Absinthe is not an easy spirit to understand, we get that. For many, it exists more in myth than anywhere else. You may have heard it drove a number of artistic folks crazy because of the hallucinatory properties, or you know that there are a few different ways to drink it, but you don’t know exactly what they are. If you’re in either camp (or you just came upon this because March 5 is National Absinthe Day and you’ve never been so much as in the same room as a bottle of the spirit), check out this guide on how to fully appreciate absinthe first.
If you’re here because you’re looking to expand your knowledge of absinthe by trying a few different varieties that are available in the U.S. — thujone-sing for some, you might say (sorry not sorry).—.then carry on, intrepid reader, as we’ve got some goodies in store for you.
(If you didn’t get the thujone joke above, we also suggest going back to the guide for a quick look-see.)
While the absinthes below all share some commonalities (the typical absinthe botanicals — wormwood, fennel, and star anise — being one of them), each takes a slightly different interpretation of the spirit. From the base spirit to the other herbs added to the amount of time those herbs are cooked, each is a little different in its approach.
Never tried a white absinthe (absinthe blanche)? Great, we’ve got one for you. Didn’t know that St. George Spirits produced the first legal absinthe after the ban was lifted? Now seems like a great time to check out a piece of American spirits history.
Whatever you’re looking for in an absinthe, these four spirits below are a great place to start expanding your knowledge (and palate)!
The first legal absinthe made in the U.S. since the ban was lifted (in 2007) also happens to be one of the best. Eleven years in the making (you could distill absinthe before the ban, just not sell it), this absinthe bursts with herbal flavors without being overwhelming (as far as absinthe goes, considering the ABV on most absinthes).
Copper & Kings’ white absinthe is made from a Muscat brandy base and double-distilled before being diluted slightly before bottling to bring out the nose and palate. It’s also the only blanche absinthe on this list; you can check out our full review here.
Following the lead of 19th century European distillers, Leopold Brothers Absinthe Verte starts with an imported Chilean pisco base to which the traditional absinthe botanicals are added. Following distillation, the spirit is colored using natural ingredients such as lemon balm and hyssop to produce the verdant glow.
Chances are if your local shop or bar sells absinthe, Pernod will be on the menu — this is one of the most prominent names when it comes to absinthe. Based on a recipe and a distilling process perfected by Henri-Louis Pernod in 1805, this bottle is hard to beat if you’re looking for something that hearkens back to the original absinthe era.