Given a bad reputation, Absinthe has often been portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug and hallucinogen. This was because of competition with wine and other spirits. This article looks at a place that used to be open on Royal Street. Still Absinthe is a great spirit, even though this location has closed.
Winding down a fun Friday night in the French Quarter, our little posse was headed back to our respective lodgings with all the best intentions. At least until we happened by Pravda, a Decatur Street bar. Someone mentioned Absinthe, someone else mentioned it was legal again, someone else wanted to try it and before you know it we were sitting watching the bartender prepare this glass dispenser with spouts around the sides. Water was dripped from the spouts over sugar cubes into reservoir glasses of spirits and then set on fire. It was really cool to watch but since licorice is not one of my favs, I didn’t particularly care for the taste. The peculiar, mysterious story of Absinthe on the other hand had me very curious.
So where do you go to find the truth about Absinthe? To the Absinthe Museum of America on Royal Street, of course. First of all, I found out you don’t burn good Absinthe. Burning is done with inferior Absinthe to burn off impurities and for effect. Second, you are supposed to see a green fairy. Would I lie to you? See for yourself. The Royal Street Absinthe Museum is a really interesting place with even more interesting people. People like Ted Breaux. Okay, I know you are thinking what can a New Orleans, Louisiana native, with a name like Breaux possibly know about a drink that was distilled mostly in France in the 18 and early 1900’s. How about everything or at least everything you could possibly want to know.
You see, Ted is guy after my own heart. Curious. (or nosy, take your pick). What made Absinthe illegal in the first place? Did people really go crazy after drinking it? Long story short, a chemical engineer with the tools to reverse engineer pre-ban bottles of Absinthe available to him Ted went to work. Not only did he find out what went in to making Absinthe, but how to do it the right way and that there was no real reason to make it illegal. Thanks to Ted’s efforts Lucid Absinthe Supérieure was the first genuine absinthe made with real Grande Wormwood to be legally available in the United States in 95 years.
Ted is now a world renowned absinthe expert and distills in strict accordance to traditional French methods. Lucid is crafted in the historic Combier distillery, founded in 1834, and designed by Gustave Eiffel in the fabled Loire Valley of France. Lucid is distilled entirely from spirits and European whole herbs, and like traditional authentic absinthe, uses no artificial additives, oils, or dyes. Lucid is a versatile spirit ideal for use in both traditional and modern absinthe drinking methods.
Visit Ted and friends at the Absinthe Museum of America at 823 Rue Royal and find out more about this unique drink that was all the rage. Try to catch one of Ted’s lectures and get “the rest of the story”. The museum also offers scheduled tastings of the real thing. The lectures are great. Get a more knowledgeable, in depth view of the history of Absinthe, you won’t regret it. Of course, the cocktails are pretty tasty too.
By Sharon Denise Talbot