Absinthe is Legal Again - 11 Things You Need to Know

rez-art/iStock via Getty Images
rez-art/iStock via Getty Images

1. The anise-flavored spirit derived from the herb Artemisia absinthium, also called wormwood, was first distilled in Switzerland but didn't become popular until the French got hold of it in the 19th century, when it was thought to be wonderfully hallucinogenic.
2. Wormwood, as with most every other kind of herb, was first used by the ancient Egyptians as a remedy for certain ailments (then the Greeks, then the Romans - what else is new?).
3. But it took the French, in the mid 1800s to really make it popular by giving it to army troops as a malaria treatment.
4. Soon, there wasn't a café in Paris that wasn't serving it up. According to Wiki: "By 1910 the French were consuming 36 million liters of absinthe per year, more than they drank wine."
5. According to Wired.com, German scientists have recently discovered that there wasn't really anything hallucinogenic in absinthe, but at the time, absinthe addiction was blamed for everything from causing people to become delusional and insane, to provoking epilepsy and tuberculosis.
6. For these reasons, absinthe was banned in Switzerland in 1907 and the new law was penned into the Swiss constitution.

7. Other countries followed, including the U.S. in 1912 (and France in 1915).
8. But as all things historical are also cyclical, and so absinthe made a comeback in Europe in the 1990s. Now it's back and legal in many states in the U.S. In May 2007, Viridian Spirits launched Lucid Absinthe Supérieure, the first absinthe made with real Grande Wormwood available in the U. S. in 95 years.
9. The historic reversal was the result of extensive negotiations between Viridian and the U.S. government, ultimately lifting the ban.
10. Lucid is distilled at the Combier Distillery in Saumur, France, in original antique copper absinthe stills designed by Gustav Eiffel in the 19th century and sells for around $59.99 for a 750 ML bottle.
11. It's currently legal in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Anyone tried Lucid? Give us a full report in the comments below. And if you've tried any of the other brands, legal or otherwise, we'd love to know about those, too.

Blue Point Brewing Company's New Bubble Gum Beer Has a Garbage Pail Kids Twist

Blue Point Brewing Company
Blue Point Brewing Company

Craving the taste of 1980s nostalgia? Long Island-based Blue Point Brewing Company's new bubble gum-flavored IPA, Bubble Brain, smells like Bazooka Joe but tastes more like a less-sweet fruity brew, with a tart and bitter finish. Even those who aren’t keen on IPAs might like it, as the deep rose-hued drink looks like wine and doesn’t taste as hoppy as some IPAs and pale ales.

To give the beer an added throwback vibe, Blue Point (an Anheuser-Busch InBev company) tapped Garbage Pail Kids illustrator Brent Engstrom to design the label, which features a rendering of Blue Point’s brewmaster Mike "Stoney" Stoneburg, who came up with the beer.

"It’s a small batch, bubble gum beer, driven by fruit, spices, and yeast,” Barry McLaughlin, Blue Point Brewing’s marketing director, told Forbes. “It’s all inspired by a visit to a dusty novelty store on the west side of town and finding a bit of lost nostalgia of our ‘80s youth.”

“The juicy New England and milkshake IPA styles have become extremely popular, as well as fruited, kettle sours," McLaughin said of the beer's IPA-meets-sour flavor. "As brewers, we wanted to highlight the things we love about all of these styles but also take some risks and push the drinker’s experience further in a new, sub-style of IPA."

According to the beer review site Untapped, some drinkers have described the 6.5 percent ABV Bubble Brain as “weird,” “wild,” and “tastes just like bubble gum.”

You can find the beer—and a sip of yesterday—in pastel-colored tall boy four-packs at select retail outlets in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, and at Blue Point’s brewpub in Patchogue, New York.

You Can Now Enjoy a Vodka Made in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone … If You Dare

igorr1/iStock via Getty Images
igorr1/iStock via Getty Images

The HBO limited series Chernobyl has brought renewed attention to the 1986 nuclear accident that occurred in what was then the Soviet Union, which ranks among the worst man-made disasters in world history. The accidental explosion of the nuclear core irradiated a huge swath of land 1000 square miles in size and is believed to have killed thousands.

The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is now apparently safe enough for tourists, who flock to the site to get a glimpse of what amounts to a ghost town. But would you drink a vodka made from grains and water found there?

Scientists and researchers who have worked in the zone believe some people will. They’ve founded the Chernobyl Spirit Company and are now marketing Atomik, an artisan vodka made with rye grains and water from the area. Jim Smith, an environmental scientist at England's University of Portsmouth, led the exploration of land near the Opachichi settlement, which is believed to be one of the zone's least contaminated areas.

Rye grain grown on the site demonstrated levels of radioactivity that were slightly above safe thresholds. After being distilled, the spirit was submitted to experts at Southampton University for additional testing. The distillation seemed to virtually eliminate all but the naturally occurring levels of carbon-14 found in most any spirit. The water, which comes from an aquifer six miles south of the reactor, was found to be safe. The company also says that the soil poses no health issues for workers.

Researchers say the vodka accomplishes two goals: First, it makes use of land that would otherwise be abandoned. Second, proceeds from sales of the vodka will be put back into communities near the Exclusion Zone, which have struggled to improve their economic conditions in the years since the accident.

For now, the Chernobyl Spirit Company has only produced one bottle of Atomik. The goal is to make 500 bottles this year and sell them primarily to tourists to the site. If nothing else, having some Chernobyl moonshine will make for a conversation piece.

[h/t BBC]

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