National absinthe day
March 5th, 2013
09:00 AM ET
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While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.

Just a spoonful of sugar helps the "medicine" go down - March 5 is National Absinthe Day!

Let’s play a little word association: What do you think of when you hear the word "absinthe"? I think about a tiny Czech bar I once visited and a ball of fire - but mostly I think of Van Gogh, Degas or Toulouse-Lautrec.

Until the 20th century, absinthe flowed freely at bars and drinking halls in Europe and America. The spirit was known to be high in alcohol content and the presence of thujone, a chemical compound believed to be responsible for absinthe’s psychedelic effects, was an additional lure. Government agencies took note of the drink’s popularity and promptly banned it, notably in the United States in 1912, then in France in 1915.

Governments were worried that drinking absinthe would create a generation of reckless drunkards, and they might have been right were it not for one small fact - there’s not enough thujone in most absinthes to cause its alleged mind-altering properties, including the storied "green fairy." In fact, those people were most likely just hammered.

"I always tell people, if you drink a large amount of any kind of overproof alcohol, you are likely to freak out a little bit - I guarantee you it doesn't have to be absinthe," Maxwell Britten, head bartender of Maison Premiere, said in his Eatocracy column about the misunderstandings and misgivings about absinthe.

Absinthe is a neutral spirit infused with a variety of botanicals, including fennel, green anise and wormwood. It’s these botanicals that give the drink its distinctive licorice taste.

While absinthe isn’t banned in the U.S. anymore, it’s not as regulated as one might think. Because there’s no legal definition of absinthe, the green bottle you buy from your local liquor store might not be absinthe at all. Be careful when selecting one, and do your homework before just buying any brand. There are a few brands that are well respected and known for their high quality absinthe. St. George’s is one of them, and they were the first to make absinthe after the ban was lifted in the U.S. in 2007.

Once you’ve chosen your absinthe, there are two ways you can drink it. Hardly anyone does a straight shot of absinthe – its high ABV rate means it burns...A LOT.

Traditionally, an absinthe spoon with a sugar cube is placed over a glass of absinthe. Cold water is then slowly poured over the sugar cube until it dissolves. The absinthe becomes cloudy and is ready to drink.

The Bohemian method is a bit different. The sugar cube is soaked in absinthe, set alight and dropped into the shot glass. Then, cold water is poured over the slotted spoon to douse the flames. This results in a stronger drink that’s more intense than the traditional version.

Absinthe might not be everyone’s go-to beverage, but when done right, the spirit has a clean, crisp, anise-flavored taste.

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Filed under: Breakfast Buffet • Food Holidays • News

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Shakers Cigar Bar

    Shakers Cigar Bar, in Milwaukee as the largest on-premise outlet for Absinthe in the Midwest, Proudly celebrates Absinthe in all her forms. Cheers to the Green Fairy.

    March 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  2. MJS

    Sazerac cocktail – just a tiny bit of absinthe to rinse the glass, but the perfect vehicle for tasting it.

    March 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  3. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Was just about to watch a documentary about this stuff.

    March 5, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      What part of that needed to be moderated? Talk to your boss, Kat. We've lost people over this.

      March 5, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
      • Truth™@JDizz

        The third, fourth and fifth letters of the subject of the sentence...

        March 5, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
        • ™©JbJiNg!eŚ®™

          You would think that the computer could actually detect letters before and after said third, fourth, and fifth letters... So many culinary terms that are kicked out too. When posts are moderated/deleted, it does tend to turn people away from an otherwise awesome place that Eatocracy has become.

          March 5, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
        • Kat Kinsman

          In our defense, we do check out the mod queue multiple times a day unless we're traveling!

          March 5, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
        • ™©JbJiNg!eŚ®™@Kat

          I know you do and this is not directed towards you at all, it is the software that is lame. Certainly CNN can pony up for a better program to check for words, that will not prohibit such words as "apetyte", "spyce", "cukumber", etc.

          March 5, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
        • ™©JbJiNg!eŚ®™@Kat

          LOL being moderated on response. Oh well.

          March 5, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
        • Kat Kinsman

          You did see the quickness with which I scooped it out, though, yah?

          New solution is in the works. I just beg patience.

          March 5, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
        • ™©JbJiNg!eŚ®™@Kat

          Yes, thank you Kat! You're the best, but really you shouldn't have to do this...just sayin' It would be nice to be able to post about food and food related topics without being mod botzed.

          March 5, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
      • RichardHead

        And, Jeff Zucker is still a PUTZ !!

        March 5, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • mgcady

      What's the name of the documentary?

      March 5, 2014 at 12:40 pm |
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