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Old 04-30-2008, 11:30 AM
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Absinthe's Mind-Altering Mystery Solved

I can't see the word Absinthe without thinking of Carleton.

Absinthe's Mind-Altering Mystery Solved

Charles Q. Choi
LiveScience.com
Tue Apr 29, 1:40 PM ET

An analysis of century-old bottles of absinthe - the kind once quaffed by the likes of van Gogh and Picasso to enhance their creativity - may end the controversy over what ingredient caused the green liqueur’s supposed mind-altering effects. The culprit seems plain and simple: The century-old absinthe contained about 70 percent alcohol, giving it a 140-proof kick. In comparison, most gins, vodkas and whiskeys are just 80- to 100-proof.

In recent years, the psychedelic nature of absinthe has been hotly debated. Absinthe was notorious among 19th-century and early 20th-century bohemian artists as "the Green Fairy" that expanded the mind. After it became infamous for madness and toxic side effects among drinkers, it was widely banned.

The modern scientific consensus is that absinthe’s reputation could simply be traced back to alcoholism, or perhaps toxic compounds that leaked in during faulty distillation. Still, others have pointed at a chemical named thujone in wormwood, one of the herbs used to prepare absinthe and the one that gives the drink its green color. Thujone was blamed for "absinthe madness" and "absinthism," a collection of symptoms including hallucinations, facial tics, numbness and dementia.

Prior studies suggested that absinthe had only trace levels of thujone. But critics claimed that absinthe made before it got banned in France in 1915 had much higher levels of thujone than modern absinthe produced since 1988, when the European Union lifted the ban on making absinthe.

"Today it seems a substantial minority of consumers want these myths to be true, even if there is no empirical evidence that they are," said researcher Dirk Lachenmeier, a chemist with the Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Laboratory of Karlsruhe in Germany.

Lachenmeier and his colleagues analyzed 13 samples of absinthe from old, sealed bottles in France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and the United States dated back to the early 1900s before the ban. After uncorking the bottles, they found relatively small concentrations of thujone in that absinthe, about the same as those in modern varieties.

Laboratory tests found no other compound that could explain absinthe’s effects. "All things considered, nothing besides ethanol was found in the absinthes that was able to explain the syndrome of absinthism," Lachenmeier said. (Ethanol is a word for common drinking alcohol.)

The scientists are set to detail their findings in the May 14 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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Old 04-30-2008, 11:38 AM
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Interesting ... I also read somewhere that the copper vessels they were using in making the absinthe were contaminating it and causing toxic effects on regular drinkers.

When my wife and I went to the Dominican Republic we visited the Christopher Columbus Light House. We learned that his son died from the toxic effects of using copper cooking vessels.
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Old 04-30-2008, 12:39 PM
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There are some receipes on the internet that call for the use of white lightning when making absinthe. carleton needs to chim in on this one. I also heard they are making it legally now but i doubt its as strong.
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Old 04-30-2008, 01:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mistress View Post
There are some receipes on the internet that call for the use of white lightning when making absinthe. carleton needs to chim in on this one. I also heard they are making it legally now but i doubt its as strong.
I saw a real interesting segment on Modern Marvels about distilling various hard liquors. One former scientist reverse engineered a recipe from a centuries old bottle in order to produce it again. He did a lot of research and determined a lot of the horror stories were a result of some unscrupulous distillers who used to add some addictive ingredients to hook the drinker or just downright poisonous stuff, ostensibly to give it more of a kick. It appears to be set for a comeback to the masses with fairly strict controls. I'm kind of fascinated by it more than anything, my wife is a big Sambuco and Anisette fan so I'm sure she'd love the stuff.
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Old 04-30-2008, 02:34 PM
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you know that drinking absinthe and riding a motorcycle is easily detected by law enforcement?

Absinthe makes the farts go, "Honda!"
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Old 04-30-2008, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Botnst View Post
you know that drinking absinthe and riding a motorcycle is easily detected by law enforcement?

Absinthe makes the farts go, "Honda!"
At the risk of sounding dense ... what do you mean?

I mean I think a fart joke is just as funny as the next guy, but ...
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Old 04-30-2008, 03:08 PM
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There is quite a disputed art to how it should be consumed. I like the cruet that hold the sugar cube.
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Old 04-30-2008, 03:11 PM
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Absinthe has many impurities! Bad for you to drink!

Fusel oil contaminants:

A mixture of organic acids, higher alcohols (propyl, butyl, and amyl), aldehydes, and esters, known collectively as congeners, produced in alcoholic fermentation.

It is present in low concentration in wines and beer, and in high concentration in pot-still spirit. On maturation of the liquor fusel oil changes and imparts the special flavour to the spirit. Many of the symptoms of hangover can be attributed to fusel oil in alcoholic beverages. Can cause acute illness, including headaches, nausea, vomiting, clinical depression, or coma.

Columbia Encyclopedia: fusel oil

(fyū'zəl) , oily, colorless liquid with a disagreeable odor and taste. It is a mixture of alcohols (largely amyl alcohols) and fatty acids, formed during the alcoholic fermentation of organic materials. After imperfect distillation of these fermentation products it becomes an impurity in the distilled liquor. Fusel oil is used as a solvent in the manufacture of certain lacquers and enamels (it dissolves nitrocellulose). It has a detrimental effect on the human system.
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Old 04-30-2008, 03:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TX76513 View Post
There is quite a disputed art to how it should be consumed. I like the cruet that hold the sugar cube.
I think those multi tap water drippers are cool too. I just use a martini shaker.
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Old 04-30-2008, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SwampYankee View Post
I saw a real interesting segment on Modern Marvels about distilling various hard liquors. One former scientist reverse engineered a recipe from a centuries old bottle in order to produce it again. He did a lot of research and determined a lot of the horror stories were a result of some unscrupulous distillers who used to add some addictive ingredients to hook the drinker or just downright poisonous stuff, ostensibly to give it more of a kick. It appears to be set for a comeback to the masses with fairly strict controls. I'm kind of fascinated by it more than anything, my wife is a big Sambuco and Anisette fan so I'm sure she'd love the stuff.
Did you just say ostensibly?
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Old 04-30-2008, 03:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad300tdt View Post
At the risk of sounding dense ... what do you mean?

I mean I think a fart joke is just as funny as the next guy, but ...
The original saying is :Absence makes the heart grow fonder." Bot said Absinthe makes the fart grow Honda.
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Old 04-30-2008, 03:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Idolotor View Post
Absinthe has many impurities! Bad for you to drink!

Fusel oil contaminants:

A mixture of organic acids, higher alcohols (propyl, butyl, and amyl), aldehydes, and esters, known collectively as congeners, produced in alcoholic fermentation.

It is present in low concentration in wines and beer, and in high concentration in pot-still spirit. On maturation of the liquor fusel oil changes and imparts the special flavour to the spirit. Many of the symptoms of hangover can be attributed to fusel oil in alcoholic beverages. Can cause acute illness, including headaches, nausea, vomiting, clinical depression, or coma.

Columbia Encyclopedia: fusel oil

(fyū'zəl) , oily, colorless liquid with a disagreeable odor and taste. It is a mixture of alcohols (largely amyl alcohols) and fatty acids, formed during the alcoholic fermentation of organic materials. After imperfect distillation of these fermentation products it becomes an impurity in the distilled liquor. Fusel oil is used as a solvent in the manufacture of certain lacquers and enamels (it dissolves nitrocellulose). It has a detrimental effect on the human system.
anything in moderation...
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  #13  
Old 04-30-2008, 03:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mistress View Post
The original saying is :Absence makes the heart grow fonder." Bot said Absinthe makes the fart grow Honda.
Looks like my risk proved my ignorance.
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Old 05-01-2008, 07:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jordan G View Post
Did you just say ostensibly?
Word of the day calendar.
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Old 05-01-2008, 10:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jordan G View Post
Did you just say ostensibly?
Somebody's got to try and pick up the slack since Carleton has not been keeping up with our vocabulary expansion . . . .

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