in a very grassy base. Indeed very "verte." I tried some bread with butter while sipping this baby, first straight and then with a bit of ice and just a tiny bit of water through the sugar cube, and strangely the absinthe managed to change the taste of the bread/butter to something else. There were many other herbal notes like basil, fennel, and star anise all mashed together.
I finally broke into my bottle this weekend.
First and foremost, there is no thujone. That pleasant extra little absinthe feeling is missing - it's like drinking decaf coffee. Very similar - you can taste the bitter note in coffee, and whatever they take out has a similar bite. Accounts, partially, for the smoothness
Given that the entire EU allows thujone, and you can buy absinthe with thujone online and in bars, I don't get why the law says no real absinthe
That being said, it's smooth like crazy. Very strong in anise, almost to the point of pushing out every other taste, but the other herbs are there, creating an unctuous base. Tasty.
I think I prefer with a good bit of water, maybe about 3 to 1. Does not require sugar cubes or fire. Uncut it's just too strong to taste.
The price is too high for faux, though. I would stock it at $25, but at $75 I can't justify other than as a curiosity
In the end, absinthe without thujone is not absinthe.
re: Melanie Wong
Ok, so I did my research on this, and I must admit to some confusion on my part.
Some say the FDA restrictions are "undetectable levels", and the limit on the detection is 10 ppm. Some say simply as you have quoted, that 10ppm is the limit. I remain confused.
There are apparently reviled czech absinthes which claim to have vastly more thujone and are available in the US. Having had a bit of absinthe in prague over the last few years, I may or may may not have had more thujone - although I haven't tasted anything as rank as the high-thujone reviews I've read.
I've been working my way through a bottle of La Fee, rated at 50 (thus middle-of-the-road) by http://www.feeverte.net/ that I picked up in Heathrow (it's actually at a friend's house, as he has a makeshift fountain). It has a touch more bitter, and that peculiar tongue-numbing and slight euphoria. I can't find a quote of how much thujone in that particular absinthe. The rule appears to be that reputable Absinthes don't quote thujone percentages.
Since I haven't been over to my friend's house, I haven't been properly louching, instead doing a slow hand pour of ice water. Being more systematic would, perhaps, bring out more taste from the St George's. So far I've been tasting nearly 100% anise, and not much behind it. Clearly, I should do a blind head-to-head.
I also attended the parties at the 9th and Folsom space over the last few years. It's a little tough to make critical tastings in such a fun space, so I'll just leave it at that.
I have become accustomed to a slight bitter edge in absinthe, much like the taste that distinguishes caffeinated coffee from decaf, and perhaps causing one to add a sugar cube. On further reading, it could be that taste is not desirable, and perhaps St George is better for not having it. Further, I'm used to a certain very slight euphoria that's unlikely a standard alcohol feeling, which I have not felt with St George.
Those are my actual personal experiences and measurements. Not owning much in the way of chemical analysis tools, I shouldn't talk about this hyped thujone. I hear there's lots of herbs in there.
That all having been said, I think the St George product is very tasty, and every sip I take, I like the bottle a little more. I look forward to greater exposure and availability of the world's absinthes in the US, as it's a very pleasant drink. I balk a little that I spent so much on the bottle, but it *is* tasty, and when I compare to $14/glass, I can kid myself the bottle was a bargain.
Thank you, Absinthe is completely new to me, as I'm not much of a spirits person. I found this reference for thujone specs, and if you scan down there are gas chromatography results for 17 samples of absinthe, dated 2004.
Haven't had time to read the whole thing yet.
And, here's Jordan Mackay on St. George's Absinthe and others -
2221 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612
6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618
580 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94108
1900 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612