Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mad About Absinthe?

Eric Asimov, Pete Wells and Florence Fabricant of the New York Times taste tested 20 absinthes for a really good article in today's Dining & Wine section.

"Few things demystify absinthe more than the daunting prospect of 20 glasses in front of you," Asimov writes. The brands and styles ranged in color "from pale celadon and shimmering aquamarine to extra virgin olive oil to dizzyingly garish shades that don’t exist in nature outside of South Beach nightclubs. But one absinthe was turquoise, which is near enough to green, I suppose. Another was mouthwash blue. A few were completely clear."

Without dwelling on the whole "absinthe makes you nuts" thing, the article offers up lots of solid info along with great tips for serving--"forget the sugar, remember the water"--and pairing. Asimov also treats readers to some classic quotes, such as this beauty from Oscar Wilde:

“After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were.  After the second you see things as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.”

The panel found most of the brands tasted to be "unexpectedly good." Their favorite was the Swiss-made Kübler, which turned a brilliant white in the glass. "It offered rich, warm anise and herbal flavors that were deliciously subtle rather than greatly complex," Asimov writes.  
The next three picks were all French: Grande Absente, Pernod and Émile Pernot Vieux Pontarlier ("all were beautifully integrated, with balanced flavors centering on anise, licorice and fennel, augmented by herbs and citrus..."), followed by St. George (made in the U.S.) and Jade Nouvelle-Orléans (France). Herewith, the panel's top ten:
1. Kubler
2. Grande
3. Pernod
4. Emile Pernot
5. St. George
6. Jade Nouvelle-Orleans
7. Obsello
8. La Clandestine
9. Lucid
10. Mansinthe
You can read the whole article by clicking here.
Photo courtesy of the New York Times.

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