Have you ever tried absinthe? Prior to Monday’s Art of Absinthe event with La Clandestine Swiss Absinthe at ArtBar in Cambridge, I may have had it a few times in cocktails, definitely when we were in Prague, but never sipped it on its own. Like many people, when I heard absinthe, I thought of The Green Fairy and the supposed hallucinogenic properties of the spirit. I instantly equated that to absinthe’s illegal status but soon learned that some of the mystique around absinthe is pure misinformation.
Over the course of a couple of hours, I got to see some of my favorite Boston bloggers, learned a ton about absinthe, and enjoyed some tasty bites from ArtBar’s new menu. (Speaking of the menu, I really just want to eat the macaroni and cheese eggs rolls all day, every day. Extra truffle fondue, please.)
First up, I had to get a cocktail to see what La Clandestine was all about.
ArtBar’s head bartender, Elizabeth Powell, whipped up a Clandestino for me. Based on the Caipirinha, the Clandestino contains La Clandestine absinthe instead of cachacha. The absinthe is mixed with demerara sugar, lime, and lots of crushed ice.
I won’t lie. On my first sip, I made a face. The wormwood in absinthe gives it an herbal, licorice flavor that was at first a little surprising. A couple of sips later, I got into the refreshing qualities of the drink, and the licorice flavor definitely mellowed. Overall, I ended up enjoying the cocktail.
In addition to the Clandestino, Elizabeth had made a punch containing absinthe and was also making a drink called East Meets West. Of course, the absinthe drip, which we learned about later, was also available.
Before presenting to the group, Alan Moss, Global Brand Ambassador for La Clandestine, greeted our little blogger group. We soon learned he is a blogger himself and writes The Real Absinthe Blog.
Alan started with 10 Things you didn’t know about absinthe, and pretty much all of the items on the list were news to me! Absinthe originated in Switzerland (For some reason I thought it was from Eastern Europe as it is popular in Prague.) Over the history of absinthe production, women have been key players, preserving the tradition and passing recipes down from mother to daughter.
Absinthe experienced bans and booms over the years, but the Swiss ignored the bans which has resulted in absinthe being continuously produced in Switzerland for 220 years. Funny enough, one of the bans was not due to hallucination but to the alcohol binge of a Swiss laborer who then killed his family. Absinthe made for two of the drinks he had that night, two of the 17 drinks, that is!
And what about The Green Fairy, you ask? Here’s what Alan’s blog/presentation has to say:
Absinthe will not help you see green fairies, and is no more likely to cause any effects
than any other strong spirit. While there is a naturally occurring substance in absinthe called thujone and while this can have “effects,” you’d have to drink so many bottles of absinthe to get them, you’d die of alcohol poisoning long beforehand.
Once the presentation was finished, Alan demonstrated a traditional way of drinking absinthe. Absinthe starts clear, and water slowly drips through the metal fountain, mixing with the essential oils and making it cloudy. One of the highlights of the evening was trying Butterfly Absinthe which originated in Boston in the early 1900’s. It’s made in Switzerland now and not yet available in the US. I loved how smooth and refreshing this absinthe was due to the use of mint and citrus in this recipe. It also had a creaminess to it making it easy to sip with just a bit of water.
As always, ArtBar kept us well fed. Sliders, tacos, and of course those mac and cheese egg rolls filled us up as we drank and mingled.
I had a great time and learned a lot at the Art of Absinthe event. ArtBar and the Royal Sonesta is doing a really great job with their food and beverage, and they have some great events. I can’t wait to return to celebrate some of my favorite blogger bachelorettes over Memorial Day weekend!
If you’ve tried absinthe, what did you think? How did you drink it?