The salutation “What’s your poison?” is thought to reference the trial of Dr. William Palmer, the infamous doctor/murderer of Staffordshire in the mid 1800’s. The good doctor allegedly poisoned his mother-in-law, wife, several of his children (legitimate and not) and a few other folks who got in his way. His crimes were so notorious that thirty thousand folks attended the hanging, many stood all night in the pouring rain to assure front row spot. Souvenir ballads and pieces of rope sold quickly to the crowd.
 
In reference to the first four brands of absinthe available in the US, we paraphrase “What’s your potion?” Four lovely ladies of taste are lined up for your pleasure. Each one offers her own charms, from delicate, sweet flavors to exotic and intense.  Read on to find your potion.

 

Le Tourment Vert
 
She navigates your taste buds with cool sophistication and soft-spoken elegance. Dressed in pale blue with a mint stole, she delivers sweet anise in whispered tones coolly wrapped in wintergreen.
 
Color: pale sapphire
 
Louche: Slight opalescence, blue/white
 
Nose: Soft, cooling anise
 
Notes: Delicate flavors, sweet anise cools the mouth with a light mint finish. Light, refreshing, sophisticated, not bitter. The simplicity is balanced by the clear, bright flavor that rings through to a lasting finish. May be too delicate to mix with other liquors.


 
Kubler
 
Heady and sweet, she’s like a trip down candy lane with pure Good & Plenty licorice, sugar coated to please. No bitter after taste, but perhaps a ghost of citrus and a warm finish on the tongue. Choo-Choo Charlie says “love my good & plenty! Really rings my bell!”
 
Color: Clear
 
Louche:  Medium, milky white to pale blue
 
Nose: licorice/star anise
 
Flavor: Rich, strong and sweet. Star anise with a hint of citrus and warm spice at the finish. The full, soft flavor and lack of bitterness will be a plus for some, but a loss for others who crave more complex flavors.
 

 

St George
 
A pale blonde vixen with her bitter edge charmingly wrapped in sweet fennel and anise with a soft lemon highlight. She will break your heart and you will love it.
 
Color: Olive green and gold
 
Louche: Medium, yellow/green clouds, slightly transparent
 
Nose: Warming balance of herb and exotic spice.
 
Flavors: A more complex balance of bitter herbs wrapped in sweet fennel and anise, graced with a gentle lemon highlight. The bitter, sweet and citrus flavors mingle, without mixing, allowing for a complex variety of flavors. 


 

Lucid
 
A lady of distinction and single-minded intent, her silver gown matches the steel of her eyes and confident, dry wit graced with a gentle smile at the end.
 
Color: clear
 
Louche: Medium white, opalescent
 
Nose: Restrained
 
A steely blend of wormwood and anise, tightly wound. The bitter edge is prominent but held in check by the dry anise. Slowly aromas of soft flowers and sweet herbs rise like delicate consorts to the earthy base. Medium bodied and balanced, increased sugar softens the dry body but still may leave some palates reaching for more complexity.


Article and reviews by Rebecca Dietz