Strangely, the Michigan Absinthe I Bought About a Year Ago Just Made Me Throw Up a Little in My Mouth


From a New York Times story about Cheryl Lins, who makes absinthe upstate north of NYC and trucks it down to hip stores in Fun City:

After the Delaware County floods in 2006, grants and loans for new businesses were easier to come by and Ms. Lins saw an opportunity. Playing lawyer, she navigated the paper push of federal licensing and labeling. New York State bureaucracy was another matter. She said that by January 2009, she had not heard a word about the application she filed the previous September. Not prone to tears, she remembers them streaming onto her keyboard as she sent a pleading e-mail message to Albany.

"All I wanted was a chance to fail or succeed on my own merits, not because they were holding me up," she said. Her state license arrived two weeks later; her first commercial batch of Delaware Phoenix absinthe was out in April.

Whole thing here. I'm not sure what, if anything, to do with the above paragraphs, in which Ms. Lins gets grants and loans from (I assume) state and federal sources and then gets screwed around by bureaucrats. I do know that I greatly enjoyed drinking large quantities of absinthe in Amsterdan at a Reason event a few years back. And, as my headline suggests, my experience with domestic absinthe has been less than wonderful.

Reason's Jacob Sullum wrote about The Green Fairy here. And Charles Paul Freund poured a glass here.

Hat Tip: Alan Vanneman, World's Greatest Tipster.

Bonus video: Garrett C. Peck. author of the excellent The Prohibition Hangover, tells why American liquor laws are so screwy.


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  1. I enjoy my absinthe in the form of a Triple X: Equal parts absinthe, Everclear, and good quality vodka. Goes down like a shot of tap-water.

    1. Got to try that. I put Everclear in just about everything. Everclear and Tang, better than you would think; especially when the tang leaves a lumpy head on the drink. The Everclear soaked bits create a tartness like you wouldn’t believe.

      Haven’t done that one since I was teen. do they still make Tang?

        1. I love the taste of Tang. In fact I could go for some right now.

          1. Even better on a cold day when I was a kid: “Russian tea” made with Tang, lemonade mix, tea, cloves, etc.

            1. Careful, guys.

              You’re getting dangerously close to admitting the government can do something right.

              1. Don’t worry – Tang was actually introduced directly into the consumer market by General Mills in 1959.

          2. Hey, man, I love ‘tang, too… oh, wait, you mean the breakfast beverage. My bad.

  2. What is “Michigan Absinthe”? I somehow doubt us michiganders are in any better a position than anyone else in the country.

  3. I’ve had moonshine made in Detroit… about ten years ago. And I can still taste it.

  4. I blacked out the last time I had absinthe. I thought it was just a normal bye bye birdie sleep tight sort of happening, but later the next afternoon I discovered Olivia Newton John’s Xanadu some how made it on my ipod, bought and paid for by an inebriated me from the previous evening. I don’t remember doing that, and I’m afraid of what else may have occurred. I mean that is a small step away from some of your more spritely shenanigans. Green Fairy, indeed.

    1. If it had been “I Honestly Love You” you would need to be worried, but “Xanadu” is probably something you can just write off to the absinthe.

      1. You’re probably right, Episiarch. Much like Drunk Mel Gibson to his sober self, drunk alan’s favorite sport is to fuck over somewhat sober alan.

        1. Are you sure you didn’t up for a community production of Grease and totally forgot? I assume you would audition for Danny Zuko…or maybe you’re more of a Kenickie.

          1. I have been sipping my brother’s Christmas present to me all night, a bottle of Drambuie. It has come back to me, so I should write it down. I know why Xanadu was on my ipod now. An idiot friend of mine asked out of the blue, wasn’t that Michael McDonald who sung the back tracks to Xanadu, and I said said, no, you fuckin’ idiot, that was Jeff Lynne. So, I down loaded the track to prove it. We had a good laugh, and then sucked each other off, so my worries about it turning into something gay were completely unfounded.

            1. Ha ha ha ha ha, laughter really is the best medicine.

  5. I tried absinthe about a month ago. Mostly, it tasted like liquefied black licorice. Not a flavor I have any intention of tasting again, if I can help it.

    1. Except, even more bitter than sambuca which is another favorite of mine.

    2. What good is a drink if you don’t taste it twice?

  6. “Olivia Newton John’s Xanadu”

    Check out the original version by Sam Coleridge. Note the use of ” ” when approaching domestic offerings of absinthe, sorry “absinthe”….



    We approve the use of the term “absinthe” on the label of a distilled spirits product and in related advertisements only if the product is “thujone-free” pursuant to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulation at 21 CFR 172.510.

  7. “Olivia Newton John’s Xanadu”

    Check out the original version by Sam Coleridge.

    Note the use of ” ” when considering domestic offerings of absinthe, sorry “absinthe”


    We approve the use of the term “absinthe” on the label of a distilled spirits product and in related advertisements only if the product is thujone-free pursuant to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulation at 21 CFR 172.510.

    1. Yeah, the domestic stuff is worthless. My friend ordered some from the Czech Republic about 6 years ago & things would get very strange whenever we would drink it.

      1. Years ago, when I lived in Prague, some friends and I bought an entire bottle of absinthe at a bar hoping to hallucinate, or whatever it’s supposed to do to you.

        All we got is drunk. Very drunk.

        1. I’ve had a similar experience.

          1. It all depends on how much thujone is in the absinthe. My friend did his homework & ordered a bottle of Cezh Strong which is suppose to have the maxium legal amount of thujone.

      2. While this is true for the commercially produced variety, I happen to know a few individuals in Michigan who do in fact offer private batches of distilled absinthe that are quite formidable competitors to the Czech and Swiss absinthes. It is possible to find, as I can attest, and I wonder if its one of these clandestine brands that the OP was referring to. These operations seem to be growing in popularity from my experiences.

  8. Kubler Swiss, Vieux Carre, and a few others available in the US are pretty good. I really want to try Marilyn Manson’s absinthe called Mansinthe.
    the absinthe available in the US is real absinthe, the standard by which they judge it to be “thujone free” isn’t really, even European absinthes meet their standard, Kubler is imported I think. can’t wait to get another bottle of absinthe for x-mas. now we just need to get those hemp/cannabis liquors legalized!
    speaking of interesting alcohol, anyone else try Agwa de Bolivia Coca Leaf liqueur?

  9. Yeah, yeah, you lushes. Everyone likes to cut loose and flirt with blindness getting their absinthe on once in a while, but the point of the post was that bureaucrats won’t remove their arbitrary roadblocks until you cry or show them your tits. It’s an outrage!

    Also, I prefer some blue before going green.

    1. You banged She-Hulk? Fist of Etiquette indeed!

    2. I did that chick.

  10. Yeah, yeah, you lushes.

    There won’t be any lushes here until there’s at least one “Absinthe is shitty counterfeit Chartreuse for the arrested-Kliebold vampire-dork equivalent of freshman sorority pledges (but way fatter)” comment.

    Oh hey.

  11. “All I wanted was a chance to fail or succeed on my own merits” – using someone else’s money…

    I assume that THAT was the point of the post…


  12. I know you NYC types think anything north of Yonkers is upstate, but Delaware County is definitely not upstate.

    (Indeed, most of us in what the provincial NYC-types call upstate don’t call ourselves upstaters.)

  13. I live in Buffalo and I still hear NYC people calling it Upstate New York. It’s Western New York. There are more than just 2 regions in this state.

    1. I’d pretty much come to the conclusion that New York consisted of only 2 – NYC and “Upstate.”

  14. Not meaning any offense by that.

  15. “Upstate” is anything north of the NYC suburbs–always has been. Doesn’t mean there aren’t further regions. Or that upstaters won’t bitch at being lumped together. (I can say that because I spent almost 30 years there.)

  16. Seem to me that the upstaters should be happy to have a good simple way to define themselves as not from the city.

  17. Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder…

  18. Thujone is not chemically related to THC (this has been a persistent mistake since it was made in a actual paper, but thujone has not been observed to exhibit significant CB1 agonism and would not be expected to based on its structure). It is a GABA receptor A and 5-HT receptor 3 inhibitor, but so is ethanol, which is far more plentiful in the formulations in question. Neurological side effects beyond those attributable to the above receptors is likely due to adulteration with cupric acetate (to intenstify or produce the green color normally due to the chlorophyll from the herbs in the formulation) or placebo effect.

    So, yeah, it just gets you drunk.

  19. Yeah, right!!! Thujone suddenly has no effect, because in America it is prohibited in domestic “absinthe” products by an old law.

    Thujone actually counteracts the effect of alcohol, and is responsible for the celebrated absinthe effect. Where else could it come from? Please note:

    Absinthe: attention performance and mood under the influence of thujone.
    Dettling A, Grass H, Schuff A, Skopp G, Strohbeck-Kuehner P, Haffner HT.
    Institute of Forensic and Traffic Medicine, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

    CONCLUSIONS: As they are apparently opposed to the effect of alcohol, the reactions observed here can be explained by the antagonistic effect of thujone on the gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor. Similar alterations were observed for the other mood state dimensions examined.

  20. I’m curious as to who the manufacturer of this Michigan absinthe is, I have been creating my own, albeit small scale, for some time and I am interested in whether or not this was an experience from something similar to my own or in fact that of an inferior product.

    I don’t suppose the author would care to divulge his source of this nauseating spirit?

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