Absinthe

There are three basic styles for making absinthe.
1. Add wormwood to a wine and distill off. Soak some wormwood in neutral spirit to colour, and add the two together.
2. Soak wormwood in some neutral alcohol
3. Adding oil extract to neutral alcohol.
Of these, (1) is the traditional technique, but (2) is commonly used by "cheaper" manufacturers. Style (3) is usually shunned.

Wal writes ...
    Pernod is Absinthe without the wormwood for legal reasons. If you want to know what it tasted once, macerate wormwood (artemisia absinthium) in the bottle.

    An article on Absinthe (Scientific American, June 1989, pp112-117) describes a 1855 recipe from Pontarlier, France. Here is a scaled down version you can try:
    • Macerate 25g wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), 50g anise, and 50g fennel (all finely divided) in 950ml 85%abv in a 2l flask. (Note: no heat was specified for extraction).
    • Add 450ml distilled water.
    • Do a pot still distillation, collecting 950ml of distillate.
    • Separate 400ml of the distillate, add 10g Roman wormwood (Artemisia pontica), 10g hyssop, 5g lemon balm, and macerate at 60C.
    • Filter and reunite with the remaining 550ml and dilute to 74%abv to produce 1litre of Absinthe.
    Note: I think you use crushed aniseed and fennel seed, as it is the seed that has the strongest flavor. You can see that it is the anise flavor that predominates.

    Modern "Pernod" and "Ricard" are basically absinthes without the wormwood. They are now known as a "pastis" (regional for "melange" or mixture). As a substitute for wormwood, the modern drink uses increased amounts of aniseed. Pernod includes aniseed, fennel, hyssop, lemon balm along with lesser amounts of angelica root, star-anise, dittany, juniper, nutmeg, veronica. Different absinthe manufacturers used slightly different ingredients, sometimes using nutmeg and calamus, both of which have purported psychoactive effects.

    In Culpeper's 'The Complete Herbal', 1653, there is a recipe that looks like the ancestor of Absinthe and which is still relevant, unlike some of the others which include vipers, swallows, roosters and snails! I have redacted it to a 20l (5US gal) quantity. See - 'Compounds, Spirit and Compound Distilled Waters' http://www.bootlegbooks.com/NonFiction/Culpeper/Herbal/chap375.html

    'Spiritus et Aqua Absynthii magis composita Or spirit and water of Wormwood, the greater composition'

    Absinthe (1653)

    20 L wash 14-18%abv
    750g Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
    750g Roman wormwood (Artemisia pontica)
    4 tbsp Sage
    4 tbsp Mint
    4 tbsp Lemon balm
    20g Galangal
    20g Ginger
    20g Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus)
    20g Elecampane
    50g Liquorice root
    150g Raisins
    20g Aniseed
    20g Fennel seeds
    15g Cinnamon
    15g Nutmeg
    5g Cardamon
    5g Cubeb pepper (Piper cubeba)
    Macerate chopped ingredients for at least 12 hours and then distill. Add 1 cup of sugar/litre of distillate. Absinthe was originally about 60%abv, while the above 1653 recipe was intended to be a single pot distillation.
ARTEMISIA ABSINTHIUM (Wormwood)

Synonyms : Wormwood; Common Wormwood

Definition : Artemisia Absinthium consists of the dried leaves and flowering tops of Artemisia absinthium L. (Fam. Compositae), a shrubby al herb growing in the United States and Canada. It is cultivated in N. Africa, Europe and the U.S.A. The flowering tops are collected during the late summer Artemisia Absinthium yields about 1% of volatile oil containing thujone (absinthol), thujyl alcohol and iso-valeric acid . It contains, in addition absinthin and a bitter glycoside.

Jack recommends the following as very good ...
    In one litre of undiluted clear spirit (95%) soak for twenty days (shaking once a day) the following:
    • 28 grams wormwood (artemisia absinthium)
    • 28 grams aniseed
    • 28 grams fennel
    • 28 grams star anise
    • 3.5grams coriander
    After twenty days of soaking, add water until 40% is reached, then put the liquid with the herbs in your still and distill out to the 60 to 70% alcohol range - this must be done right out of the still - the anise oils are dissolved in the alcohol, if you add water to dilute the distillate, it will turn cloudy as the oil droplets are thrown out of solution. If your still is picky about the % of alcohol it will produce, just dilute down to a level that will distill out to 60-70%. Sometimes tails will show up before this % is reached - you just made a stronger batch - unless you want to re-distill it (with the herbs) you'll have to live with that %.

    If you wish to have a traditionally colored drink, add to the litre or so of liquor the following:
    • 4.5 grams mint
    • 4.5 grams wormwood
    • 4.5 grams licorice root (cut)
    • 1.25 grams citrus peel
    Just soak the above until the color you want is reached, then filter and bottle. If artemisia absinthium cannot be found, artemisia pontica (roman wormwood), tanacetum vulgare (tansy), salvia officinalis (sage), thuja occidentalis (white cedar), or artemisia vulgaris (mugwort) may also be used in it's place. This is a traditional absinthe recipe from the turn of the century. As for those worried about the medical effects- recent research has found that the old disease "absinthism" has symptoms and progression remarkably similar to plain old alchoholism, and the amount of thujone (active ingredient in wormwood) in a glass of absinthe is less than one-tenth the amount needed to cause convulsions in rats (when injected). For those interested in making absinthe but unable to find the above plants, thujone is found in most of the Compositae (daisy) family- a little research should find alternates to the above plants. enjoy!
Larry cautions ...
    Jacks Absinthe recipe will not only taste lousy, but is potentially dangerous, because the maceration time he recommends is 19 days too long. All vintage absinthe recipes indicate to macerate the herbs in 85% alcohol for Less than 24 hours, and then distill. If you macerate longer than this, you infuse the alcohol with too many of the harmful properties of the wormwood, and not only will your drink taste nauseatingly bitter, but it can also make you ill.

    Also note that modern Pernod is not Absinthe without the wormwood. Pastis is a descendant from Absinthe (Pernod & Ricards way of dealing with the Absinthe ban of 1915), but is an entirely different drink with a different recipe made by different processes. Modern Pernod has more in common with Ouzo than Absinthe.

    As a side note you can find some wonderful and safe Absinthe recipes at: http://www.feeverte.net/bedel/.
Xneon writes :
    I combed the web for a few days compileing all that i had found with a few modifications we have produced a GREAT recipie!!!
      Take
    • 750ml 90+% alc.
    • 2oz wormwood
      soak for aprox. 7-10 days
      strain (dont worry about leaving a small amounts in)
    • 2 tbl ea anise & fennel
    • 3-4t bl spearmint (light flavor but goes well)
    • 1 tsp coriander
    • 1/2 tsp caraway
    • 1/4 tsp cardamon
    • 1 tbl angelica root
    • 1 tbl ea anise hyssop & hyssop
    Soak another 7-10 days
    add 750ml water and potstill for BEST results (i will not try it any other way

    I used a 1 gallon stove top potstill
    took a heads of 1/2 oz and then collected about 1000-1200ml
    blended to 65% and added 1 drop of green food coloring for effect (i just havent steeped any woormwood for color yet)
Volodia writes ...
    Make you own absinthe,although the use of wormwood in spirits is banned because of its thujone content, although some sources say the quantity is slight and the danger is exaggerated. Similarly Zubrowka or bison grass flavored vodka is modified for the U.S. market because of it contains coumarin which is a blood thinner. I would have thought that because of the high cholesterol diet of the average American this would be useful! Bison grass or sweet grass (hierochloe odorata) is readily available in the U.S. and makes a great flavored vodka - watch that you don't bleed to death though!

    See:http://absinth.com/links/history.html

    Steven warns against using wormwood oil ...
      According to http://www.gumbopages.com/food/beverages/absinthe.html wormwood oil has nothing to do with absinthe, and is POISONOUS ! There is much more on that site, aswell as a story of some guy trying to get high by drinking a bottle of wormwood esential oil :).

      Instead, try SAFER means, such as perhaps even growing your own wormwood 'Artemisia absinthium' by buying seeds from http://www.thymegarden.com/ seeds/plants from http://www.peruvian-journey.com/wormwood.htm, or probably from many other places (just search for buying wormwood artemisia absinthium at google i guess)


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