ABSINTHE DRINKS, SPOONS & GLASSES
Review by Barb & Ron Kroll
A Taste for Absinthe - 65 recipes for classic & contemporary cocktails
(Clarkson Potter) ISBN 978-0307587534 0307587533
You can now buy absinthe, the once-banned anise-based spirit. Called the Green Fairy (la Fee Verte) and the Green Goddess, real absinthe is made from wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), green anise seed and fennel seed. A Taste for Absinthe provides 65 absinthe recipes and information on absinthe fountains, glasses, spoons and tools for making absinthe cocktails.
A Taste for Absinthe is like a bartending school for absinthe, in a book, organized by classic absinthe cocktails and mixers for absinthe drinks (whiskey, gin, fruit juices, bitters, liqueurs etc.).
The introduction includes absinthe history. For example, it was once believed that the chemical thujone, found in wormwood, caused hallucinations in absinthe drinkers. Strict manufacturing regulations now ensure that absinthe contains safe levels of the neurotoxin, thujone.
One sidebar discusses absinthe side effects (depression from the alcohol and stimulation from the anethole in anise). Another explains what to look for on labels when buying absinthe (e.g., the word 'distilled' and no added sugar or artificial color). Others provide information about movies that include absinthe (e.g., Madame X, Moulin Rouge).
Recipe introductions credit the bartender and describe the flavors and the absinthe glass recommended for each drink. For example, R. Winston Guthrie credits the Green Goddess drink recipe to Neyah White of Napa, in San Francisco, and recommends the use of Genevese basil, which does not augment the licorice flavors.
Recipe sidebars include additional information, such as other ingredients used to flavor absinthe (hyssop, angelica root, juniper, coriander etc.).
Color photos by Liza Gershman depict how to make cocktails by dripping cold water from an absinthe fountain through a sugar cube on a slotted spoon into a glass. Other photos depict bartending techniques by absinthe experts, like Jeff Hollinger, manager of Absinthe Brasserie & Bar in San Francisco.
How to buy absinthe
An absinthe buying guide, at the back of the 176-page cocktail recipe book, provides information on how to purchase absinthe: prices, colors (clear or green), alcohol content, distilleries and absinthe importers with locations and websites where you can buy absinthe online.
Descriptions highlight the differences between brands of absinthe. For example, Duplais Verte absinthe releases a green louche (cloud) that is billowing and opalescent as cold water is slowly added.
A Taste for Absinthe answers questions about absinthe such as: what is the difference between real absinthe and fake absinthe? Real absinthe is at least 50% alcohol (100 proof), unsweetened and turns cloudy with the addition of cold water.
R. Winston Guthrie also explains what gives absinthe verte its green color (chlorophyll from infused herbs). One sidebar explains the spelling of absinthe with an 'e' by the French and Swiss, and without an 'e' (absinth) by the Germans. In Spain, bottles are labeled absenta.
Sample absinthe recipes
Absinthe drip. Absinthe and old lace. Zombie punch. Absinthe martini. Absinthe fizz. Blueberry-infused gin.
- Absinthe Classics
- Fruit & Citrus
- Whiskey & Gin
- Liqueurs & Bitters
- Modern Classics & Cutting Edge
R. Winston Guthrie is the founder of the Absinthe Buyers Guide website, which provides information on how to buy absinthe and how to find absinthe fountains, glasses, spoons and other accessories.