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Mr_Saturn512's avatar

What are the current rules and regulations concerning absinthe sold in the US?

Asked by Mr_Saturn512 (348 points ) January 23rd, 2014

I’ve found some topics through the Internet about this but they’re old and I’m not sure if things have changed or what the deal is now.

Long story short, I owed someone “real” absinthe, like he wants to hallucinate and shit. But I already am aware that absinthe has kind of been sensationalized but he didn’t seem to understand and I really owed him for something important he did for me.

So I got one imported from the Internet. But he sort of now doesn’t believe that it’s the “real thing” because apparently it’s illegal to receive absinthe from Europe. Yet. I just did. And I’m holding it in my hands right now.

The way I understand it right now based on what I’ve read – it’s not necessarily illegal to have it shipped to you, but it IS illegal to sell it. It’s the thujone content they’re worried about though, right?

I don’t know now. The more I look into it, the more I feel confused. Point is – absinthe doesn’t really make you hallucinate (right?). And it’s hard to try to convey that to him because he’s already a little off his rocker. I read that you have to have insane amounts of thujone that nobody really makes anymore in order to feel the “green fairy”.

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8 Answers

BhacSsylan's avatar

There are no more bans. They haven’t existed for several years now. You are correct that it’s been sensationalized, and was mostly the result of being associated with lower-class artists (think of all the craziness that’s been said about what marijuana will do to you a few decades ago. It’s super silly now). Almost all abinthe made now has a similar concentration of thujone as those made earlier, before the ban was lifted, and you can get similar concentrations here as in europe (I have a very nice bottle in my freezer now that I’ll put up against any run of the mill one from europe). They’ve done studies, and regardless of the type of absinthe, you would die of alcohol poisoning before feeling the neurotoxic effects of the thujone. It’s an excellent drink, but it’s been heavily romanticized.

Mr_Saturn512's avatar

What are some brands that you know off the top of your head that you can get here? I blank out whenever I try to find it in an everyday liquor store, probably because they put it under another name? One of my friends pointed out that a bottle was abinsthe, but nowhere on the bottle, at least obviously, did it have the actual words “Absinthe”. It was something else instead that I can’t remember now.

BhacSsylan's avatar

Interesting. I know Lucid is generally considered quite good, though I haven’t tried it myself. And also is not obviously absinthe, the front is just the name and a pair of green cat eyes, so that may be what you’re remembering. The bottle I have is pricy, but is very good, St. George Verte. It’s very strong, though, so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you know you like the taste. If you want to just try it, Absente is okay, but is not particularly authentic (seriously, it has green food coloring), but it’s cheap and might be worth it if you just want to try it out as a result.

BhacSsylan's avatar

Sorry, slightly misstated, there is still technically a ban on those with thujone above 10 ppm, which is similar to Europe (some European liquors can get higher, but again almost none do, and some that claim extraordinary levels very rarely prove to actually have it). This still makes essentially all absinthe legal (including, again, pretty much all pre-ban absinthes).

BhacSsylan's avatar

Also interesting, toxicology of an overdose of Thujone “were seizures, rhabdomyolysis, and acute renal failure”. Not exactly a fun time (though that was from a serious overdose from wormwood essential oil, which is a whole other beast). And studies found that giving alcohol with thujone up to 100 ppm only caused “a negative impact on attention performance”. No hallucinations to be found. This is an interesting read if you’ve got a while.
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Tropical_Willie's avatar

Hallucinations may have come in the older Absinthe from the copper salts (poisonous) used to color the liquor green.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’ve only heard lots of rumors about absinthe being used with cocaine and other stimulants, like mixed in drinks with the absinthe, never tried it personally. Some friends said they had it in Amsterdam but didn’t hallucinate. I’m interested in other responses here though.

BhacSsylan's avatar

@Tropical_Willie That’s possible, though older ones tested didn’t seem to have that issue. All bets are off with bootlegged stuff, though, which was not exactly unpopular.

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