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:
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.
- 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
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'
'Spiritus et Aqua Absynthii magis composita Or spirit and water of
Wormwood, the greater composition'
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 Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus)
50g Liquorice root
20g Fennel seeds
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
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)
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 %.
- 28 grams wormwood (artemisia absinthium)
- 28 grams aniseed
- 28 grams fennel
- 28 grams star anise
- 3.5grams coriander
If you wish to have a traditionally colored drink, add to the litre or so of liquor the following:
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!
- 4.5 grams mint
- 4.5 grams wormwood
- 4.5 grams licorice root (cut)
- 1.25 grams citrus peel
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.
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
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!!!
Soak another 7-10 days
- 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
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!
Steven warns against using wormwood oil ...
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