« Top 10 Baltimore song list | Main | Hilarious James Brown interview »

March 5, 2008

My thoughts on absinthe

Absinthe has an undeniable mystique.

We couldn't get it legally in the U.S. for almost a century.

So when I got my hands on some back in college, I felt like a 14-year-old sneaking a cigarette or a six-pack of Milwaukee's Best.

My roommate Sammy brought a few bottles back from Israel junior year.

I'm not sure whether it was real or fake. I remember drinking a ton of it but not feeling drunk, though.

I felt surprisingly aware, considering it had a ridiculously high alcohol content.

The thing I can't stand about it is the taste.

I don't like licorice. And each sip of absinthe is like an intense explosion of licorice in your mouth.

I've had absinthe a few times since college, but I'm not its biggest fan.

Any absinthe stories you'd care to share?

(Photo by Getty Images) 

Follow Midnight Sun on Facebook and Twitter @midnightsunblog
Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:27 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Random stuff


I ordered several different bottles of Absinthe from Germany a few years ago to check it out. I also purchased the sugar lumps, the special perforated spoons and matches to do the whole absinthe ritual. I can see why folks get addicted to this stuff--not only because of the high alcohol content and the almost hallucinatory aspects of the thujones in it, but due to the ritual of making a glass of it, which is as involved as a Japanese Tea ceremony..and the wonderful green fairy color the absinthe becomes. It does give you a more aware form of 'drunk', similar to really good 100 percent blue agave tequila.
The absinthe you can obtain now does not have the level of alcohol however that it did in 1890, it's high but it was closer to grain alcohol back then.

It's a nice change of pace once in a while, but it's not the sort of thing I drink all the time. I have a bottle of Verte de Fougerolles that I break out every so often.

I can't say that the effects were any difference from drinking any other 144 proof liquor. Tasty, though.

Check it out:

A couple years back, the girl I was dating at the time went to study abroad in Hungary. Apparently that's "the only" place to get the real stuff, according to her. So for my birthday she sent me a bottle.

My thoughts on absinthe are as follows:

1. "I felt surprisingly aware, considering it had a ridiculously high alcohol content."

That's true. I know this because I was able to light it on fire. In retrospect, not the smartest idea, but cool nonetheless. I think it said something along the lines of 170 proof, which I didnt think was even possible at that time. I might as well have been drinking distilled magic.

2. I [kid] you not, I could see my words when I spoke. This only happened once though. Other times I just got drunk. Reeeeeally drunk.

3. It's a pain in the ass to make. I bought sugar cubes and tried to look like I was too cool for the coffee shop, but ended up fusing a sugar cube to one my forks, because I lit that on fire as well. Seriously, mix it with some Sprite. It makes the awful taste of licorice a bit more bearable.

4. You should always sip Absinthe. No matter what. I repeat, this is a sipping drink. If you've got the high end stuff with a decent amount of wormwood, and thujone, it won't affect you quicker if you pound it. Or if you make "Absinthe Bombs". A buddy of mine did that. He was jealous that I was the first kid on the block with a bottle, and ordered his own for $200. After mixing a booze with 100+ proof rating, and Redbull, all he got was drawn all over an hour later when he passed out.

Do yourself a favor and don't drink the Czech stuff.

OK. a few things here. After living in Prague for five years and having both real and fake Absinthe, I found that the real stuff is like Pastis (which is actaully Absinthe w/o the wormwood root extract) and does not get you too drunk. the fake stuff on the other hand will get you polluted! seriously.
also, and I'm only going to say this once;
"LIGHTIING IT ON FIRE IS NOT PART OF THE DRINKING TRADITION." that's something started by stupid frat -boy American sandal wearing tourists in Prague. And, yes I know, it was in the Hughes Bros' film From Hell, but that's becuz it was filmed there.
The way to drink Absinthe is to get a sugar cube, a flat spoon with holes in it and a carafe of water. Pour the water over the sugar into the glass. The water and sugar should turn the 'sinthe a pale creamy jade color (if it's real). Stir. End of "ritual"
You do not freebase the friggin sugar b-4 you drink it.

I once got in a scrap with the police in Prague for freebasing cookie dough.

If this stuff isn't going to make me see through time or hallucinate people in dolphin suits (moreso than I already do...), I don't see the point.

I'll stick to good old Mickey's thank you very much. If I want to hallucinate when I drink I can do it for a ton less with bum wine. For excellent reviews, is the place to go.

Read this:

"Century was nice, it was the first Absinthe I had experienced.

I drank about 4 shots worth the first time and just remember sitting there and my wife just laughed and asked if I was alright. She said she asked that because I had a constant smile on my face. (Honestly wasn’t aware at the time till I stood up and looked in the mirror.)
Overall a strong sense of well being and clarity.. The best part was that the next morning I woke up 10 mins before the alarm went off and literally hopped out of bed. I felt outstanding.. It was the exact opposite of a hangover"

LOL I tried it as well.

It has 100mg thujone. and believe what you like matters. I tried loads of different absinthe and this is the nearest you will get to green fairy juice.

I should clarify that the only reason I lit mine on fire was because I couldn't read Czchek, and wanted to see how strong of a proof it was.

To be fair, I also lit multiple other boozes on fire as well.

Hemingway has a bunch of his characters drinking it. I like Hemingway, but I think absinthe tastes like poop.

Ahhh...Absinthe....I was in Rome with my dad on a business trip, and I came across a bottle of Absinthe. I had heard good things about it so I bought it. Not being able to enjoy the night life, (I'm a 22 female and my dad is pretty protective) so I decided I would take a few little nips after dinner. I forgot to hide the bottle when I went to shower, and my dad found it. He thought it was vodka so he made a drink... hee hee... Good thing he was a hippie in the 60's because he was along for the ride now. When I came out of the shower I saw what he was doing, and told him what he was drinking. He was cool with it, or maybe he was already feeling good, but we ended up going out to the bars after that. I think that was the most bonding I have done with him in my life. Absinthe, it's a good thing...

hey Sandy, Wanna go out for a drink sometime?

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Please enter the letter "w" in the field below:
About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

Most Recent Comments
Recent tweets
Sign up for FREE nightlife alerts*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for nightlife text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Weekend Watch newsletter
Plan your weekend with's best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV picks and more delivered to you every Thursday for free.
See a sample | Sign up

Photo galleries
Stay connected