THE ONE-TIME FORBIDDEN DRINK COMES TO ADAMS MORGAN
Absinthe, the alcoholic beverage steeped in legend and myth, has found a home at The Black Squirrel after U.S. regulators lifted the 95-year-old ban in 2007.
The licorice-flavored liquid was incredibly popular among 19th-century European artists, notably Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh, who extolled the creative property of the beverage and put it to canvas.
The 136-proof drink eventually succumbed to its wild and crazy image, plus the erroneous claim that it produced hallucinations, and was banned in the U.S. in 1912.
Absinthe consumption is steeped in ritual. The Black Squirrel serves absinthe in the following manner: An ounce of absinthe is poured into a glass. An absinthe spoon carrying a cube of sugar is placed over the glass. Another half ounce of absinthe is poured over the spoon carrying the sugar. Icy water then drips onto the spoon and melts the sugar to complete the concoction dubbed the green fairy.
The Black Squirrel carries five brands of absinthe:
- Pernod Fils – Once the most popular brand of absinthe until it was banned in 1915, Pernod Fils has returned after a 92-year absence. Made in a tradition that dates back to 1790, Pernod packs a wallop at 136 proof, or nearly 75 percent alcohol.
- Kubler – Distilled in Val-de-Travers , Switzerland , the birthplace of absinthe. Kubler contains grand wormwood (thujone) at 10 parts per million—the highest level allowed by law.
- St. George – The American version of the classic distilled with organic wormwood. This 120-proof spirit is made in small batches and includes brandy and an array of fine herbs, making it one of the most drinkable absinthes available.
- Leopold Brothers Verte – Following the nearly forgotten traditions of 19th-century master distillers, this Denver-based operation starts with grape spirit and grande wormwood. It then adds fennel, anise and of number of proprietary botanicals before distilling them in a hand-hammered copper pot still.
- Lucid – Formulated by world renowned absinthe expert T.A. Breaux and distilled in strict accordance to traditional French methods. Unlike some imitators, Lucid is distilled entirely from spirits and European herbs, and uses no artificial additives, oils, or dyes.