18 February 2007

Absinthe uncorked, clowns lobotomized by fire

The Absinthe in question comes from Switzerland and bears the label design of Current 93's David Tibet. Absinthe Duplais was a Gold Medal winner at the 2006 International Wine and Spirit Competition, the only absinthe to be honored thusly... It's also the first verte absinthe to be manufactured in Switzerland since the European ban was lifted in 2005.

The occasion? Simply put, my (music) studio is finally unpacked. There's been a nasty creative block happening since 2000, and I haven't recorded a minute of material since then. Or was it some distraction? Career took over, a series of unemployment episodes, stress, grownup freakouts, etc... There has always been an excuse to keep the muse in a cage.

But now it's time to blow the locks off the cage doors and give that "muse" thing a blast of vitamin-packed attention. It seemed worthy of a ritual, to mark the occasion. So a bottle of Absinthe Duplais was secured, with a set of proper absinthe reservoir glasses, and a slotted spoon. The preparation of absinthe is certainly a ritual; there's no rushing it.

Adding to the exotic nature of absinthe is the drink's nebulous legal status in the United States. It is legal to possess here but not to sell it, due to the FDA's ruling on the thujon-laden wormwood ingredient which allegedly gives the drink a slightly psychedelic edge.

The "holy trinity" of anise, fennel, and wormwood give the liquid its signature aroma, flavor, and unique form of intoxication. Absinthe has a fascinating history, and much of its popular use in victorian times seems to be tied to the arts, particularly poets and painters. It was said to awaken the creative areas of the brain... or at least, it broke down the inhibition of ideas and helped to liberate the muse, in whatever form she took. So let's get down to it, toast the new studio and potentially make a little noise, finally.

Ingredients: Absinthe Duplais, sugarcube, reservoir glass, slotted spoon, and a bit of subdued light from three tiny clown-shaped candles. What the hell.

Once the absinthe was uncorked, the table was wrapped in a subtle aroma, pregnant with expectation: a dark, musky leather of herbs, but subdued. There's power in there, alright.

The louche effect: Once ice-water is dripped on the sugarcube, taking dissolved bits through the spoon and into the absinthe, the anise breaks down and a beautiful reaction takes place. The crystalline woody-emerald color becomes an opalescent cataract green.

This dance of particles in the glass is the payoff for the time spent...this is a slow process and must be done with patience. A fragile inscense of anise and fennel rises from the glass. Something is alive in there, I swear it.

The clowns continue to burn while the absinthe louches its milky pleasures in the dark. They look like terrified Christmas carolers at the doorstep of a pagan temple...

And this was their condition by the time the absinthe was ready to drink. They continued to look cheerful despite their magnificent head trauma. The absinthe itself was an intricate critter: the anise was prominent but there was a balanced herbal universe in there as well...a pleasant numbing of the lips and tongue, and the choir of flavors became more complex as the glass was slowly emptied.

By now, the action had shifted to the studio and a bit of sonic noodling took place. Who knows if anything will come of it, but the idea is to do the thing. The ice is broken now, the muse is free to wander and plant her seed where it might bloom the weirdest.


Alan said...

Nice blog, nice pictures!

Enjoy your absinthe travels and look me up if you need any more information on this great subject.

epota said...

What I'm most curious about is just how long this process took (just how fast do clown candles melt down?) and -- most important -- what was the verdict on the first round of noodling?

Jay said...

Now that you've had a few days to ferment... what hath though wrought in thy musical dungeon?

Good pics, too, btw. An eloquent statement to and eloquent drink... (and, I'm not even sure if I spelled eloquent korectlee).

Alan@RealAbsintheBlog said...

Thanks for your comments! It will be some way before this magazine idea gets anywhere, but check back once in a while for any updates.

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