Paul Clarke is a Seattle-based writer specializing in spirits and cocktails. He publishes The Cocktail Chronicles.
Two years ago, I attended Tales of the Cocktail and was delighted to sit in on a session that, due to its subject matter–absinthe–carried a touch of danger and intrigue.
Last year, I attended Tales of the Cocktail and, in addition to a reprise of the absinthe session, I was served a drink or two made with Lucid, at that time the only legal absinthe on the market. I also attended an absinthe dinner at a restaurant where we were seated in a private dining room, shielded from the view of other diners partially because we had our own setup of fountain and absinthes, all of which were still on the prohibited list.
This year, absinthe is everywhere; the flood I’d anticipated last fall while writing a feature on the spirit for Imbibe (it’s here, as a PDF) has come even larger than I’d expected. In the months to come we’ll see some of the most spectacular absinthes I’ve ever tried come onto the US market, along with, it should be said, massive amounts of crap.
To help you wade through this steaming pile to find the pony on the other side, on Friday, July 18, I’ll be co-moderating a session at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail titled “Cocktails with a Kick: Absinthe Returns to America.” Joining me as co-moderator will be my good friend Gwydion Stone, founder of the Wormwood Society and producer of Marteau; and the uber-talented Jim Meehan, bar manager at PDT in New York.
With Gwydion picking up the story of absinthe and Jim talking about the ways he and his colleagues are mixing it today, I’ve got a big job ahead of me. Fortunately, I love absinthe, and I love absinthe cocktails, so it’s been a pleasure to dig into the vintage bar books in my collection to find the most interesting and most unusual cocktails in creation. It’s also been fascinating for me to dig through old books and news archives to find references to absinthe, both the ways bartenders were serving it, and the ways it was portrayed in stories and tracts.
I won’t go into detail here — that’s what the presentation is for, after all — but if you’re in New Orleans for Tales, be sure to join us at the Hotel Monteleone on Friday, July 18, at 12:30pm for “Cocktails With a Kick”. Plus, we’re serving lots of good booze, so that should be extra encouragement; you can buy tickets here, and I hope to see you there.