Tips & Tricks
- There is a good choice of brands these days but many are not authentic absinthes. Some use a wormwood substitute instead of the real thing, others remove the natural oil of wormwood (thujone). The worst are just green-colored vodkas with an “absinthe” label slapped on the bottle. Do your homework before you buy.
- Authentic absinthe isn’t cheap, so don’t expect to dance with the “Green Fairy” if you paid $25 for your bottle. Real absinthe starts at $60-$70, the best can cost well over $100. You get what you pay for, as with anything in life.
- But price alone doesn’t always reflect quality. There are at least three absinthes I know of with a price tag around $100 yet they are, for all intents and purposes, just hopeful absinthe-like imitations trying to cash on the recent absinthe revival. Don’t get fooled by clever P.R.
- The best absinthes are always the hardest to find and are usually in limited supply. Mass-market brands get the most visibility in the media, but that is no testament to their quality or authenticity. I’ve visited enough absinthe distilleries in my life — both large and small — to know the difference between a mass-market absinthe ‘factory’ and a small, dedicated artisanal operation.
- Real absinthe contains thujone and it always has done. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are either ignorant or intentionally deceitful. Thujone-bearing absinthe is still banned in the United States, which is why many producers with an eye on the lucrative American market downplay the importance of this essential element.
- When buying online, check the vendor’s shipping policies. Most reputable sellers guarantee delivery and will reship your order if it’s lost or broken on the way. If they don’t, call your card company, cancel the charge and take your business elsewhere.
- It is safe and legal to import absinthe (for personal consumption) in most countries of the world. I have friends in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Japan and even Singapore who regularly buy absinthe online without any trouble. One notable exception is Norway where the customs sometimes seize absinthe.
- You might or might not like the flavor of absinthe but you will enjoy the experience. If you really can’t develop the taste for it, try it in a cocktail — the effects are worth it!