23 November 2022

The Least Thanksgiving Spirit


Pale green

I am referring, of course, to Absinthe.

I decided to buy some for this for Thanksgiving, because of its association with angst ridden artists like Vincent Van Gough, Paul Verlaine, Edouard Manet, Charles Baudelaire, Ernest Hemingway, Paul Gaugan, Guy de Maupassant, Émile Zola, and Oscar Wilde.

Of course, Thanksgiving is not about angst ridden art, it's about getting together with family, and desperately trying not to punch out that racist relative of yours at dinner.

Absinthe is made from wormwood, anise, and (for Lucid brand absinthe) fennel and hyssop.

It's similar to other anise based drinks like Ouzo and Arak having a licorice forward flavor, though the bouquet and the undertones are rather different.

Also like other anise based drinks when water is added, the essential oils come out of solution, and create a cloudy colloidal suspension called the Louche.

Of course, I am not an angst ridden artist, I'm a generally happy ignorant asshole, and an engineer.

That being said, my eldest is a playwright and a poet, so I kind of figured that she had to drink Absinthe at least once, since it got legalized in the United States 2007.

It's nice, but I do not understand its association with depression and moral dissipation and turpitude.

This is the sort of drink that is nice to sip while having a spirited discussion about the aesthetics of Akira Kurasawa movies, not one that leaves you lolling in the gutter.

(later edit)

Dammit.  How could I post about Absinthe and not use the word ennui?


Quasit said...

When I was younger I remember reading that absinthe caused brain damage in even small amounts. I presume that's not the case?

Matthew Saroff said...

This is not the case.

There is a psychoactive substance in wormwood called Thujone, and it does have toxic properties at higher doses, but current concentrations, 10mg/kg in the US and 35 mg/kg in the EU, mean that you would kill yourself with alcohol first before showing any effects from the Thujone.

Also, in samples taken from pre ban antique bottles, the Thujone levels were shown to be at similarly low levels.

If you were to drink wormwood oil straight, you could suffer muscular, neurological, and renal issues though.

That being said, in the 1800s and early 1900s, there was a lot of VERY low quality Absinthe that was colored green with copper salts, which are highly toxic, and completely illegal today.

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