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Alcohol Alcohol, including absinthe, hard liquor, beer, wine, and other assorted spirits.

 
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  #1  
Old 19-10-2011, 22:54
rawbeer rawbeer is offline
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Is modern Absinthe like modern Coca Cola? Is something missing?

What effects absinthe may have has been discussed ad nauseum in all sorts of places, this forum included. Some claim it’s just alcohol, others differ. For quite a while I was convinced it was just alcohol but a recent test of some home-made absinthe changed my mind completely. An experience report and recipe is listed in this thread:

http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/sho...sinthe+effects

This experience prompted me to write this. I tasted a second batch made according to the same recipe and it had the same effects, and so I decided I needed to share my feelings.

After years of researching and sampling absinthe, ranging from low-quality to high-quality commercial products from France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic and the USA, to bootleg Swiss La Blue to bootleg homemade I have become frustrated with the persistent misinformation that seems to surround this drink. I was determined to learn the truth for myself from the get-go and the constant barrage of lies has been a mounting annoyance for a solid decade now. These lies come either from misinformed individuals with only a passing interest in absinthe or marketers determined to sell their product as “the real thing”.

I will not discuss the myths of “absinthism” and hallucinations, nor the lies and low-quality products pushed by the Czech marketers. These have been discussed at length elsewhere. What I wish to discuss is the respectable modern absinthe revival, as represented by the high-end (and certainly, from a standpoint of taste and production, very high-quality) absinthes currently being produced in the USA and the EU. Ted Breaux is the spearhead of this counter-revival (counter to the Czech revival). His spirits are tasty and well-made. But as I believe I can show here, by quoting a study he often cites and was indeed involved in, they are not historically accurate reproductions of pre-ban absinthe.

It was considered common knowledge in the heyday of absinthe that the drink produced effects unlike those of typical spirits – a vast body of writing produced in the 19th and early 20th century attests to this, some praising its effects and some condemning them. Was this unusual effect just a common and vast delusion of the era, or is the modern absinthe revival selling make-believe absinthe? I believe the latter to be true, and I believe the proof is in the writing, the art, the science, and finally and most convincingly, in the glass.

The article I am citing below has become the definitive text of the Absinthe Revivalists who claim that absinthe has little if any non-alcoholic effects, and that whatever said effects may be, thujone has nothing to do with them. I refer to it many times:

http://www.thujone.info/thujone-absinthe-39.html
Chemical Composition of Vintage Preban Absinthe with Special Reference to
Thujone, Fenchone, Pinocamphone, Methanol, Copper, and Antimony
Concentrations
by Dirk W. Lachenmeier, David Nathan-Maister, Theodore A. Breaux, Eva-Maria Sohnius,
Kerstin Schoeberl, and Thomas Kuballa
Published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, April 2008

On the other side of the argument is Dale Pendell’s Pharmako/Poeia, especially the 2010 revised edition which contains an additional two pages on absinthe, on which Pendell sticks to his guns, claiming that high-thujone absinthe is at least partly responsible for the art and poetry of the Belle Epoque.

A friend of mine set out to produce a bottle of absinthe according to Pendell’s recipe, which Pendell estimates to contain around 45 mg/L of thujone. This was months in the waiting as he watched his wormwood grow, and researched absinthe. He started to get a sinking feeling that after months of growing wormwood, learning to run a still, etc. he would be left with little but a tasty anise drink (and the added benefit of knowing how to distill stuff.)

When the absinthe was finally ready, he drank a glass and found himself laughing hysterically at what an obvious effect it had. It wasn’t the alcohol; he drinks a lot and he knows that poison quite well. It was something completely different. He was forced to consider the possibility that the scientific consensus on thujone was wrong, because the only “controlled substance” his absinthe possessed that the many types of commercially produced absinthe he tried lacked was thujone. (Presumably; he has not analyzed his absinthe for thujone but as it contains quality wormwood, he assumes it must.)


The standard line of the absinthe revival is that vintage, pre-ban absinthe contained little thujone and would have fallen into the standards of acceptability according to modern EU and FDA standards. But a look at the study, mentioned above, that this assertion is based on clearly contradicts this; only 5 of the 13 bottles would qualify. The median concentration of 33.3 mg/L would only be acceptable for an EU “bitters”. Only 2 of the 8 tested absinthes with high thujone concentrations fall below the 35 mg/L designation for bitters. 6 of the 13 contain 37 mg/L or more.

The thujone content variations are drastic; at one end we have 4.5 as the maximum “low”, jumping to 20.5, then up to 33.3. More than half (7 of 13) are 33.3 and above. Yet the promoters of modern absinthe would suggest that these are the outliers, and that the low thujone labels were more typical.

Some bottles did show very low levels of thujone; however absinthe quality varied greatly, even within the same brands’ production lines (Pernod Fils, the classic absinthe, varied from 1.5 to 48.3), so it seems not unlikely that these outliers were simply low-quality absinthe or botched batches. (Looking at Pernod Fils alone one can see that 2 of the 6 bottles tested had drastically lower thujone levels than the other 4, all of which were over 40 mg/L and in keeping with Pendell’s mathematically predicted thujone concentrations for his own recipe. It seems not an unsafe assumption that these low-thujone Pernods represent botched batches, poor quality herbs, etc.)

The current FDA designation for absinthe requires 10 ppm thujone or less. This is unquestionably “unhistorically” low. None of the tested absinthes show levels this low, therefore ALL absinthe legally available in the USA is not “historic.”

It seems at least possible that if an absintheur of the Belle Epoque were asked to sample these 13 tested absinthes that he or she would classify the low thujone absinthes as poor quality.

The assertion that thujone “stays in the pot” during distillation is obviously not true seeing as all of the tested absinthes contained it!

It would stand to reason that the low-thujone vintage absinthes simply used low-thujone wormwood (as in low quality wormwood). Furthermore, the oldest sample tested was from 1895. As many low quality absinthes were produced once the drink had gained popularity, and the market for the drink increased, it seems again likely that quality of wormwood and availability of high quality herbs would have fluctuated. Just as modern macrobreweries resort to lower quality ingredients, modern wine producers resort to low cost techniques such as using Oak chips in place of Oak barrels to age wine, perhaps absinthe quality deteriorated towards the end of the absinthe period, to the point where 1 in 3 bottles of Pernod contained low-quality wormwood distillate.

The claim that American absinthe is authentic is demonstrably false; EU approved absinthe (>10 mg/L) is questionable in its authenticity; even EU approved bitters (>35 mg/L) would be light on thujone. And when one considers that the notion of “authentic low-thujone absinthe” is being propagated by people who are selling just that same variety of absinthe, one starts to have doubts about their motives.

Coca-Cola calls itself “the real thing” and even adds decocanized coca leaf to its drink to retain its original flavor (or at least a simulation thereof) and what is going on in the modern absinthe world seems strikingly similar. Wormwood may be a flavoring ingredient but the expression of its full spectrum of essential oil constituents is being suppressed by law and by distillers wishing to obey those laws. This is without a doubt true in the USA and probably true in the case of most EU absinthes; those with high thujone contents tend to focus on little but thujone, often completely failing to include the other “essential” ingredients of absinthe (anise and fennel) and so become un-historic in a different way.

From the article cited above, about a sample of modern absinthe that was tested:

The atypical sample A9 with 71.2 mg/L of
total thujone was most likely due to the maceration of
inadequately dried wormwood of a high-thujone chemotype and
a lack of chemical quality control by the small Swiss artisanal
distillery.

Chemical controls that were non-existent in the Belle Epoque. Such artisanal Swiss distilleries’ products are probably the closest we can get in the modern era to the pre-ban stuff because these distilleries are not limiting their thujone contents to meet modern, non-historic standards. Tell me, what is historic about chemically monitoring and limiting chemical compounds in an absinthe? Is there any evidence that this occurred in the 19th century? Again, the authors reason backwards from the assumption that low thujone absinthe is historic and “real”.

Again the reasoning is that high thujone absinthe is somehow an atypical mistake, and not the other way around. And of course both arguments can be made, however as less than half of the pre-ban absinthes are “low thujone” it seems the majority is voting on behalf of higher thujone absinthe. One would assume distillers would seek the freshest herbs possible, and that higher quality absinthe would feature such herbs. Therefore it stands to reason that higher quality absinthe would be higher in thujone.

Doubters of high-thujone absinthe always seem to quote the 260mg/L figure (Bonkovsky et al, 1992), an estimate that is surely too high. Dale Pendell, by simple arithmetic based on the highly respected herbalist James A. Duke’s analysis of wormwood essential oil composition, calculates the thujone content of his absinthe at around 45mg/L, which as we can see from pre-ban bottles is just about right for a high-thujone absinthe. So why do the authors not address these high thujone samples?

It does seem that drinking even a few glasses of absinthe with between 40-50 mg/L of thujone is not enough for the thujone to provoke a pharmacological response. The article cited above mentions a study that confirms this. I do think it seems unlikely that thujone alone is responsible for absinthe’s effects, but nonetheless absinthe with restricted quantities of thujone do not have any real discernable effects beyond those of alcohol. It seems likely that thujone is somehow interacting with other ingredients in the drink to produce its effects, or that it is in fact active at much lower doses than studies suggest. As absinthe contains a number of ketones, isomers of camphor, including thujone (see Pendell) it seems reasonable that these related chemicals synergize in some way to produce the absinthe effect, which does seem to have minor convulsant properties like camphor.

Ted Breaux is selling absinthe these days. He wants people to believe his absinthe is authentic so they’ll buy it. Pendell, on the other hand, has nothing to sell but books, and I’m sure he is aware of the fact that his audience is so limited he’ll never get rich as an author. He has nothing to gain here, except to save his reputation. He makes various mistakes in his chapter on absinthe, excusable considering it was published in 1996, and his recipe is not historic; it is an altered version of a recipe from Dick’s Formulary. However trying to perfectly recreate the absinthe of yesteryear has inherent problems; herbs vary from place to place, time to time, as does distillation equipment. Pendell’s recipe is adjusted to his taste, according to herbs available to him (and as a resident of 20th century California these are certainly different than those available in 19th century France.)

The modern absintheurs swap tasting notes. They seem to think the herbal constituents of absinthe were merely flavoring agents. But absinthe was invented as a tonic, a medicine, like so many European herbals liquors whose flavors are almost always considered somewhat hard-to-acquire tastes. I do not believe it stands to reason that absinthe was formulated with only flavor in mind – indeed the contrary may perhaps be true. Few people like it from the first taste, now or in the classic era of its drinking.

Furthermore the evidence cited by modern absinthe experts is generally pre-ban absinthe, which has been sitting in a bottle for 100 years more or less. How well this represents the product as it tasted and felt 100 years ago is simply unanswerable. Likewise recreations based on historic recipes may not take into account trade secrets and the varying quality of herbs. Ultimately what absinthe was like in the Belle Epoque is an unanswerable question. But certainly even after 100 years most of these pre-ban bottles retained thujone levels above what modern standards allow. If the authors and artists of that era are to be taken at their word we should expect absinthe to be a drink with unusual properties, and it certainly can be, but not when made in accordance to modern standards, which limit thujone.

Thujone – it has become a dirty word in the modern absinthe revival. While it is perhaps not the only key to the mystery of absinthe’s effects it is certainly a prime suspect, one which I think needs to be called in for questioning once again.

Post Quality Evaluations:
Fantastic post with a barrelfull of information
Excellent points, and I've always wondered about this subject.
For putting this issue one step closer to rest. Great work.
Fantastically in-depth post on a "contraversial" subject. Very well done!
very interesting article, Lots of good inforation in there, Nice job!
Incredible contribution with detail and information. Great just A+++ great.

Last edited by rawbeer; 31-10-2011 at 22:51. Reason: font problems
  #2  
Old 24-10-2011, 22:52
mrsolearyscow mrsolearyscow is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coke? Is something missing?

I don't have anything constructive to add, but you've certainly inspired SWIM to try making her own absinthe. (She was pretty ambivalent before, as she thought the hassle outweighed the rewards. And she wasn't too crazy on the 'put a heat source under a highly flammable liquid' part of distillation.)
  #3  
Old 25-10-2011, 01:53
rawbeer rawbeer is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coke? Is something missing?

If you have a good distillation set-up it's really very easy. Use a hot plate with an oil bath or water bath as a heat source and you reduce the risk of combustion greatly. If you make sure your still doesn't loose alcohol vapor at any point the risk basically falls to zero.

The trickiest part really is knowing when to stop collecting what's coming out of the still. If you stop too early you miss out on a lot of stuff you want, like the anethole that gives absinthe its louche. Stop too late and you get some off flavors.

Homemade absinthe made with high quality herbs and grain alcohol costs between 20-30 USD a bottle, 1/2 to 1/3 the price of commercial. If you grow your own herbs the price will drop. Next year I plan on trying an absinthe garden, although I doubt some of the herbs will perform well in my climate (which is not the Alps) but I know at least a few of them will, and the fresher, the cheaper and the better will be the product.

I do not suggest store bought wormwood, it is garbage compared to fresh dried stuff. If a good source exists, I haven't seen it. The smell and flavor are completely different.

I'm glad to see at least a few people have bothered to read this, I know it's quite long.
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Old 25-10-2011, 02:04
coolhandluke coolhandluke is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coke? Is something missing?

this article also spiked my interest. i have ran into one person who seemed like a sort of knowledgeable absinthe drinker, who said he would spend over a hundred dollars a bottle, but hell for all i know he was just a dumb ass falling for some marketing and thinking he was super cool. like wise i once saw a girl with a bottle from a store who was saying it made her trip balls, lol, i was like oh yea is that so? i know she was talking out of her ass for sure.

very interesting post rawbeer, as always, i too enjoyed it a lot.
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Old 28-10-2011, 18:41
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coke? Is something missing?

Great post!! I have been thinking about trying to make my own for awhile now.
Guess it's time to go for it!
  #6  
Old 29-10-2011, 15:39
Basoodler Basoodler is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coke? Is something missing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by coolhandluke View Post
this article also spiked my interest. i have ran into one person who seemed like a sort of knowledgeable absinthe drinker, who said he would spend over a hundred dollars a bottle, but hell for all i know he was just a dumb ass falling for some marketing and thinking he was super cool. like wise i once saw a girl with a bottle from a store who was saying it made her trip balls, lol, i was like oh yea is that so? i know she was talking out of her ass for sure.

very interesting post rawbeer, as always, i too enjoyed it a lot.
in the early 2000's my ex wife and I decided to try absinthe. Our first purchase was a bootleg swiss le blue. This bottle produced a very unique effect. From what I can remember there was color enhancement, creative thought_ and a general trippy feel off of maybe 3 cups mixed traditionally. From what I remember we both felt like we didn't need any more to drink when the effects started. Further experimentation with that bottle would lead to bieng floor locked in the bathroom with odd visual distortions (more so than getting stupid drunk). However we invested over 1000 dollars buying other bottles that never reproduced this effect. We came across one other bottle that had similar effects but one had to consume a ton. we killed the 5th between 4 ppl before the "absinthe buzz" took over and after that wore off we all felt borderline alcohol poisoned.

I always wondered if that first bottle had something dissolved into it. Maybe a tryptamine of some sort. Just given the fact that at the time I was a raging alcoholic and felt I did not need to drink more and got nice effects. Its all speculation. Also this same vendor offered a cannabis vodka at that time.

We also bought wormwood, star anise, blue anise and fennel and tried to make our own with terrible effect.

I think that there is a synergy with the herbs in the drink, but thoujone is just a part of it. because we tried bottles with 72mg in it with less effects than the 1st bottle that was 40 some percent which was lights out.

Last edited by Basoodler; 29-10-2011 at 16:00. Reason: added more info
  #7  
Old 29-10-2011, 19:27
mrsolearyscow mrsolearyscow is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coke? Is something missing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Basoodler View Post
We also bought wormwood, star anise, blue anise and fennel and tried to make our own with terrible effect.
Did you grow the wormwood, or buy it ready prepared?

SWIM is growing her own wormwood, but she's wondering how much of a difference it makes if you use wormwood that's not absolutely fresh.
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Old 29-10-2011, 20:51
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coke? Is something missing?

we got it at a mid evil style festival from an herb vendor. I am sure we went about it wrong, plus we were both drunk all the time hehe. Anyway we boiled the herbs down until we got an oily mess and put that in everclear. After a couple months we tried it.. It did turn white with water and sugar but was too hard on the stomach to drink even dilluted. We gave it a good wine-o effort
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Old 29-10-2011, 21:20
mrsolearyscow mrsolearyscow is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coke? Is something missing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Basoodler View Post
we got it at a mid evil style festival from an herb vendor. I am sure we went about it wrong, plus we were both drunk all the time hehe. Anyway we boiled the herbs down until we got an oily mess and put that in everclear. After a couple months we tried it.. It did turn white with water and sugar but was too hard on the stomach to drink even dilluted. We gave it a good wine-o effort
Ahhh. I know you're meant to distill it after maceration to improve the strength and flavour, but I've been wondering how psychoactive the herb-flavored Everclear is if you drink it prior to distillation.
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Old 29-10-2011, 22:02
Basoodler Basoodler is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coke? Is something missing?

as with most absinthe I've tried you get a suspition it is not placebo. I've only had 2 bottles that would negate the alcohol buzz. My buddy took the homemade bottle home and claimed he got something from it, but I myself just got a belly ache.

can we name the brands? Because I've seen reports of a bootleg swiss le blue around the same time.
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Old 29-10-2011, 22:42
rawbeer rawbeer is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coke? Is something missing?

Naming brands is fine here.

but I've been wondering how psychoactive the herb-flavored Everclear is if you drink it prior to distillation.

Prior to distilling the absinthe he made my friend Jim took just a tiny taste of the macerated stuff - he got some on his finger and licked it off. Whew! Awful!

I also suspect as Basoodler seems to confirm that this stuff could make you pretty sick, and it will leave a horrid taste lingering in your mouth for hours. This was why absinthe was such a magical innovation - wormwood had been used for thousands of years as a medicine but it was notoriously gross. Absinthe, via distillation, retained its "vertue", its essential oils, while removing the bitter absinthin compounds. This must have seemed quite miraculous at the time.

If you want to make a macerated absinthe you'd be better off not using wormwood (in which case it's not really absinthe, but then again if it isn't distilled it isn't absinthe either) but some other more palatable yet thujone rich herb like sage or something.

But seriously, distilling it isn't that hard, it's a cake walk compared to trying to distill liquor from a mash or wine base. Once you've done it a couple times it seems about as easy as boiling potatoes, although a bit more time consuming. But homemade absinthe is more of a pay-off than boiled potatoes.

There are some decent instructions on making distilled absinthe out there, if you look around. Websites catering to home distillers can be a good source of info. If anyone has any specific questions I may be able to answer them.

Swiss La Bleue is pretty good - I also got a bottle back in 2001. The modern legal versions like Clandestine are pretty good but don't seem to pack the wallop of the bootlegs. Nothing packs the wallop of homemade, although I've tried combining homemade with Clandestine, which I believe contains Chamomile, and the effect was nice and different from the homemade by itself.

The nice thing about making your own is you can of course alter it to your tastes and try different combos of herbs. Absinthe recipes varied a lot and all sorts of herbs got thrown into it.

As for wormwood as I said earlier store bought seems pretty lousy, although if some guy grew it, dried it and sold it at a Ren Fest, it might be good. According to Pendell wormwood loses its potency pretty fast once its dried. It's best to get it into the maceration the very day it reaches the proper level of dryness.

Freshly dried wormwood has a wonderful, bitter mint smell that store bought types never seem to have, although of course there are different variations within the species A. absinthium.

If you're going through the trouble though I say do it right - grow your own wormwood, which is one of the easiest plants I've ever grown, and distill the stuff. Distilled it will taste awesome. Macerated it will be fucking disgusting. Which would you prefer?
  #12  
Old 30-10-2011, 11:51
Nanashi Nanashi is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coke? Is something missing?

It was kind of tough to read, but i managed
If you want to edit , copy and paste this into your original article, that would be cool.
I really enjoyed this article. I myself have grown wormwood but ive never tried absinthe.
Artisma absintheium is a lovely plant, very soft, seems like it would make a good pillow Lol

Quote:
Chemical controls that were non-existent in the Belle Epoque. Such artisanal Swiss distilleries’ products are probably the closest we can get in the modern era to the pre-ban stuff because these distilleries are not limiting their thujone contents to meet modern, non-historic standards. Tell me, what is historic about chemically monitoring and limiting chemical compounds in an absinthe? Is there any evidence that this occurred in the 19th century? Again, the authors reason backwards from the assumption that low thujone absinthe is historic and “real”.

Again the reasoning is that high thujone absinthe is somehow an atypical mistake, and not the other way around. And of course both arguments can be made, however as less than half of the pre-ban absinthes are “low thujone” it seems the majority is voting on behalf of higher thujone absinthe. One would assume distillers would seek the freshest herbs possible, and that higher quality absinthe would feature such herbs. Therefore it stands to reason that higher quality absinthe would be higher in thujone.

Doubters of high-thujone absinthe always seem to quote the 260mg/L figure (Bonkovsky et al, 1992), an estimate that is surely too high. Dale Pendell, by simple arithmetic based on the highly respected herbalist James A. Duke’s analysis of wormwood essential oil composition, calculates the thujone content of his absinthe at around 45mg/L, which as we can see from pre-ban bottles is just about right for a high-thujone absinthe. So why do the authors not address these high thujone samples?

It does seem that drinking even a few glasses of absinthe with between 40-50 mg/L of thujone is not enough for the thujone to provoke a pharmacological response. The article cited above mentions a study that confirms this. I do think it seems unlikely that thujone alone is responsible for absinthe’s effects, but nonetheless absinthe with restricted quantities of thujone do not have any real discernable effects beyond those of alcohol. It seems likely that thujone is somehow interacting with other ingredients in the drink to produce its effects, or that it is in fact active at much lower doses than studies suggest. As absinthe contains a number of ketones, isomers of camphor, including thujone (see Pendell) it seems reasonable that these related chemicals synergize in some way to produce the absinthe effect, which does seem to have minor convulsant properties like camphor.

Ted Breaux is selling absinthe these days. He wants people to believe his absinthe is authentic so they’ll buy it. Pendell, on the other hand, has nothing to sell but books, and I’m sure he is aware of the fact that his audience is so limited he’ll never get rich as an author. He has nothing to gain here, except to save his reputation. He makes various mistakes in his chapter on absinthe, excusable considering it was published in 1996, and his recipe is not historic; it is an altered version of a recipe from Dick’s Formulary. However trying to perfectly recreate the absinthe of yesteryear has inherent problems; herbs vary from place to place, time to time, as does distillation equipment. Pendell’s recipe is adjusted to his taste, according to herbs available to him (and as a resident of 20th century California these are certainly different than those available in 19th century France.)

The modern absintheurs swap tasting notes. They seem to think the herbal constituents of absinthe were merely flavoring agents. But absinthe was invented as a tonic, a medicine, like so many European herbals liquors whose flavors are almost always considered somewhat hard-to-acquire tastes. I do not believe it stands to reason that absinthe was formulated with only flavor in mind – indeed the contrary may perhaps be true. Few people like it from the first taste, now or in the classic era of its drinking.

Furthermore the evidence cited by modern absinthe experts is generally pre-ban absinthe, which has been sitting in a bottle for 100 years more or less. How well this represents the product as it tasted and felt 100 years ago is simply unanswerable. Likewise recreations based on historic recipes may not take into account trade secrets and the varying quality of herbs. Ultimately what absinthe was like in the Belle Epoque is an unanswerable question. But certainly even after 100 years most of these pre-ban bottles retained thujone levels above what modern standards allow. If the authors and artists of that era are to be taken at their word we should expect absinthe to be a drink with unusual properties, and it certainly can be, but not when made in accordance to modern standards, which limit thujone.

Thujone – it has become a dirty word in the modern absinthe revival. While it is perhaps not the only key to the mystery of absinthe’s effects it is certainly a prime suspect, one which I think needs to be called in for questioning once again.
Read more: http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/sho...#ixzz1cGV1ODnD
  #13  
Old 30-10-2011, 13:53
Basoodler Basoodler is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coke? Is something missing?

I wonder why governments chose to limit thujone content during the period of absinthe madness? It seems nobody can prove that thujone alone is active in the way that could produce the effects of historic absinthe. Or even the effects that I myself have experienced from a couple bottles. Or why 8 out of the 10 thujone containing bottles I've tried just give a traditional drunk buzz.

just researching on my phone I've found vicks vapor rub has thujone in the camphor contents. It would be a possibility that t this would carry over to benzedrex inhalors, for which my mouse has gobbled down whole. My mouse never got color enhancement or creative thought from that lol. Once I get home I will dig a bit more and maybe get some info to add.. Just speculation for now.


I am very curious because of the varied effects from one absinthe to the next. There has to be a synergy between some chemicals
  #14  
Old 31-10-2011, 20:09
rawbeer rawbeer is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coca Cola? Is something missing?

Well I've tried cutting and pasting this section back into this thread many, many times, and it keeps coming back exactly the same. I don't know if maybe there's something a mod can do to help? I just can't figure out why it keeps coming up the same.

I've also changed the title a bit - I wanted to clarify that "modern Coke" meant Coca Cola. I should have thought about that when I originally posted, it's been bugging me and I just got a PM from someone else who was also confused.

Anyway I want to get that font problem solved.

Finally got it! Thanks, Yail, your suggestion worked.

Last edited by rawbeer; 31-10-2011 at 21:37. Reason: update
  #15  
Old 31-10-2011, 21:03
Yail Bloor Yail Bloor is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coca Cola? Is something missing?

Hey rawbeer, shot in the dark here, but have you tried copying your whole post from DF, pasting it into word or notepad or whaever, resizing the whole thing, copying, and pasting back onto DF?

It sounds to me like a similar issue I have when I copy and paste something thats underlined... Anyway, the above procedure seemed to work for me.

Sorry for the lack of eloquence, I'm not very tech-savvy.
  #16  
Old 09-11-2011, 22:52
rawbeer rawbeer is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coca Cola? Is something missing?

Well here's an interesting follow-up:

My friend Jim produced a pure wormwood liquor, made the same as his absinthe but with nothing but wormwood, no other ingredients but Everclear and water.

It came out of the still a pale golden color, with a musty smell that dissipated with age (this distillate was made well over a month ago but only recently drank in more than tiny sips.)

He only made about 2oz of this stuff, originally just to see what wormwood on its own tasted like distilled. The distillate is actually quite delicious - dry and spicy with a minty follow-up, if you've smelled fresh wormwood you wouldn't be too surprised with the taste. Jim and a friend sipped at this a bit and commented on the flavor. The aftertaste it leaves is pleasantly and mildly bitter, reminiscent of the aftertaste of a good hoppy ale, with similar slightly citrus/evergreen notes.

While nice and sober, I poured the remaining 1oz or so into a wine glass and prepared it as one would absinthe - by adding cold water. As expected it didn't louche, oil trails swirled around and it ended up looking sort of like a well-shaken martini, cloudy but still translucent.

It tasted better neat - mixed it was still OK but it tasted a bit thin. If I were to drink wormwood liquor in the future I would drink it less dilluted.

The effects are quite similar to absinthe, but it lacks some of the hypnotic dimension of absinthe. The pleasant muscular tension is there, as is the amplification of light, but this is somewhat more stimulating than absinthe on its own. It's VERY similar but it does seem that the other herbs add an effect, although from my perspective I'd say it's pretty subtle.

I don't feel as "stupefied" as I do with absinthe. Absinthe on its own can be almost too hypnotic - I wind up feeling sort of stupid if I have a few glasses. Combined with kratom has proven to be an AWESOME combo, it gives an energy and focus to the hypnotic stupefication. Coffee works also but obviously coffee isn't as fun as kratom!

It does seem obvious to me, however, that wormwood on its own is psychoactive in much the same way as absinthe. I would say it is the primary force behind absinthe's effects from my current perspective. This feels very, very similar to absinthe (it actually feels a lot like the time I drank some Swiss Clandestine in combination with the homemade).

Maybe thujone has been incorrectly singled out, and there's some other essential oil here playing a role, or some synergy of oils in the wormwood itself. Whatever it is, certainly the other herbs in absinthe are playing supporting roles and wormwood is the pharmacological star, at least in these home made varieties I've been sampling.

But I can say with full confidence that an "absinthe" that contains nothing but wormwood (I know, it's not really absinthe that way) is active. A good comparison would be cannabis vs. hash - cannabis and hash made from the same stock will be different, but the real essence of the high will still be very similar, despite the subtle elaborations added by the whole flower being smoked as opposed to the purified resin. Wormwood liquor being like hash here, absinthe being like cannabis but again I must emphasize I do not mean to compare the effects of absinthe to cannabis, this is simply a metaphor.
  #17  
Old 10-09-2012, 00:38
WarmCoCo WarmCoCo is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coca Cola? Is something missing?

"When the absinthe was finally ready, he drank a glass and found himself laughing hysterically at what an obvious effect it had. It wasn’t the alcohol; he drinks a lot and he knows that poison quite well. It was something completely different. He was forced to consider the possibility that the scientific consensus on thujone was wrong, because the only “controlled substance” his absinthe possessed that the many types of commercially produced absinthe he tried lacked was thujone."

excuse, but because some dude drinks some 3shots and laughs, how does it make it scientific or how does it prove that absinthe is different from say Bacardi 151?

Swim laughs hysterically on any alcohol, so what?

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  #18  
Old 10-09-2012, 01:07
Yail Bloor Yail Bloor is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coca Cola? Is something missing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WarmCoCo View Post
"When the absinthe was finally ready, he drank a glass and found himself laughing hysterically at what an obvious effect it had. It wasn’t the alcohol; he drinks a lot and he knows that poison quite well. It was something completely different. He was forced to consider the possibility that the scientific consensus on thujone was wrong, because the only “controlled substance” his absinthe possessed that the many types of commercially produced absinthe he tried lacked was thujone."

excuse, but because some dude drinks some 3shots and laughs, how does it make it scientific or how does it prove that absinthe is different from say Bacardi 151?

Swim laughs hysterically on any alcohol, so what?
Sorry to step on your toes rawbeer, but I wasnt about to let this one go.

As a fellow absinthe pioneer, I feel the need to defend the validity of rawbeer's post. Properly maceraterd and distilled absinthe possesses, absolutely, without a doubt, qualities beyond that of just alcohol. Anyone well and truely versed in the consumption of alcohol would easily be able to identify effects seperate from the alcohol itslef. Furthermore, rawbeer said that he laughed hysterically at the obviousness of the effects, not that the effects -or therefore the thujone- caused the laughter itself.

Maybe if SWIY ever gets to the point where alcohol of any kind doesn't cause him to laugh hysterically, he would have more valid input on this subject.
  #19  
Old 10-09-2012, 12:37
rawbeer rawbeer is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coca Cola? Is something missing?

Thanks Yail...

WarmCoCo, did you not bother to read anything else I wrote in that long and super detailed post? There's a link there to a detailed experience report explaining how the absinthe effect differs from alcohol. I guess you didn't read that?

And what are you saying is or isn't scientific? I have no scientific evidence about what absinthe does. But as both Yail Bloor and myself have stated, the effects are so obviously not just alcohol I don't think I need to prove that they exist...they just do. Even if I had no idea what marijuana was I would still be able to assert that pot brownies are different from normal brownies. I'd like to be able to prove what's causing them but I can't nor do I say anywhere that I know. I suggest it's probably thujone but I have no scientific evidence for that so I say it's speculation.

Please read that whole post if you feel like making criticisms.

The effects of absinthe are actually not such that they would cause laughter - as Yail said the laughter was caused by the obviousness of the effects, which are not very subtle like the effects one may get from store bought absinthe (if one gets any effect beyond alcohol from such absinthes at all...).
  #20  
Old 13-10-2012, 03:04
Carefree T Carefree T is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coca Cola? Is something missing?

This thread is hugely informative and piques the interest. My current question is, if "modern absinthes" contain everything but the true, historical thujone content, would it be possible to simply add a thujone ingredient such as freshly-dried, homegrown wormwood or sage substitute simply for the effect purpose? I realize that wormwood without distillation would be gross, but, bear with me, if you added it, would you suppose the effects would entail, given that all the other herbs that provide the synergy are included? The product would be expensive and disgusting, but do you think all the factors of the psychoactive effect would be there in such an experiment?
  #21  
Old 13-10-2012, 04:37
eggomyeggo eggomyeggo is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coca Cola? Is something missing?

I ordered an "Absinthe Kit" that came with a bunch of dried herbs, a ton of worm wood, a filter and some sugar cubes. The website I ordered it from had only sold me high quality herbs in the past and was the most popular distributor of exotic herbs. This kit wasn't to create "real" Absinthe and that was clear but it did contain all of the ingredients in Absinthe. After a few shots of this vodka and Absinthe herbs no one felt enough to really say if it was working.

I made a wormwood extract which had a minor effect on the three people who ate a gram of it whole. It looked like hash but smelled like wormwood. I personally don't think Wormwood alone produces the most noticeable effects of Absinthe. There are some French private distillers that create "real" and illegal Absinthe still using old recipes and it does produce a noticeable effect.

Thanks for the read. I've always been interested in Absinthe and it is to bad that we lost a drink/tonic that our great grandfathers and grandmothers once used. Maybe it is for the better...
  #22  
Old 13-10-2012, 15:37
rawbeer rawbeer is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coca Cola? Is something missing?

Carefree T - doctoring a bottle of absinthe may work but it would be a huge waste of money. You'd be better of using the cheapest pastis you can find, but even then if you use wormwood you'll be totally ruining the flavor. You'd be better off using sage, which would certainly taste much better. But honesty I don't think the extra herbs in absinthe pastis would help much, which brings me to this:

"I personally don't think Wormwood alone produces the most noticeable effects of Absinthe"

Well...I do. As I stated in my follow up post a distilled wormwood liquor is nearly identical to absinthe in effects. Granted it's a little different, but the main effect is there. I think the freshness of the wormwood is very important. I've actually got a bottle made from not so fresh wormwood to be distilled soon and I'm anxious to see if it will have much effect. It will certainly be a letdown if it is inactive but it will prove a point at least - we'll see.

I've also got a whole bottle of just-wormwood liquor awaiting the firey embrace of the still, to further compare its effects to true absinthe.

But I think the reason why so many people who buy A. absinthium and make absinthe get no results is that the wormwood is too old. Dale Pendell says old wormwood is inactive and I honestly think he's currently the best source of info on absinthe. At least that I've read.

I've never tried undistilled absinthe. I licked some off my finger once when I was pouring it into the still...BAD IDEA. It was butt-gross.

I would suggest that anyone interested in wormwood grow their own. It should be easy to grow almost anywhere, although I suppose it may only be an annual some places. A word of warning though - my wormwood and the patch at a friend of mine's house both got HUGE the second year. The first year the stuff never got over 2 feet, didn't flower, was a low-ish groundcover type plant. This summer it bolted straight to the sky, got 4 feet tall, flowered, became an upright woody shrub. My friend freaked out because she had planted it for ornamental reasons (she saw mine, liked the look, I gave her some transplants) along her walkway. The change was dramatic - it ruined the rest of my herb garden because it crowded/ shaded it out. If it gets bigger next year I'm screwed.

This was a terrible summer around here - 100+ degrees and no rain the whole way. The absinthe thrived and I didn't water it once, although I did water nearby herbs so it got a little help. I used to live in Switzerland in A. absinthium's native home - it amazes me that a plant from such a cooler climate can tolerate the excesses of the worst summer in Missouri since 1934. If you can't get this plant to grow, just give up on everything and keep your brown thumbs hitched in your belt loops. But wormwood can be invasive some places - check your own area out first. If it's invasive where you live don't let it go to seed, cut it down when it starts flowering. It will probably rebound and flower again so keep an eye on it.

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  #23  
Old 13-10-2012, 22:44
Carefree T Carefree T is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coca Cola? Is something missing?

Thanks for the detailed response. I live in Colorado, so it may well grow just fine here. Something to think about next spring.
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Old 26-10-2012, 05:32
shwinehund shwinehund is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coca Cola? Is something missing?

From what I understand, the only legit, commercially produced absinthe comes from British Columbia. Due to the large wine industry of the Okanagan, the closest thing to real, pre-ban absinthe, can be purchased, albeit it is rather expensive.

British Columbia, has no limit on thujone content, and as mentioned, the wine industry of the Okanagan allows for a ready supply of mash, and real herbs can be used (as opposed to tinctures added afterwards). So the recipes can be followed very closely, using grape alcohol, and real wormwood. This is probably the closest thing to pre-ban french absinthe.

I thought the hallucinogenic aspect was bogus, but I had some strange experiences drinking it... not like a normal drunk... quite lucid... oh and please dont light it on fire, thats for tourists...
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Old 26-10-2012, 06:21
Carefree T Carefree T is offline
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Re: Is modern Absinthe like modern Coca Cola? Is something missing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by shwinehund View Post
From what I understand, the only legit, commercially produced absinthe comes from British Columbia. Due to the large wine industry of the Okanagan, the closest thing to real, pre-ban absinthe, can be purchased, albeit it is rather expensive.

British Columbia, has no limit on thujone content, and as mentioned, the wine industry of the Okanagan allows for a ready supply of mash, and real herbs can be used (as opposed to tinctures added afterwards). So the recipes can be followed very closely, using grape alcohol, and real wormwood. This is probably the closest thing to pre-ban french absinthe.

I thought the hallucinogenic aspect was bogus, but I had some strange experiences drinking it... not like a normal drunk... quite lucid... oh and please dont light it on fire, thats for tourists...
Interesting, thanks for the info. Though you can do much worse than $55 for a half-liter in that particular market. Does Canada as a whole have any kind of regulation about absinthe's contents? Because Canada never actually banned it in the first place.

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