Barnaby Conrad III notes in his book Absinthe: History in a Bottle that in 1907, the French National League Against Alcoholism gathered 400,000 signatures on a petition declaring absinthe “makes a ferocious beast of man, a martyr of woman, and a degenerate of the infant, it disorganizes and ruins the family and menaces the future of the country.”
Now, if you haven’t renewed your subscription to Absinthe Quarterly since 2007, you might be surprised to learn that “The Green Fairy” has been legalized in the United States for almost 10 years. Better yet, Joel Bierling of Bier Distillery in Comstock Park has been slinging the stuff since last August, only the second distillery in Michigan to offer the liqueur.
Absinthe’s notorious reputation as a hallucinogen mostly comes from the compound thujone, found in wormwood, an essential ingredient to absinthe. It doesn’t take much thujone in the human body to cause delirium or worse, but Bierling assured us that the majority of the compound is burned off in the distillation process; in fact, you’d suffer fatal alcohol poisoning long before any serious amount of thujone could affect you.
And with that PSA out of the way, Bierling’s absinthe verte: easily the most simple of drinks we’ve featured in the last few months, but possibly the most visually interesting.
A great absinthe fountain arrives at your table, with ice and water dumped into the top. The absinthe itself, pooled at the bottom of a glass (a Pontarlier, for the curious), then collects a few ounces of cool water — a drop at a time — filtered through a sugar cube atop an absinthe spoon, where the drink transforms from its clear emerald color to a pale, opalescent chartreuse. The anise and fennel makes the experience taste like black licorice, for you Dutch folk out there.
3/4 oz. Henry’s Absent Absinthe Verte
3 1/2 oz. cold water
1 sugar cube
At Bier Distillery, the “experience” requires an absinthe fountain — which you can view in action online at revuewm.com before heading to the distillery. At home, however, Joel Bierling admits that an analog experience can be had with a simple syrup of your choice and cold water. Just pour absinthe into a glass, then add cold water, your sugar solution and stir. But we recommend the full monty at Bier Distillery.
Bier Distillery is located at 5295 West River Drive in Comstock Park, bierdistillery.com
Watch the video tutorial below: