From Inside The Green

I’m writing this entry after having worked through two bottles of Mansinthe, a bottle and a half of Kubler 53, a bottle each of Lemercier 72 and La Fee Parisian, a handful of glasses of Duplais Verte, and a lone, muddy louche of Jacques Senaux Black.

Needless to say, this wasn’t in a single evening.

It’s been a few months now since I had my first taste of Mansinthe, but the details of the event are still clear to me. Matter of fact, I’m sipping the last glass from my second bottle as I write this, and Marilyn Manson’s particular version of la fee verte is doing a decent job of jogging my memory.

When we last left my intrepid adventures into the world of absinthism, I was riding my bicycle home with the bottle, glasses, spoon and sugar cubes stowed away in my backpack. Thankfully, Crumpler makes excellent storage equipment, so I arrived home without incident.

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I scoffed down some dinner and waited until the night was quiet except for a few intermittent revellers in my street that sang too loudly or argued about who loved who or who didn’t. I’d duplicated my setup at home in preparation for the absinthe event, with iced tea jug in the fridge filled with filtered water. I poured my shot worth of emerald liquid, rested my Etoilles spoon with all those stars on top. Supported my pouring arm with my other hand and did my best to keep a slow drip going.

The butter chicken and garlic naan from earlier in the evening still lingered on my palate, but swirling the cold, pale Mansinthe around my mouth did a quick job of clearing my taste buds. The drink already tasted better. Maybe my tongue or the brain cells allocated to taste had already been reprogrammed. Maybe the air I’d let into the bottle had done some work on the herbal molecules within. I’m not sure how, but this absinthe, this Mansinthe, tasted damned good.

I had an idea that three glasses over an evening would be a good amount to work with, just enough to taste the drink in all its facets and experience its effects without consequence.

Drink one. I took it slow, about twenty minutes in total. The flavours and the cold water encouraged me to take small gulps, enough to fill my mouth and let the drink tickle my teeth and tongue on the way down. With enough food in my belly, I didn’t feel the heaviness of the alcohol affecting me, but I did feel a certain clarity of vision and a relaxing of the cares of the day.

Drink two. The alcohol sent its tendrils out into my bloodstream, but it also heightened my vision. Not a hallucination, no green fairies, but a subtle increase in the intensity of colours and an improvement to my night vision. Did absinthe have a high concentration of vitamin D? Or was it a placebo effect? I wasn’t sure, but rather than research further, I felt it was better to have another glass.

Drink three. My plan for having one glass an hour went out the window. I was enjoying the flavours and the sensations too much. But I needed a change of scene, an external stimulus to use as a tool for testing my perceptions. Television proved to be my answer, in the form of a DVD of The Wire, perhaps the most realistic and well written crime drama ever to hit the small screen.

The Wire is a show that rewards concentration and attention. Every word and action is important and contributes to your understanding of the character or the story. With my attention span lessened by the 66.6% alcohol, I realised I wasn’t having a proper Wire experience, so I decided to experiment instead.

With drink four quickly louched and on the coffee table, I fired up my laptop and opened a blank document. White screen in front of me, I let the show continue in the background while I wrote my impressions of it. After all, absinthe was supposed to be the great artist’s drink, so why shouldn’t I take advantage of its creative benefits?

As a writer, one of the first things you learn is to guard your writing. To hide it from public view until it has been worked into shape. In my efforts to show my dear readers the absinthe experience from within, I will risk my writer’s reputation by quoting an unedited sample from this, my very first night of absinthe imbibing:

Shot glasses line the bar and the blues swings like treacle through the background noise of the crowd. Smoke curls, the hands of it separating into fingers that don’t beckon to anyone as they dissipate. The rhythm of the conversation changes. From high energy laughter at drunken jokes, it settles down into a serious moment. Time is spoken of. They pause, but the silence is too much for them in their drunken state and they laugh again and the rhythm gets a backbeat and the guitar begins to wail.

This was written while watching a scene where a few cops had finished their shifts and met at the local bar. I have no idea what they were talking about. It’s rough, as well as more poetic and more embarrassingly purple than my usual work. Fingers that don’t beckon to anyone? Swings like treacle? Doesn’t make a lot of sense, but at least a rhythm is there.

Fifth glass of absinthe in hand, I kept at the experiment, but I won’t quote any more, other than to say I’d left myself a note to try a Bloody Mary with absinthe and call it a Bloody Fairy. I’ll write off my first experiment with writing on absinthe as revealing but ultimately a dud.

My previous entry promised to detail my experiences with Pernod as an absinthe substitute, and my night time adventures trying to find absinthe in the bars of Sydney; but I felt it was important to relate my first experience of drinking absinthe in as much detail as possible, to let you feel it from the inside. Conveniently, I have enough material for my next article, so look forward to that in the near future.

Daniel Hatadi May 7th 2008 05:14 pm Absinthe-Minded Journal No Comments yet Trackback URI

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