Wine Coolers, Zima, Hard Lemonade, Hard Seltzer. You can plot when each generation reached drinking age and was having trouble with the transition.
In addition, here is my recent test of absinthe.
Had a flashback. I was looking for something to watch on Netflix/Hulu/Prime/Whatever while I ate breakfast. There’s a documentary on Absinthe. 2010. I saw it on Prime. It’s French, subtitled, bad picture quality.
Probably most people know a lot of the history of the drink at this point. But I was brought back to my clubbing days. Which, I have become aware, are now gone for me.
I’m not sure if it was me personally who brought Absinthe into the Los Angeles Goth/Industrial scene. And I’m not sure why I keep capitalizing Absinthe.
I know I was one of the earlier drinkers of it. It was still illegal and I had it imported from the Czech Republic which was outside the EU at the time. So that was prior to 2004.
I remember the exact night and circumstance for me getting involved in Absinthe. I was drinking vodka, which was my go-to drink. I stopped drinking screwdrivers and was having just pure double and triple-shots of vodka. I remember walking around the club and my stomach was literally full of vodka. Like Thanksgiving-dinner-turkey full. And I didn’t have a buzz.
I was like, this is ridiculous. (Gary, is that a gay term, ridiculous? –Key and Peele.) I was spending so much money trying to get a buzz so I could shuffle my body around and pretend to dance and socialize. It was the combination of the bar bill, which was maybe $100 just for me, and the fact it did absolutely nothing except make me bloated.
I started looking around for higher alcohol content. Researching and researching and scanning. I’d vaguely heard the word absinthe but didn’t know much about it. Online shopping was pretty new at that point. Amazon Prime didn’t exist until 2005.
I ordered a bunch of absinthe and kind of forgot about it, wondering if would be stopped at customs. Part of this was you couldn’t buy alcohol online. Pot wasn’t legal. My “strong,” non-addictive drug phase was over. Bacardi 151 was not common at all, and I had yet to hear of it. The moonshine craze hadn’t started. Etc. I just wanted a party lubricant that didn’t kill me. But it was very illegal in this country because it had been long associated with toxic wormwood that could kill you.
I wasn’t against supporting my bars, clubs, and bartenders. I just couldn’t get a buzz off anything they carried.
When I got the absinthe delivered. I quickly found it was good, effective. I introduced others to it. Singing its praises whilst drunk at clubs. Century absinthe was one of my go-tos. And I probably ordered a dozen bottles total. Which is mind-boggling to thinking about. They went out of business. It was something like 77% alcohol! Or some weird total like 77.8%. I’d never had a drink you HAD to dilute. It would burn your soft tissue and leave you speaking like a frog for a night if you tried to drink it straight.
Personally, I’d go to whatever clubs with my absinthe. Had a flask in the car where I’d pre-mix and drink while listening to the radio and looking for cops. Cuz I was literally drinking inside my car. One time a cop did come by. Like a ninja. Just out of nowhere was by my window. I said I wasn’t driving, was in a private lot, had hours and hours to sober up. She made me take the keys out of my car, which had on the radio. I complied.
At some point, I think the manufacturers changed or my tastes suddenly changed. I simply hated the taste of absinthe. It had never bothered me and all of a sudden I couldn’t stand it. Most varieties have a tremendously-strong anise (black licorice) flavor. Which is nearly impossible to cover with any other flavor. It’s like having pure, liquid sugar and going, “okay, what can I add to this so it isn’t sweet?” Nothing, stupid.
I made a joke about it:
Black licorice was the candy people used to eat to prove they were poor.
P: Here, try this.
K: Ick, it’s disgusting.
P: Sure is. Just think how bad off we are when we consider that a treat.
As a reference, back when we would get jelly beans at Easter or whenever, we’d always discard the black ones. Cuz they were horrid. My dad would eat them. He loved black licorice, because he grew up poor, and that’s what they had.
The number of absinthe retailers kept expanding. I’d only really thought about this now. From having a couple sources on all of the internet, there was suddenly a catalog across EU. Most of it was without thujone, or some incredibly small amount. Which is the “psychoactive” compound of wormwood. US even got on board before it was legal and was selling absente. Which was just an anise-flavored really strong alcohol. And crap.
It’s odd all this stuff just started spiraling. I had been looking for a way to get a buzz without going broke. That’s it. I can’t say I made a global market for absinthe because I didn’t drink THAT much. I’m sure my tastes and searching just coincided with other people doing the same and the state of various laws and retailers.
Then, I finally couldn’t really stomach it any longer. Not the actual booze, simply the taste. No matter what I tried mixing it with or preparing it with, I just didn’t enjoy it. And there was some night I decided that drinking something disgusting to me wasn’t worth the buzz. The various non-aninse absinthes I tried were invariably horrible.
Czech Republic joined EU. Then it became legal all over. Legal in the US. And you can buy anything online.
Moulin Rouge! featured absinthe a lot. That was 2001. So did a few other movies like Bram Stoker’s Dracula. A few books I read (Wormwood) had it. But most of the time they had it based on the old gossip, making it out to be some kind of mild meth-heroin. Because it was illegal and you couldn’t get any version of it. So writers had no reference for what it was really like.
I haven’t had absinthe in many years. But the documentary brought back all those memories and I thought I’d jot them down.
I bought some from BevMo. Old standard Pernod. 68% alchyhol.
I poured a very careful shot, knowing how potent it was. Added cane sugar. Water. Probably 3/4ths water. Maybe it louched. I didn’t care.
The anise flavor…wasn’t as bad as I remember. I can’t see me sipping it and going, “wow, this is tasty,” but it was fine. I believe we lose taste ability as we age. So pretty soon I’ll be eating prunes mixed with cooked broccoli and sprinkled with bird shit. Good for the humours.
I drank 3 shots total over about 45 mins. ZOMG so much. Actually, it wasn’t. The buzz is very similar to normal alcohol, but I didn’t feel that haze or slow down.
I ate a LOT. I was stuffing my face. I didn’t do any super complicated cooking, but I did do some and managed to not burn my place down or even spoil the food. Played some computer games, went for a bike ride with the dog. No hangover. Nothing residual at all, really.
Anyway, the absinthe experiment was fine. It’s pricey stuff and you need at least sugar/water to mix it. Or an iron esophagus.