A favorite elixir of artists, writers and other creative types, absinthe has a long and storied history. Invented in the Val-de-Travers region of Switzerland, on the border with France, in the 19th-century, absinthe quickly gained popularity with the literati for its supposed creativity enhancing abilities. These same traits also led the “green fairy” as it commonly referred to it being outlawed across much of the world for some 95-years.
That ban was repealed on March 5, 2007, and now this date is celebrated across the country as National Absinthe Day. In honor of the legendary alcoholic beverage that Vincent van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Ernest Hemingway and others touted as being helpful in expressing themselves creatively, we explore 4 favorite brands to taste that can be purchased in the U.S.
Unlike other liquors, not all absinthe sold in the U.S. is genuine. This happens because absinthe has yet to be legally defined, meaning a distiller can technically bottle anything and call it absinthe. But if you want to be sure your tipple is as close to the authentic product, read the label carefully. True absinthe will always contain grande wormwood (the herb that got it banned in the first place) and should never contain sugar or any kind of food coloring.
1. Lucid Absinthe
Made using the traditional French methods, was the first of its kind to be sold in the U.S. after the 2007 repeal of the ban. Lucid is distilled at the Combier Distillery in France’s Loire Valley in a space designed by Gustav Eiffel. The still room and copper alembic pot stills here have been making absinthe for more than 100 years. Lucid is created with only authentic ingredients, like real Grande Wormwood and other European herbs.
2. Absinthia Organic Absinthe
Like wine, different labels of absinthe have different tastes. We like, but first off let’s talk about taste. This absinthe is elegantly simple and well balanced. Created in California by a completely women owned business, this easy to drink absinthe is certified organic and uses an original Swiss recipe.
3. Mt Defiance Distillery
Another American distiller, in Middleburg, Virginia, makes a delightful bottle of absinthe that is both uniquely American and traditionally French. The taste comes from the herbs selected, and in this case these included Virginia-sourced hyssop and lemon balm that give the liquor its distinct taste. Along with grand wormwood (absinthe’s always signature ingredient) this brand includes fennel doux from France’s Provence region and aniseed from Andalusia in Spain in its recipe.
4. Pacific Distillery
Another absinthe to look for is Pacifique Absinthe from the small, family owned in Woodinville, Washington. It is crafted in traditional French-Swiss style using an 1855 French recipe and with historic distilling methods like the use of a copper alembic pot still. The flavor comes from hand-selected herbs that come from around the world.