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Thread: Has anyone ever tried absinthe?

  1. #1
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    Has anyone ever tried absinthe?

    Here is a place you can import it. I've heard the absinthe market is really shady with most of the products called "absinthe" being very low quality and possibly toxic.

    So, has anyone tried it?
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  2. #2
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    Thumbs down Absinthe sn't worth it

    Don't bother.

    Contrary to popular conceptions, Absinthe does nothing more than high-proof liquor.

    What is true though is that it derives it's unique colorations to the presence of wormwood tincture in it. Wormwood is quite toxic. What's more, the toxins of wormwood will remain in a living system for most of the consumer's life. As more of the toxin is consumed, a greater quantity of it builds up in the body. So while it is unlikely to suffer anything worse than a bad hangover from drinking Absinthe once you could end up suffering permanent health effects if you make a regular habit of it.

    But hey, you can act like the cool villain to one of those gothic-action movies from the early '90's (like the Crow).
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  3. #3
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    Absinth is just a liquor that tastes like licorish. It's not toxic until the Laudnum is added.
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  4. #4
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    I thought pure wormwood was poisonous, but the extract used in absinthe was fine.
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  5. #5
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    Well you see that's the thing.

    Traditionally Absinthe was made by soaking Wormwood in Liquor for an extended period of time. When it is made this way it is VERY NOT safe.

    When it is an after-market consumer good it is made using safer techniques but it is no more Absinthe than sour mash rye whisky is Scotch.

    Either way you get a rather gross flavored, hangover inducing, over priced, grey market booze.

    Laudinum is a mixture of opium and alcohol. As such drinking it is about as safe in general as mixing Codene and Alcohol. Again, something I would not advise people to drink.
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  6. #6
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    Hmmm...

    What about the "good" Czech brands? They have safe levels of thujone, right? Or are they so safe that they're too low to do any good?
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  7. #7
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    The absinthe that I had from the Czech Republic before sales were legalized again in the UK (my memory is understandably a bit fuzzy! - but maybe 11 years ago), was definitely not 'just' any old booze.

    Believe me, I was well-versed in drinking any old booze, and that was a real twister. After three mugs in about an hour and a half (at 70% that would be a lot for some people, but in those days it was nothing) I was a giggling vaguely-hallucinating mess, capable of moving with assistance, but soon to fall into a full sleep highly-charged with strange dreams (on a bar stool - another classy image!). I woke up after two hours, feeling fine, clear-headed but still quite happy. Oh it also makes your mouth go numb, in a similar way, but not as extreme as kava-kava...

    Of course, it could have just been psychosomatic, but it didn't have the same effect on any of my friends, although they only had a mug each (it was my birthday and it really does taste foul - like detergent). This could mean: (a) I am psychosomatically susceptible, but from years of being the antithesis of peer pressure, and relatively scientific experimentation, I don't believe so; (b) I am physically more susceptible than other people... again, I have extensive reasons to believe this is not true; (c) The active chemical constituents acted with other compounds residually stored in my tissue: possible, but some of my friends I drank it with were really heavy substance abusers and experimenters; (d) It does those things!

    I have also drunk 'fake' absinthe and can agree (though that was 70 or so % too) it was just a foul-smelling and -tasting liquor. The second time I had the 'real' stuff, I can only descrivbe the effect as being very spaced-out, a little gnarly, and rather *****... kinda similar to whenever I drink (!) but for want of more scientific words it was ... different. That time, however, it was not such a controlled experience as I had been drinking other things and I couldn't specifically attribute the effects it had to the absinthe.

    SimonM is correct about the differences in how it is made, tho I believe there is traditionally also a technique which involves distilling the liquor with the wormwood in it, as opposed to soaking it in the pre-made liquor. With some plants this doesn't increase the potency, but it generally varies the compounds extracted. I don't know in the case of wormwood.

    Wormwood's main dangerous active constituents are thujone and a chlorogenic phenolic acid. Both of these will stay in your system: thujone is the opiate which will lead to hallucinations and according to some sources derangement, and that phenol will eventually destroy the nerve connections.

    Here is quite a nice reference. Notice this site recommends not using it, but it does not go into the action of alcohol on it (not many studies have been made), and as SimonM and myself have said, a lot depends on how it is made.

    It was traditionally used as a pesticide in kitchen gardens, and to kill intestinal worms and the like. Also as an appetite stimulant (which is from where we get Vermouth - Wermut - Wormwood). Its close relative Southernwood grows all over the US and was traditionally used ritually by some native American tribes. This is not necessarily a recommendation...!

    The booze was blamed for a lot of things in the 19th century, but some studies have suggested this was to take the blame away from the more easily controllable laudnum and other poppy-derived opiates as they were a flourishing part of Victorian trade. It is most likely that both of these opiates were to blame for many of the ills attributed to absinthe, and as far as I know, nobody has studied the action of the compounds on each other. The most notorious cases leading to its banning were Gilles de Rais and Van Gogh.

    Incidentally, the rant in Mike Leigh's movie 'Naked' is largely historically accurate: wormwood is another name for Chernobyl (strictly that's actually Mugwort, but in different parts of the world, and even the UK closely related plants often share the same name), and is mentioned extensively in the Bible (although these are different plants they are very closely related, closer than say Tarragon and Estragon which are also the same family), especially Revelations as the name of the meteorite that poisons water and melts tongues and is one of the precursors to Armageddon... my Christian mythology is a little rusty: ask one of the Semites on the board. Although this rant is quite funny, mugwort is also used as a main ingredient in Chinese medicine and (as Wikipedia tells me) for moxa. That rant also really really ****ed me off, cos it's almost exactly along the lines of the stuff that I'd come up with in my research, and had already half-written into a character in a book! Mike ******* Leigh: I'd bloody swing for him!

    Edit, crosspost. Hi Iron, most of the Czech stiuff now is made for the export market, so will not be the traditional stuff anyway. Check with the importer or preferably the manufacturer. But no, generally, if it is traditional it does not have safe levels of thujone (if there is such a thing!)!
    Last edited by Mr Punch; 12-12-2004 at 05:23 PM.
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  8. #8
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    That's the scientific nonsense, but TBH Iron, on gut feeling, I'd say, try it. Sure it's not good for you on cumulative effect but what booze is? If you don't drink it regularly you shouldn't have a problem!
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  9. #9
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    I looked into Absinthe in my art school days. Thought about trying the drink that fueled so many of the post impressionists. Then I found out that all I could get in Canada was the fake stuff (which is rediculously expensive) or home-made stuff that might just be poison if the wrong ammount of Wormwood was used.

    If you have found a supplier of traditionally made Absinthe and want to give it a try it probably won't do any lasting damage if you just try it once. Just don't be upset if nothing too exciting happens. For every testimonial about wierd dreams, etc. there are about 10 of getting drunk, getting hung over, getting an empty wallet. I found that out when I was trying to decide whether or not to try to acquire some myself.
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  10. #10
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    Yeah, you're about right, but with good stuff, I'd say it's not 'for every one... there's ten...' but that it's more like for every five...
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  11. #11
    Iron, just go down the street corner and buy some acid, peyote, mushrooms, whatever. Or go to Queensland, Oz, and lick cane toads.
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  12. #12
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    Originally posted by Toby
    Iron, just go down the street corner and buy some acid, peyote, mushrooms, whatever. Or go to Queensland, Oz, and lick cane toads.
    Quite frankly, I agree with this :P

    Thujones (the "active" substance in wormwood) binds to the same chemical receptors as THC. Unfortunately, this is where the similarity ends. Thujones is a neurotoxin that actually causes tissue necrosis.

    I certainly feel that the psychedelics Toby listed are certainly more safe and better on the body than anything with wormwood in it.

    EDIT: Just wanted to add that I don't advocate the use of illegal substances. That being said, people will do what they want, and I feel that telling them the truth about substances is better than simply "Drugs are bad, mkay?" All "drugs" are not equal. Research anything completely before you do it.

    Also, I should add that I have tried absinthe. It's horrible tasting and definitely has more effect than the alcohol that is in it. Overall, I don't think it's worth trying, myself.
    Last edited by Hau Tien; 12-12-2004 at 06:52 PM.
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  13. #13
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    Thujone is not structurally related to opiates in any way. Opiate is not a catchall term for drugs of various sorts, but only those with a characteristic chemical backbone.

    Just thought I'd clear that up.

    I do have a bottle of the stuff sitting on my shelf, (smuggled in from an undisclosed country, during my travels) and according to the label, it contains wormwood.

    It's really cool to pour, but it tastes like ass, unless you really like licorice. It's interesting as a novelty item. I don't find it has much of an effect on me, but I have extreme "desensivity" to drugs in general - I never get cool side effects...except for antihistamines which put me to sleep instantly.
    Last edited by Merryprankster; 12-12-2004 at 07:22 PM.
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  14. #14
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    We used to drink some sort of absinthe.. "melt" the sugar and the whole nine... It gave me a different "drunk" than say a vodka drunk.. but either way, it wasn't the best tasting thing in the world.
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  15. #15
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    We've had a couple of bottles and each time it produced the same sort of atmosphere as a a room full of hyper people on drugs.

    Try it.

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