La Fee Verte

Damn Matt to hell. He sent me this link and any adverse consequence is entirely his to bear... I have long been a sucker for the mystique built up around absinthe. Anything that might have contributed to Van Gogh lopping of his ear can't be all bad, right? Right? Well, you know what I'm getting at. Plus, I like anise/liquorice flavors, so I bet I'd dig it.

So then comes this: The Mystery of the Green Menace

So Breaux decided to make some himself. He found a French-language history book with "pre-ban protocols," a vague description of how absinthe was made back before it was outlawed. Armed with the protocols, he prepared a batch in the lab. The result? "Not very good," he concedes. "I couldn't imagine that being the most popular liqueur in France."

He got his chance to taste the real thing in 1996, when a friend spotted a bottle marked "old French liquor" at an estate sale. They were asking $300, and Breaux, seeing it was a vintage Spanish Pernod Tarragona absinthe, immediately wrote a check. When he got it to his lab, he plunged a syringe through the cork, extracted one precious sip, and downed it. "It had a honeyed texture, distinct herbal and floral notes, and a gentle roundness uncharacteristic of such a strong liquor," he says. "Those protocols were crap."

So, Ted Breaux used his gas chromatography-mass spectrometer to analyze some old, pre-ban absinthe and has figured how to distill something approaching the real thing. (Breaux calls the stuff you can get in the Czech Republic, etc. these days "mouthwash and vodka in a bottle, with some aromatherapy oil.")

"It's like an herbal speedball," he says. "Some of the compounds are excitatory, some are sedative. That's the real reason artists liked it. Drink two or three glasses and you can feel the effects of the alcohol, but your mind stays clear - you can still work."

Breaux has hooked up with a distiller in France and you can order his goods online -- shipped via courier -- for around $150 a bottle. Yikes. I don't even spend that kind of scratch on Scotch, and I know I like Scotch.

But I am sorely tempted...

Damn you, Matt.