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Old 03-10-2006, 04:06 PM   #1
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Default Truth and Myth: absinthe

I watched an episode of The Thirsty Traveller last night that was all about absinthe. It was very interesting (much more so than the episode I watched about Alaskan Beers, which are pretty much just beers that fall in the upper imperial range of strength).

When I saw that the episode was about absinthe, I thought, "Jesus... he'a actually going to DRINK that stuff! I thought it was pretty dangerous!"

Anyway, the legendary psychoactive properties of this drink are just that... legend. Myth. Total BS. Anyone who claims to have gone on a 'trip' from drinking this stuff is full of crap, and they were just drunk and fell victim to the power of suggestion.

The process for making absinthe is to take a high proof alcohol (about 140 proof spirits distilled from wine, traditionally), steep a bunch of herbs and spices in it (anise, fennel, the infamous wormwood plant, and other stuff), then distill this to get the actual liquor. After this, some more herbs are (optionally) thrown in to give it a slight green color, and it is bottled up.

You drink it by pouring some into a glass, and then running ice cold water over a sugar cube (absinthe is very bitter and licorice tasting) until the solution "loushes" (sp?) and turns cloudy. Then you drink it.

The special intoxicating properties are said to come from a chemical called "thujone" that exists in the wormwood plant, and is said to be very similar to the active chemical in marijuana.

Well.... there is a chemist from New Orleans that is works in france (where absinthe is legal) and focuses on making absinthe the traditional ways. He obtained some 100 year old bottles of unopened absinthe, which he analyzed and reverse-engineered the recipes for.

According to his analysis of the 100 year old liquors and analysis of what happens when he makes the stuff in his shop, the thujone NEVER gets extracted from the wormwood! It stays in the kettle with all the fennel, anise, and other herbs/spices and the actual liquor produced is completely free of the chemical.

In short, absinthe is just a bitter, licorice tasting, high-proof spirit. Nothing special or dangerous about it.

This concludes today's lesson.

-walker

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Old 03-10-2006, 04:33 PM   #2
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I watched that exact show as well. I have a season pass set up on my Tivo and am now addicted to it.

However, I don't know how much I trust that guy. I think he might have a bias in favor of absinthe and has an interest in promoting the notion that it doesn't have any additional intoxicants in it.

That being said, it made sense to me. It's like giving a high school kid N/A beer and watching them act drunk.

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Old 03-10-2006, 04:46 PM   #3
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That stuff is leagal in Canada now. I've never treid it and really have no interest to. I guess it's all the rage in the UK clubbing circles where they drink it with Red Bull.
Blech.

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Old 03-10-2006, 05:41 PM   #4
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truth: asinthe is the worst tasting liquor ive ever had

We drank it differently though. One of my buddies brought a bottle back from Austria and said that this is how they drank it over there: spoonful of sugar, drizzle a drop or two of absinthe on it. light it on fire untill the sugar is melted and flame goes out, quickly stir the sugar into a shot of absinthe, enjoy. i could do all but the step that says enjoy. There is a lot of hype surrounding this stuff but it is truely a let down.

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Old 03-10-2006, 05:49 PM   #5
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Old 03-10-2006, 05:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowain
However, I don't know how much I trust that guy. I think he might have a bias in favor of absinthe and has an interest in promoting the notion that it doesn't have any additional intoxicants in it.
The thing that made me watch the episode (I usually skip anything not about beer) was the fact that my wife had once drank absinthe at some hokey Equinox Wiccan thingamajig and said that it didn't do a darn thing to her except give her a little buzz. She also said that the people touting it as a great hallucinogen were also consuming various other substances at the same time as the absinthe (lds, mushrooms, pot, etc, etc), so how the heck would they know if the absinthe itself did anything?

Anyway, in the researcher's defense, absinthe is starting to be legalized all over Europe, so I'm inclined to believe that recent research has shown that it's just a liquor and it's thus becoming more accepted and decriminalized.

Anyway... I guess you can take everything with a grain of salt.

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Old 03-10-2006, 06:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walker
Anyway... I guess you can take everything with a grain of salt.
Don't confuse the issue walker, that's supposed to be with tequila!
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Old 03-10-2006, 06:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walker
people touting it as a great hallucinogen were also consuming various other substances at the same time as the absinthe (lds, mushrooms, pot, etc, etc)
People consume mormons with their absinthe?
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Old 03-10-2006, 09:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Pistolero
People consume mormons with their absinthe?
I hear tht the lds are quite good when thy are fresh.
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Old 03-10-2006, 09:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AHammer16
I hear tht the lds are quite good when thy are fresh.
Dude--who is your avatar?
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