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Make Absinthe (With the Help of a Kit)

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Yesterday, we blogged about how you can make distilled absinthe, with links to websites that either sell stills or provide directions for creating homemade stills. But since distilling alcohol without a permit is illegal and distillation is a complicated, time-consuming process, today we're going to show you another option: how to make absinthe from herbal kits without any distillation.

Absinthe connoisseurs will tell you that if it isn't distilled, it isn't "real" absinthe -- and this is true, to some extent. The only way to get a very high-proof alcohol is to distill it, and traditionally, absinthe has always been distilled.

But thanks to the resurgence of absinthe (helped largely by its decriminalization in the United States), enterprising companies like www.greendevil.com and www.absinthekit.com have begun selling "absinthe kits" that allow people to easily make absinthe (or some semblance thereof) at home.

These kits average $35 each, but once you've got one, making your own absinthe is almost as easy as opening a bottle of wine.

The first kind of absinthe kit on the market is basically a tea bag of dried herbs (these are the types of kits sold at greendevil.com and absolutelyabsinthe.com). To make absinthe from one of these dried herb kits, simply put the bag of herbs in a glass container and add two liters of alcohol (you'll want to use a grain alcohol; Everclear or vodka usually work best). Let the herbs soak in the alcohol for five days. Refrigerating absinthe is not recommended, as many of the herbal oils are not soluble in very cold temperatures, and the absinthe could louche (cloud) before you're ready to drink it.

After the herbs soak in the alcohol for five days, squeeze all liquid from the bag of herbs into your absinthe-to-be, then rinse the herb bag with vodka and squeeze it into your alcohol again. Then, pour the absinthe through a filter (like a coffee filter). Many absinthe kits come with "micron filters" that fit into funnels, and multiple filterings are recommended (at least three filterings per absinthe batch). Once you've filtered your absinthe several times, it's ready to be bottled and consumed.

If you don't even want to bother with letting herbs sit for several days and multiple filterings, the absinthe kits at sites like www.absinthekit.com and www.absinthe-dealer.com make homemade absinthe even easier. These kits are small bottles of concentrated liquid, often marketed as "essences of absinthe," that contain all the absinthe herbs (including wormwood).

To make absinthe using one of these liquid essences, just add the essence to alcohol (again, go with Everclear or vodka). Generally, you'll want to use no more than 2/3 of an ounce of absinthe essence per 25 ounces of alcohol. Once you've mixed your essences and alcohol, your homemade absinthe is ready to drink.

Now that we've shown you how to make distilled absinthe and how to make absinthe from kits, we're ready to recommend the best brands of absinthe you can buy. Check back with us tomorrow for the skinny on buying absinthe, along with a couple special absinthe drink recipes.

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