March 07, 2008

Green Fairy in Worcester: Absinthe Now Available Here

Who says Worcester isn't on the cutting edge? I've just learned this morning that absinthe, the fabled potion made from wormwood credited with inspiring everything from the genius of Picasso to the madness of Van Gogh, is available at two bars in the area. The Sole Proprietor right in town, as well as the Old Timer in Clinton, are selling it. It isn't cheap; $10 a glass at the Sole Proprietor and $9 at the Old Timer, but it's worth it just for the novelty. The stuff was illegal in the US until just last year.

Not that it stopped me from getting my hands on it. I knew two sources in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I've tried a couple of homemade versions in the past. In one case, I even tried uncut Artemisia extract, which was so bitter that I spent the next ten minutes making a noise something like a lovesick duck with a sore throat. Still, absinthe isn't bad when it's been properly prepared, and I'm sure the stuff they're selling here is better than the homebrews I've had.

The Green Fairy
Storied, once-banned absinthe catches on locally

Since last November, the drink list at the Sole Proprietor restaurant in Worcester has included a libation called “The Green Fairy.” If drinks could talk, what a tale the fairy would tell, providing she could remember the next morning.

Absinthe, the often emerald colored, highly potent spirit, banned for most of the 20th century in Europe and until 2007 in the United States for supposed madness-inducing properties, was called The Green Fairy by its devoted touts, whose number included so many artists and writers that absinthe’s nom de plume became the Green Muse...

"We don’t allow our customers to have more than two," said Nichols Quinn, night manager at the Sole on Highland Street.

"Absinthe is not a shot,” said Brian McNally, proprietor of the Old Timer in Clinton, which added the drink to its bar late last year. “No one is going to sit down and wax ’em back..."

Typically the alcohol content of consumer hard liquors ranges from 80 to 100 proof. The Swiss Kubler brand absinthe sold at the Sole is 106 proof. The Old Timer carries Kubler and a French brand, Lucid Superieure, which is 124 proof...

At the Old Timer, absinthe goes for $9 per drink. At the Sole, the price is $9.99...
At $10 a pop, I don't think many customers — even at the Sole Proprietor — are likely to want more than two. Still, I'm going to have to get myself over there one of these days. I'm not fond enough of absinthe to make it a regular thing, especially not at that price, but it's worth it just to be able to say, "I've drunk absinthe in Worcester." I'd imagine very few people can say that, and somehow I don't think all that many ever will.

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