Thursday, January 28, 2010
Day 28 Drink: Vieux Carre Absinthe Superieure
Vieux Carre Absinthe Superieure is named for what New Orleans locals call the French Quarter. The spirit is made at Philadelphia Distilling using grande wormwood, petite wormwood, fennel doux provence, green and star anise, melissa, genepi, hyssop and spearmint. Robert Cassell, the master distiller behind Vieux Carre, got his start in the brewing industry, having spent time at Harpoon, Victory and River City Ale Works.
Absinthe is a liquor that has quite a bit of myth and mystery built around it. It was hugely popular in Paris during the late 1800s and early part of the last century. It ended up being banned for many years in the U.S. and some other countries because it was alleged to have psychoactive properties. Prohibitionists also charged absinthe could even cause a number of deadly illness. None of this was true, but the drink's negative perception spread quickly. The high proof and unchecked consumption of the day built absinthe's reputation.
Many absinthe makers suggest serving the spirit using a process where water is dripped through a sugar cube and into a glass with absinthe. Philadelphia Distilling, in addition to offering up some cocktail recipes, urges you skip the sugar cube and instead cut it either 3:1 or 4:1 with water. I sampled it straight to get the flavor essence and then cut it with water.
In its pure form the anise nose is strong and nearly overpowering. The light green color is bright and inviting. The 120 proof spirit is quite warming, but there is also a bunch of additional flavors. The anise is up front, but plenty of sweet and candy notes emerge.
Mixed with water, the color clouds and turns slightly milky. The anise still dominates the nose, but the flavor mellows quite a bit. There are still some background notes to the anise and it feels like the spearmint comes a bit more to the front.