Friday, May 16, 2008

fortuitous absinthe tasting at garnet wines

last night, when i came out of the 69th street station of the lexington avenue line, i was pleasantly surprised to see garnet wines and liquors advertising a tasting of le torment verte (the "green torment") absinthe from the distillery vinet ege (located in the cognac region of france)! as anyone familiar with degas painting of l'absinthe drinkers on the adjacent side panel could guess, that sign would certainly grab my attention!

i went inside and was offered a taste on the rocks! the representative insisted that the taste was so good that i should try it first, undiluted! it wasn't the taste the worried me; it was the 100 proof that i wanted to dilute. but it was game, and said "why not?" before i even tasted it, the first impression that hit me was it's almost aquamarine blue color! hardly the light green hue that i had expected to be poured from the bottle.

second, the taste was minty, and herbal, as said it would be - but hardly tasted like absinthe (and nothing at all like the absenthe (either the american or european version) that i drink). i told him that i though i didn't have that "traditional" taste and he admitted that the distiller had "rounded off" the rough edges. then he offered up the traditional version, diluted with water poured over sugar cubes. it had been sweet enough straight up, but the combination of extra water and sugar didn't really overpower it as i thought it might.

i enjoyed both version very much - each was different from what i had expected. i certainly wouldn't consider le tourment vert a traditional absinthe - and wouldn't recommend it to someone looking for that rough anise flavor in a pale green liquid. but it was a pleasant enough tasting liquor to enjoy in it's own right as an after-dinner drink.

now i just had to contend with the effects of two shots of the green torment as i made my way over to central park for an early evening 5k race!

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