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Absinthe has an awful reputation. Most people still think it's drunk as shots, some even set fire to it. In fact it's a delicious and elegant drink mixed with ice-cold water and sometimes sweetened. It's very refreshing.
La Fee is the easiest absinthe to get hold of. Many supermarkets sell it and it's a reasonable enough price. It has a rather unpleasantly bright green colour which looks artificial, and which you don't see in more expensive brands. When mixed it has a nice milky colour, very pale. The flavour is slightly harsh and bitter, but it is recognisable as absinthe. It has a strong aniseed flavour.
There are absinthes of much better quality for a little more money. If you really want to try the best absinthes have a look at Jade - their 1901 and Edouard absinthes are excellent.
La Fee is the lower end of the decent absinthes, not a bad drink but you could do better. If i can't get anything else I buy this, but it is usually saved for cocktails.
I have been fascinated by Absinthe ever since I was a teenager. I kept seeing it in films and reading about it in books but had never actually tasted it or even seen it in the flesh and then when I found out that Absinthe had been banned all around the world (though bizarrely never the UK) this just further piqued my curiosity about the drink that they call 'The Green Fairy'. It wasn't until I was nineteen that I tried Absinthe for the first time and although that first taste didn't inspire me to cut my ear off (as the rumour about Van Gogh goes) it did give me an appreciation of the liquor that carries on today.
Today I still like Absinthe even if it is more the romanticism and theatricality of it than the actual taste. I have special Absinthe glasses and spoons which I like to bring out if I have people over especially those that have never tried it before.
My favourite make of Absinthe is a brand called La Fee Parisienne and apparently it is the most authentic commercially produced Absinthe that you can buy and it is made using a traditional 19th century recipe and bottled in Paris.
For the uninitiated the reason that Absinthe was banned for so many years in so many countries had to do with a variety of reasons. The main one being that it was presumed dangerous and capable of causing hallucinations etc. It is true that authentic Absinthe contains Wormwood and also thujone which is a natural hallucinogenic alongside a selection of other herbs but the quantities are so small that it is unlikely that it will cause anything like the reactions that you see in films such as Moulin Rouge. It is much more likely that the cause of any hallucinations to do with Absinthe is the fact that it has a very strong alcohol content in it which is more than most people will be used to which in turn of course will get you much drunker much more quickly if you drink it in quantities that you might be used to with other spirits such as vodka and gin.
La Fee Absinthe comes with the personal recommendation of Marie-Claude Delahaye who is the founder of the Absinthe Museum in Paris. She has apparently endorsed only this Absinthe as in her opinion it is the only modern Absinthe that comes close to matching the original Absinthes of the 19th and 20th centuries.
I personally love the design of the bottle of La Fee Absinthe as it has a really authentic bohemian vibe to it. The bottle itself is made of clear glass and it has a big green eye staring out the middle of the label. The best thing about the bottle though is that you can see the green Absinthe through it. This is how proper Absinthe should look. It is a really rich emerald green colour and not too artificial looking unlike some other cheap Absinthes that you can buy in holiday resorts which can look like lime cordial.
The correct way to serve absinthe is to pour a measure into a glass and then using an Absinthe spoon place a sugar cube on top of it and then slowly pour some ice cold water through the sugar cube. This then activates the louche which is the name given to the swirly cloudy effect that Absinthe gets. I have had some Absinthe before that barely gets this milky effect but with La Fee it is really noticeable and the cloudiness is one that looks like a lime green milky effect. Apparently doing it this way is supposed to release all the herbs and essential oils that are used to make Absinthe but whatever the reasons it looks really cool and is the traditional way to serve it. Make sure that you do drip the water though instead of just pouring it in as this makes a real difference.
I am not going to lie and say that Absinthe is lovely tasting because it isn't. I see some people drink it as shots and I can't for the life of me understand why as undiluted it is like firewater and is so strong and bitter. For me personally it is unpalatable when drunk neat and the water and sugar cube not only have a symbolic part to play in the serving of Absinthe but it also dilutes the taste somewhat. It is still strong but drinkable that way and once you get used to the strong taste you can actually appreciate the difference between this and other spirits. La Fee Absinthe for example has a really strong herbal quality to it which comes through the taste of the alcohol as does the taste of aniseed.
Obviously La Fee Absinthe isn't going to appeal to everyone because of the strong and distinctive taste of it. I personally love the whole drama behind serving it traditionally but obviously I wouldn't bother doing this for myself and it only really comes out on special occasions and at parties and it wouldn't be my drink of choice at a bar or nightclub.
This is also one drink that the old saying of be careful with how much you drink really applies as it contains an ABV of 68% so it is almost twice the strength of other spirits that you can buy. A couple of glasses of this is usually enough to have me absolutely on my face so I usually try and stick to only having one glass on any one evening. The times that I have exceeded this I have ended up really drunk not to mention very hungover the next morning.
For me La Fee Absinthe is about more than just buying a bottle of something to get drunk. It might not be that old as a brand but the recipe is traditional and there is a real theatricality to drinking this. Of course you could just down it to get drunk quickly but there are cheaper ways of doing that as sells for around about £42 a bottle. Yes it is expensive but it is high quality and much better than cheaper Absinthe which is trying to be authentic but failing miserably at it. Although expensive you can be assured of a high quality product and one that has won numerous industry awards since it was first produced.
"La Fee Absinthe was awarded a Silver Medal in the International Spirits Challenge 2003. Free absinthe spoon worth £4.99 with every bottle. The original French absinthe, La Fee Parisienne is a premium distilled absinthe bottled in Paris according to a 19th century recipe containing Wormwood (Artemesia absinthium) and other aromatic herbs. It's the only absinthe endorsed by Marie-Claude Delahaye, founder & curator of the Absinthe Museum in France, making it the most authentic in the world. Like true French absinthe it has a dark green colour, rich bouquet of aniseed flavour and louches (turns cloudy with the addition of water) beautifully."