Friday, 11 May 2012

Absinthe for the Beginner

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The first time I tried Absinthe was a mistake. A big one. First off, I was not, obviously, a serious and experienced absinthe drinker, and so went with the strongest recipe I could find to mix it. The night that followed wasn't a complete nightmare or anything, but was certainly regrettable.

Let me backtrack a little before continuing. A friend of mine ordered the Absinthe from Original Absinthe, which ships anywhere in the world, as far as I know. He ordered one bottle for me and one for himself. When our order came in, I paid for my half and we set to drinking the first weekend we both had available. First, however, we hit the liquor store, as offered on the Original Absinthe's site, along with a neat little booklet that came with the shipment, are recipes. One of these recipes calls for 1/2 Absinthe to 1/2 brandy.

The Absinthe of my choice was the Absinthe Original, which is 70% alcohol and 15 mg of thujone--thujone A.K.A wormwood that makes absinthe absinthe. Stupid and naive, my friend and I headed to that liquor store and bought some brandy, which is typically 40% alcohol. I knew, somewhere deep in my mind while making that purchase that I was making a mistake, but I was excited. I had wanted to try absinthe for a long long time, and that night was to be the very awe inspiring night I had dreamed of for years.

It didn't happen that way. Not in the least.

We then headed for the grocery store, where my friend bought a couple of cans of Redbull, the energy drink.

I'm sure you can see where this is going.

If not, then let me indulge you. We got back to my friend's house where we commenced some intense video game playing. At first, I remember wondering when the drinking would start. We played Mortal Combat and some zombie killing game, which name eludes me right now. Finally, around ten or eleven o'clock, we broke the seals of our emerald-filled bottles.

Right away, I mixed my Absinthe with the brandy. The taste was surprisingly good, if a little strong to my inexperienced tongue. Also a little bitter, so after a couple of drinks, my friend suggested putting some Redbull in with the insane concoction. Actually, looking back, I think that I asked him for some of his Redbull to mix in. Whatever the case, this mixture was the beginning of the end.

We continued to play video games, where my hand-eye coordination continued to consistently fail more and more as the night went on.

It was around here, somewhere between midnight and one o'clock, where I blacked out.

After this are only snippets of memory. I remember moving to another room, where there was a bigger television to play our video games. I also slightly remember pouring absinthe from one bottle into another to prove that I was still sober enough to do such difficult things.

In the end, my friend called Jen, my girlfriend/wife, and then a cab. He accompanied me in the journey home, before of which I had fallen and smashed my eye on a concrete slab in his driveway while waiting. I remember nothing of this, nor do I remember the drive home. I also don't remember him and Jen carrying me into my house and setting me on my reclining chair. I am very glad that I don't remember when I started vomiting.

It was an experience that could have been good, but turned out to be a bad one. And it was all my fault. I took it too far. In short, I held absolutely no respect for the green fairy. You can bet that she kicked the shit out of me for it.

The next thing I remember is waking up on my recliner. It was like returning from the dead. One moment, there was nothing but darkness, oblivion. Next moment, I'm awake with a quick inhalation of oxygen, my eyes fluttering in confusion. It was noon, and the sun was shining through the living room window, blinding and painful. It did nothing to burn away the suspicion and dread that something bad had happened.

The fact that my wife, Jen, was sleeping on the couch beside me only intensified this dread.

She told me the story of my foolishness soon after waking, and it is a story not without its message: Treat the absinthe, the green fairy, with respect and she will respect you back. You go in head first like a fool, and she will kick your sorry ass.

For a good six months following, I was completely turned off from absinthe. Even the smell repulsed me. But soon I warmed up to it again, stealing weak drinks here and there, and experiencing the strong drink perhaps as it should be with a novice such as I. I have even gone as far as to buy more, weaker absinthe, in the hopes of reconnecting to my old fascination with the taboo liquor.

It has worked.

And I urge anyone who has the same inclinations, for absinthe is well known within any Gothic, horror, painter, artistic, scene--nearly any world of creation has had its romance with the emerald queen--to take it easy the first time. Start with one or two drinks only. I highly recommend the 1/2 shot to 4 or 5 ounces water with a cube or two of sugar--should you be lucky enough to have gotten an absinthe spoon.

And if you are a first time absinthe drinker, do indeed start with a weaker version of absinthe, such as Absinthe Original Innocent--which is made for novice absinthe drinkers--but no stronger than Absinthe Original Bitter Spirit. You will thank yourself in the end. Because I nearly ruined my experience with Absinthe by jumping in headfirst without first checking for rocks and other such fatal obstacles.

You treat absinthe with respect, then she will respect you back. This I promise.

Happy drinking!

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