Pernod Absinthe was relaunched a few years ago, complying with the legislation of the time, as Pernod aux Extraits de Plantes d’Absinthe. It was said to be “inspired” by the original Pernod Absinthe recipe – this lead to some discussion, certainly amongst my customers, as to how authentic it was and as to whether it was a “proper” Absinthe. The Pernod aux Extraits de Plantes d’Absinthe was based upon a nineteenth century Swiss recipe.
In October 2013 Pernod announced a return to their original recipe with the release of the Pernod Absinthe Recette Traditionnelle (traditional recipe). This meant that there was a move away from the grain based spirits used previously and a return to a grape brandy (un-aged brandy or eau de vie) from the Languedoc region in the South of France. The wormwood, one of the key ingredients, is sourced from Pontarlier, a commune in the Franche-Comté region near the Swiss border in eastern France. It was at Pontarliet that a young Henri-Louis Pernod founded the first commercial Absinthe distiller in 1805. The colour is now completely natural, previously a green dye was added, and any green colouring derives from the natural herbs used the chlorophyll they contain. The use of traditional methods, grape spirit, careful maceration of a secret recipe of aromatic herbs and plants brings a subtlety and complexity to the final product that many other Absinthes simply don’t have. The release of the new recipe was concurrent with the renovation and opening of Pernod’s new distillery in the historic Maison Pernod at Thuir, near Perpignan in the South of France.
Pernod Absinthe Recette Traditionnelle is available at Fareham Wine Cellar.
There is still the romantic, traditional image of Absinthe and its supposed psychedelic effect produced by thujone, a chemical in wormwood, which was so beloved by Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec et al. Most people will vaguely know about the traditional the method of serving. In the French method, a special, metal Absinthe spoon would be placed over the top of a glass of Absinthe and a sugar cube placed on it. Water would then be poured into the glass over the sugar cube and the water would slowly dissolve the sugar cube into the drink. The ratio of water to Absinthe should be around 3 to 5 parts to 1. The Bohemian method (now the Czech Republic) involves putting a sugar cube soaked in Absinthe on the Absinthe spoon setting fire to it, allowing it to caramelise a little, and then dropping it into the glass igniting the Absinthe. This would then be put out by the addition of water.
On the addition of water, Pernod Absinthe, like Anise based drinks such as Pastis, Ouzo or Raki, goes cloudy on the addition. This milky, cloudy opalescence is known as the louche. You read more about at my blog post about Ouzo Pelagos. However, today Absinthe is more and more used as a cocktail ingredient. One can find plenty of cocktail recipes such as Death in the Afternoon and The Green Beast at the Pernod Absinthe website. Along with Peychard’s Aromatic Bitters, it is also an essential ingredient in the Rye based Sazerac.
From the Pernod Absinthe website, for all the Hemingway fans, developed by the man himself,
Death in the Afternoon Cocktail
30ml Pernod Absinthe
1 Lemon Peel
Pour the ingredients and chilled Champagne into a chilled Champagne glass and garnish with the lemon peel.