Monday, February 29, 2016

Sunset Cocktail: Tipperary Cocktail

1 1/2 oz. Jameson Irish Whiskey
1 oz. Sweet vermouth
1/2. oz Green Chartreuse
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Stir everything on ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Finish by expressing the oils of an orange peel over the glass.

As I search for more Chartreuse cocktails I come across this twist on the Bijou Cocktail using a wonderful balance of Irish Whiskey and Green Chartreuse. This may be a new favorite.

It was nearly 60 in New England today on the last day of February.  Now that I usually get home from work at a reasonable hour it would have been a shame to miss the sunset on such a nice day.

As the year progresses the sun will move a little more to the right as I look out from my deck. Tragically I don't have quite the scenic view I used to. Over the winter the sun set over the new Wendy's and is now setting over the gas station. As time move on, instead of the beautiful trees that were directly in front of my apartment, you will probably be joining me for a drink in front of the new Midas Muffler place... That is, until whatever office building or retail place gets built on the levelled dirt that's being molded for progress.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Week 9: Pacifique [52 Whispers From The Muse]

Pacifique

Overall Rating: 4.0
Appearance: 4.0
Louche: 4.0
Aroma: 4.0
Flavor/Mouthfeel: 4.0
Finish: 4.0
Overall: 4.0



Style: Verte
ABV: 62%
Country: United States
Distillery: Pacific Distillery

Appearance: A nice, light yellow green a little greener than Chartreuse. Clean and bright.
Louche: Nice and swirly in the making. I learned from reading other's reviews a while ago that the trick to getting a nice, thick louche is by using very cold ice water. The first few times I drank this it came out very thin until I waited for the water to chill a bit in the freezer and used an easy, slow drip.
Aroma: Like an herbal perfume, well balanced and fresh.
Flavor/Mouthfeel: The well balanced aroma carries over to the flavor. While not a complaint or detriment, it did seem apparent that it was made with a neutral grain spirit as opposed to a grape based. That being said, it was extremely clean and had a nice crispness.
Finish: A mild finish that ends with distinct Wormwood and a little bit of numbing. Very nice.
Overall: A beautiful drink and great representation of an American made Absinthe. A very open and honest drink (they even list all of the herbs they use right on the label).

photo courtesy of Bill Manning
I picked this one to review this week after a conversation with a friend who moved out to the Seattle area from good, ole' New England. He asked me for an absinthe brand recommendation and, living in the area, I suggested Pacifique. To my great envy he was able to take a tour, pick up a bottle and some Pacifique glasses with spoons (pictured left) which I now need for my life to be complete.

Pacifique was one of the earliest brands I tried which due to it's absolute deliciousness, helped solidify my love for absinthe. When I first tried it, I liked it, but as time went on and I tried more and more brands, I really began to appreciate the quality of this one. This one also breaks my preconceived idea that all of the best absinthes are made from a grape based spirit.

I think it also helped that after a few glasses I went and read reviews in which many mentioned how picky this drink is with water temperature. The colder and slower the drip, the better the louche and creamier the texture. It really did just get better and better.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Desideratum

I was lazily looking through some old drawings the other day, not really looking for inspiration but more to see if there is anything I could proudly post without having to somehow muster up a new idea and the motivation to put forth the effort to realize that idea. I found a folder of pics from about 5 years ago that did at least make me want to have some motivation to do something just for the sake of doing something.

The pics were part of an old 30 day drawing challenge which I was considering picking up again for the 3rd time. Unfortunately, if I remember correctly, the old database for this site crashed about halfway through and I lost all of those posts and the structure of the challenge.

I was hoping I could drum something new up with any of my other artist friends just to have a vehicle to push me into drawing again. I have been drumming up my will to try to get back into drawing comics but I have a lot of cobwebs to shake loose and gears to oil before I can really make it a reality.

So this is a request, to see if anyone out there is up for, has the time, will and skill to do.... something with me where we decide to do some sort of drawing of some sort of topic on some sort of schedule and post them. I have a bunch of artistic friends but I also know that we all suck at time management and have significant obligations in life because we're trying so goddamned hard to adult.

If you're up for it, let me know. Send me a comment or a message wherever you see this post and we can decide on a plan and start something up. It will be fun and motivating getting used to drawing again. It's been kinda sad that I got out of the habit of drawing something for just about everything.

I doubt I'll be able to do a challenge on my own without someone else's input. It's hard to admit but I've become easily discouraged over the last few years for a number of reasons there is no point getting into. If no one else is interested, maybe I'll just try to set up a poll to offer things up to do.






Monday, February 22, 2016

Sunset Cocktail: Dead Man's Mule


1 oz. St. George Absinthe
1 oz. Orgeat
1/2 oz. Allspice Dram
1/2 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
2 oz. + Crabbies Ginger Beer

Build first 4 ingredients over crushed ice in a Copper Mule Mug, stir or swizzle, top with more crushed ice and Ginger Beer.

It's about time I did a mule drink in a lovely copper mug. Good folks and family who read some of my posts last year took to heart when I said I didn't have any such mugs and presented some to me last Yule much to my delight. 

So far this year has started to put things in motion with the potential to actually swing upward. While things aren't perfect I have a bit of a lifeline to drag myself out of swamp I've let myself trudge through for the last few years. Without getting into any ugly details or personal baggage, I can use this picture to speak the thousand words that can be summed up with by saying that "More often than not, from now on, I'll be home for sunsets".



Friday, February 19, 2016

Week 8: Brevans H.R. Giger [52 Whispers From The Muse]

  Brevans H.R. Giger 

Overall Rating: 3.9
Appearance: 4.5
Louche: 3.5
Aroma: 3.5
Flavor/Mouthfeel: 4.0
Finish: 4.0
Overall: 4.0


Style: Verte        
ABV: 68%   
Country: Switzerland      
Distillery: Matter-Luginbühl     

Appearance: A beautiful, dark moss green, much darker than most other absinthes tho still sparklingly clear.
Louche: Green and golden swirls end in a light white jade.
Aroma: Wormwood and mint, with hints of Alpine breezes. Lovely but withdrawn a bit.
Flavor/Mouthfeel: Richly flavored though not much Anise is present. Delightfully wormwood forward with those hints of mint and a spiciness. It's not unpleasantly a little on the dry/bitter side.
Finish: The flavors roll over the palate in layers until the anise finally comes out at the end and lingers on the back of the tongue.
Overall: A full and unique drink that keeps the Wormwood upfront while maintaining a lush and interestingly pleasant drink.

H.R. Giger was a god among artists. His uniquely disturbing visions molded modern science fiction, horror and my impressionable imagination. I admit that I may be bias because of my associations with his art but I feel that this absinthe captures that dark richness well. It's not sweet but I would expect no less.

While Giger's artwork conjures images of Lovecraft and Aliens, there is also an underlying sense of undeath in his biomechanics. The unnatural sense of life that shouldn't be. It seemed most fitting that while I was shooting the image for this review that the shadows cast on the ceiling of my living room from the lighting conjured the image of a skull looking down on me from between the glass and bottle.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Interlude: Crapsinthe [52 Whispers From The Muse]


This picture above is an example of gullibility, ignorance, and the expense of obsession. I wanted to make this post to expand a little on some things from my last 52 Whispers post of Zufanek's Mead Base Absinthe. In that post I mentioned that "There is no good to be had from a Czech absinthe. I know this based on experience!" This is that experience.

Lured by the mystery and inaccessibility of absinthe, it quickly became something I needed to have for my life to be complete. Like many wannabe budding absintheurs trying to get their hands on the Green Fairy in the early 2000s I was uninformed and easily led astray. At the time most of the results on a web search were less than reliable and full of misinformation. This misinformation was repeated enough by enough sources that it was absorbed by my impressionable seeking mind. In retrospect I feel like if I actually searched for "a historical record of traditional absinthe" other than a "where can I buy a bottle of absinthe to sneak into the States and trip ballz" I would have fared better.

Most of what I initially came across were products from Czech Republic all stating that they have revived this forbidden drink from the clutches of lost history. This all came about sometime after a 2004 vacation in Prague to visit a girl I dated who was living there at the time. The trip was great, Prague was an awesome city, I took some disturbingly good pics of the Sedlec Ossuary, so I was pretty cool with anything Czech Republic. The first product I ordered was "Absinthe King of Spirits Gold is made the old way from carefully selected herbs. 100mg of thujone makes Absinthe King of Spirits Gold as strong as the legitimate, real Absinthes of the 19th century... Order yours today and you will receive your bottle of Absinthe King of Spirits Gold with a 100% delivery guarantee! No custom hassle or any other problems you have to be worried about."

Wow, and they'll sneak it through Customs too! Little did my ignorance realize that actual absinthe was no longer on the Fed's watchlist as by this time already the Feds were already resigned to the fact that absinthe wasn't actually illegal.

Unfortunately it took me a while to learn my lesson. After trying that undrinkable swill I went back to the only source I knew of to buy Absinthe only to order a bottle of Absinthe Original. I was sure that this must be better because "Absinthe Original is made by craftsmen distillers to a secret 200 year old Swiss absinthe recipe and it is said by connoisseurs to compare with the rarest French cognacs. The complex and distinguished taste is rounded up by a well blended herbal mix with pronaunced* taste of wormwood and coriander."

Mmmmm, that sounded wonderful! But even to my untrained nose and tastebuds, I knew there was something dreadfully wrong with this dreadful drink. I knew no Parisians were going to write inspired poetry on the virtues of this ugly, bitter drink**.

There was also the matter of the elusive louche I did read about. The magical opalescence that absinthe takes on as water is applied was still a mystery to me as these and a couple more wastes of money did no such thing. I was disheartened and incomplete. Absinthe was a shit disappointment until some fateful synchronicity after a few years passed.

I remember buying some beer in my local liquor store and a bottle off to the side caught my eye. It was solid black with a pair of cat's eyes and the word "Lucid". If my memory serves me correctly, I instantly snatched up the bottle (actually I think it was a set with a spoon and 2 glasses so whatever willpower I may have had to turn it down was instantly throttled) and went back to the counter. I remember the guy ringing me up and thanking me for "finally buying that fucking bottle that no one ever even looked at".  It was also about this time that I finally came across The Wormwood Society which set me straight and opened up the world of Absinthe to me, renewing and rejuvenating this goddamned obsession that has me looking out over my collection of bottles. Enough different bottles to easily review 1 a week for at least a year.

This picture to the side here is a pic of one of my favorite crapsinthe labels. There is so much wrong with this bottle alone that it serves as a great example of what to avoid. First and foremost is the spelling of "Absinth". Many producers of inauthentic*** Absinthe  use an alternate spelling by leaving the "E" off of the end of the word.

Second, look at the color. Anything that is the color of mouthwash is certain to taste as terrible as it looks. Actually, mouthwash is tastier.

Next, though it's s little hard to see, is that the bottom of the label promotes it's Thujone content. You'll see a lot of that misinformation mentioned at the beginning of this article around the subject of Thujone. Thujone is a chemical present in Wormwood (as well as oregano and sage) that in high concentrations is considered a toxin. It was this chemical that vilified Absinthe and led to its "banning" for nearly 100 years. Modern studies have proven that the concentration of Thujone in traditional Absinthe is well below harmful levels and have no psychoactive effects on the drinker. Apparently it's still fun to promote the myth.

Lastly, thought it's only a personal thing, never trust an Absinthe with an eyeball (Lucid's cats eyes excluded). One of the other brands I suggest avoiding is La Fee who also uses an all seeing eye on their label. The stuff is garbage as well.

Well, there you have it. This was my history with Czech Absinthes before finding some nice, authentic brands and eventually taking a chance on Martin Zufanek. I'm really looking forward to reviewing more of Zufanek's wonderful Absinthes here in the near future.

*Spelling copied and pasted from the website, this typo must've been on that page for nearly a decade now.

** Don't get me wrong, there are some absolutely beautiful bitter drinks, I'll take a Negroni or Eeyore's Requiem over this shit any day.

*** I hate calling it Bohemian or Macerated Absinthe. It would be like calling grape juice and everclear "Wine". It shouldn't even be a category of Absinthe.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Week 7: Mead Base [52 Whispers From The Muse]

Mead Base


Overall Rating: 4.3
Appearance: 4.0
Louche: 4.0
Aroma: 4.5
Flavor/Mouthfeel: 4.5
Finish: 4.5
Overall: 4.5



Style: Verte
ABV: 68%
Country: Czech Republic
Distillery: Zufanek



Appearance: While not green, Mead Base is a beautiful Yellow/Amber which does invoke an image of bright golden honey.
Louche: Some hints of turquoise as the louche is forming but mostly clouds of yellow and white ending in a nice, milky pale yellow.
Aroma: I was happy that a bit of the honey sweetness of the mead was noticeable. Wormwood, Anise and Fennel also came through as well balanced.
Flavor/Mouthfeel: Very flavorful, still with that hint of rich mead undertone. Creamy, full and unique.
Finish: This stays with you for a while and you can take your time to sort through all of it's complexities.
Overall: A really gorgeous drink that finds it's place as a true but not traditional absinthe. A great example of what can be done with knowledge, skill and creativity.

At some point when I was perusing some lovely French and Swiss bottles online, the site I was ordering from announced that this Mead Based Absinthe was available. I was as instantly intrigued by its, well, base of Mead but was also instantly put off seeing that the country of origin was the Czech Republic. I had not heard of Martin Zufanek yet so at this point a desperate, internalized conflict commenced... though it was very short.

A scene opened up in the lowest, busiest depths of my mind as my inner voices came to council. A supercilious, nerdy part of my mind protested with metaphorical clipboard in hand and stated "There is no good to be had from a Czech absinthe. I know this based on experience!" To counter this seemingly infallible argument my hereditary Cossack and my inner Viking both stood up from their feasting tables with sabre and axe in hand respectively, stared at the little nerd over their flanks of meat and overflowing drinking horns and grunted a single syllable, "Mead." This ended the debate so I added a bottle to the order and will praise the distilling prowess of Martin Zufanek of the Czech Republic until I die... probably in an argument about drink.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Sunset Cocktail: H.G. Wells Cocktail

2 oz. Redemption Straight Bourbon
1 oz. Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz. St. George Absinthe
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters

Stir all ingredients in ice and strain into an ice filled rocks glass.

I know I said I was going to repost some old Sunset Cocktail pics from before AND it's way too fucking cold to be out on the deck snapping pics but, well, the sky was pretty and this is one of my favorite drinks.

A few years ago my girlfriend presented me with an exhaustive family tree which unfortunately proved no direct ties to Herbert George. That being said, the tree did present some very colorful characters which I feel like I should find a way to present here. I'm feeling inspired...

Monday, February 8, 2016

Week 6:Absinthe Septante7 [52 Whispers From The Muse]

 Absinthe Septante7

Overall Rating: 3.9
Appearance: 3.5
Louche: 4.0
Aroma: 4.0
Flavor/Mouthfeel: 4.0
Finish: 3.5
Overall: 4.0


Style: Blanche/Bleue       
ABV: 77%
Country: Switzerland       
Distillery: Absinthe Bovet La Valote    

Appearance: While it is very clean and crystal clear I was thinking I'd have to rate this only a 3 or so for having the slightest bit of a green tint. I do find it a bit alluring so it made it to a 3.5.
Louche: Active rolls and layers having a slight blue tinting that ends in a milk white. Slow but consistent.
Aroma: Very fresh and open aroma that spreads through the room. Definitely Fennel forward with subdued Anise.
Flavor/Mouthfeel: Much milder than I expected a 154 proof drink to be even at 1 part to 3-4 parts of water. Subdued in the sense that there is nothing that punches you in the face but it does delight with earthy undertones.
Finish: Fennel and earthiness stays with you but not for long. There is a decent amount of tongue numbing which I expected from something this high of proof even though the Anise seems low.
Overall: A very pleasant drink, Laid back despite the 77% alcohol content unless I'm just getting that desensitized to high alcohol content (gods save my liver).

I'd recommend Sepante7 to someone who doesn't like Anise forward Absinthes. What is most noticeable about this is that while the Anise is present, it sits way in the back, just enough to let you know it's there. What makes it most interesting is that it's both subtle and complex. Subtle in the fact that it doesn't overwhelm you with a bomb of flavor but complex in the way that the flavors are a little unexpected and travel down your taste buds.

I wanted to do this one since there didn't seem to be many other reviews of this online. This is another I won't drink that often as it's a little more difficult to replace and will probably take a back seat to other brands. That being said, I've only had three glasses of this since I first bought it and it's uniqueness to all the other brands I have may make it more desirable to keep on hand. This is the only Absinthe I have from Bovet at the time of writing but I may try to get my hands on more.