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It's Not Easy Being Green
Is Czech absinthe improving? It certainly can't get any worse. As the Czechs never had the ban on the green liquor that swept across the rest of Europe and the U.S. at the beginning of the 1900s, quite a few manufactures tried to cash in on the name during the 90s with kitschy brands. What they distilled was hardly authentic absinthe--hence the term Czechsinthe--it was closer to a green Windex. And that's being kind to the flavors involved.
Czech absinthes are heavy on wormwood, which was the ingredient that many thought caused absinthe's hallucinogenic properties; recent studies have shown that not be the case. Which is a pity, since beyond the purported visions, all wormwood adds is a bitter flavor.
It's not all bad. Toulouse Lautrec Absinthe is the best of the new bunch of Czech absinthes. It's not made in the classic old style, which was the subject of a recent New Yorker article, and is near impossible to do successfully, but the "flavor profile" is a close as Czech absinthes get. So the next time you're in Prague and absinthe is what everyone asked for you to bring home, that's the one you should grab at the Duty- Free. Cheers.
[Image via Sevensven/Flickr]
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