This week, we've shown you how to make absinthe through distillation and with kits. Today, we're taking the really easy road -- just buying it. Feel free to take it easy, we're going to share which brands of absinthe are the best to buy, where to purchase them, and we'll share a couple absinthe drink recipes.
There are several brands of absinthe currently on the market. Some are available for purchase at local liquor stores, but many brands must be ordered on the Internet. Absinthe comes in two types: blanche, which is clear and more floral tasting, and verte, which is a light green or peridot color and has a more herbal taste. Our list of top four absinthe brands includes both.Kübler:
This blanche from Switzerland is available at all Valley Bev-Mo locations, and even at a few Safeway grocery stores around town. It's 57 percent alcohol, smells strongly of anise (which smells like black licorice), and it louches (clouds) very quickly when water is added. It's a little on the sweet side for absinthe, so you really don't need to add sugar. Cost: Around $44.99 to $54.99.
Obsello Absinthe Verte: Made in Spain, Obsello is distilled with Grape Neutral spirits, which gives it a slightly citrus taste and a soft green color. There are also hints of earthy mint, vanilla, and anise. It's a slightly creamy, very flavorful blend. Unfortunately, Obsello is not as widely available in Arizona as Kübler. Some stores have it on occasion, but Obsello is produced in small, single batches, so it tends to quickly disappear from shelves. You'll probably need to order it direct at www.obsello.com, or through an online liquor merchant like www.drinkupny.com. Cost: Around $44.99 to $59.99.
Mansinthe: This is the brand developed by shock rocker Marilyn Manson, which he commissioned Mark Lion to make in Switzerland. It's a verte, and smells strongly of wormwood and coriander. The texture of Mansinthe is thin, and the anise flavor (like potent black licorice) isn't as dominant as it is in many other brands. It's usually available at Bev-Mo and Total Wine & More locations. Cost: Around $44.99 to $62.99.
Brevans: One of the best absinthes on the market, Brevans is a Swiss Verte named for Jacques de Brevans, author of a manual on French liquor-making. It's a radiant green color, and has a more floral scent and taste, with a bit of a medicinal sour kick that recedes into a sweet aftertaste. It takes a while to louche and it isn't very creamy, but has a wonderfully complex herbal taste. Unfortunately, Brevans isn't available in Arizona stores. You'll have to order it from Europe, from a site like alandia.de. Cost: Around $53 before shipping.
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Once you've got your absinthe, give these drink recipes a try:
(Modern) Fire Fairy: Place one ounce of Amaretto in a shot glass and pour ½ ounce of absinthe on top. Pour the shot into a pint glass of Red Bull. (Recipe from www.originalabsinthe.com)
(Classic) Imperial Cocktail: Combine 1 and 1/8 ounce of shaved ice, two ounces of dry vermouth, two ounces of maraschino liquor, a dash of orange bitters, and a dash of absinthe. Stir, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a maraschino cherry and lemon twist. (Recipe from the New & Improved Illustrated Bartender's Manual, 1888)