Sometimes referred to as “the green fairy,” absinthe is a highly alcoholic green liquor made from a variety of aromatic herbs. It is said to have been invented in 1792 by Dr. Pierre Ordinaire, a French expatriate living in Switzerland, as a means of delivering the medicinal qualities of wormwood in a relatively palatable form.

The liquor is prepared from the leaves of common wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and other ingredients steeped in alcohol, including licorice, star anise, fennel, hyssop, and angelica root. Many absinthe drinkers believed that wormwood was the source of its legendary hallucinogenic powers, but most modern scientific analysis attributes its effects to the very high alcohol content, sometimes as high as 70 or 80 percent. In addition, some less-reputable distillers used toxic chemicals to fake the brilliant green color and other characteristics of absinthe, further contributing to its toxicity and notoriety.

The traditional absinthe drink was prepared with a special slotted spoon on which a sugar cube was placed. Water was sluiced over the sugar and into a glass containing absinthe until the liquid turned a milky, greenish- white color. This correct color and consistency, called “louche,” indicated that the bitter taste of straight absinthe had been adequately diluted. Only a few daring individuals would drink absinthe straight.

Absinthe was popular in Paris at the end of the nineteenth century among artists and writers, including the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh and the Irish poet Oscar Wilde. Postimpressionist painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec combined absinthe and cognac to produce a drink he called an “earthquake.”

The popularity of absinthe in America was largely restricted to the demimonde, or cultural underworld, of New Orleans, a city with deep ties to France. On Bourbon Street in the French Quarter (Vieux Carré), an establishment known as the Old Absinthe House had a spigot used solely for dripping water through sugar-loaded absinthe spoons.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, opposition to absinthe began to develop among people who disapproved of recreational intoxicants. An almost hysterical fear of absinthism led to the drink being lumped together with opiates and other powerful drugs. Exaggerated accounts of debaucheries committed by absinthe drinkers led legislators on both sides of the Atlantic to ban its production and consumption. The United States banned absinthe in 1912, almost a decade before Prohibition.

Bootleggers & Distillers a Short History: Revolutionary War to Prohibition

Stills, as in distillation contraptions and the art of home liquor-making came to America with the early settlers. The Scots, English, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans and Spanish all had a taste for alcohol, and with them they brought stills, expertise and generations of knowledge on how to ferment, brew and distill. One of the most beloved carry-on’s aboard ships sailing to the New World was yeast for the bread and beer and liquor and other eau de vie. The wild spores of America were untested by Europeans, so to be safe they scraped the lees and dregs from the bottoms of homeland vats and transported those strains abroad to be assured of some consistency in their alcohol. People carried on happily brewing and fermenting and distilling until war changed everything.

As a result of the Revolutionary War, the American government was overcome with debt. In an effort to generate revenue, it applied a federal alcohol tax to help manage the financial fray. Home distillers were furious. The Revolutionary War was fought, after all, to free Americans from being subject to British Imperialist taxation, so citizens were furious when the Distilled Spirits Tax of 1791 was created. Most Americans who had distilled continued doing so despite the taxation laws and refused to pay. As a result, the government sent forth tax collectors to obtain their share of the alcohol profits — tax collectors who were greeted with beatings, tarrings and featherings, and who subsequently trod lightly and forced collection halfheartedly. Distillers and farmers, many of whom were one and the same, remained furious, and in July 1794 the Whiskey Rebellion began. A militia force was sent by Alexander Hamilton to eradicate the rebellion, but, in reality, it served to drive distillers deeper underground.

In 1802, Thomas Jefferson repealed the whiskey excise tax and Americans were once again free to legally distill. From 1812 to 1817, the liquor tax was enacted to fund the War of 1812; post war, the tax was repealed. In 1861, burdened with debt from the Civil War, another liquor tax was imposed and has remained ever since. Making liquor (legal or not) was deeply ingrained in the culture of the American South, and for many people, it was the only means by which they had to make a living. The alcohol taxes applied post-Civil War were viewed by Southerners as an extension of Yankee tyranny. As such, local Southern politicians did little to enforce the laws on moonshiners.

Push ahead a few years to an experiment in piety also known as Prohibition. As it turns out, Prohibition was anything but dry — in fact, it’s where ‘shiners really revved up and made a name for themselves, profiting immensely from the low supply of legal alcohol. In the Southern United States, the number of moonshine stills quadrupled and illegal liquor production was at all-time high. To avoid the law, men modified their cars to outrun the police so they could transport moonshine to distribution points. Some of these drivers were the earliest stock car drivers who created NASCAR.

Source: The Airship

Culinary Fun Fact —> Eggnog

Eggnog Fun Fact —> While culinary historians debate its exact lineage, most agree eggnog originated from the early medieval Britain “posset,” a hot, milky, ale-like drink. By the 13th century, monks were known to drink a posset with eggs and figs. Milk, eggs, and sherry were foods of the wealthy, so eggnog was often used in toasts to prosperity and good health.

#Eggnog #CulinaryHistory

Japanese Teas After Matcha

The vast majority of tea consumed in Japan is, and historically has been, green tea. But there are many different options that fall under the “green” category, varying based on qualities like the time of harvest, how much sun the leaves have seen, how the tea is processed, and what parts of the plant are used in the final product.

SENCHA: The most commonly consumed tea in Japan, sencha consists of green tea leaves that have been grown in full sunlight. Meaning simmered tea, sencha is delicate, mild, and slightly floral. It should be brewed for 2 minutes in simmering water (160 to 170° F).

GYOKURO: This high-end tea is made from first-flush green tea leaves grown partially in the shade. Sweet and mild, it should be brewed for about 3 minutes in relatively cool water (120 to 140° F).

BANCHA: This lower grade of sencha is harvested later in the year, and can include some stems in with the leaves. Its flavor is more robust and astringent than delicate sencha. It should be brewed for 1 to 3 minutes in simmering water (160 to 170° F).

HOJICHA: A reddish-brown tea made by roasting bancha in a clay pot over charcoal (most Japanese teas are steamed), hojicha is a roasty, nutty, mellow tea, low in caffeine, typically served during or after an evening meal. It should be brewed for about 1 minute in simmering water (160 to 170° F).

GENMAICHA: Genmaicha refers to any combination of dried green tea and toasted genmai rice grains, the latter of which provides the beverage with a nutty depth to offset the tea’s natural astringency. It can be made with sencha, bancha, or gyokuro tea and sold premixed or created on your own at home. Brew it for 1 minute in water at a steep simmer (185° F).

KUKICHA: Also known as twig tea, this blend of tea leaves, stems, and twigs is available as both a green tea and in roasted, oxidized form. Creamy and mild, it should be brewed for 3 minutes in simmering water (160 to 170° F).

MUGICHA: Not technically a tea at all, mugicha is made from roasted barley. This caffeine-free beverage is traditionally served cold as a summer drink in Japan; outside of Japan, it’s popular as a coffee substitute. Brewing conditions needn’t be as fussy for mugicha as for green teas, but plan to steep it for about 2 minutes in simmering water (160 to 170° F).

Sources: Kyotofu

Detox Juice

I’m not one of those that goes on juice detoxes — although this juice could almost persuade me otherwise!

1 medium-sized beet, scrubbed well

1–2 carrots

1 small apple, cored and chopped

1/2 cup chopped pineapple

juice of ½ lemon

14 mint leaves

½ inch knob of fresh ginger

Mix all the ingredients in a juicer or blender and serve.

If you use a blender for this recipe, rather than a juicer, you will get a much thicker juice, due to the fibrous pulp from the fruit and veg being retained. You can add a little water to the recipe to thin it, or run the juice through a fine mesh sieve.

Edna Lewis on Coffee

“The smell of coffee cooking was a reason for growing up, because children were never allowed to have it and nothing haunted the nostrils all the way out to the barn as did the aroma of boiling coffee. The decision about coffee was clear and definite and a cook’s ability to make good coffee was one of her highest accomplishments. Mother made real good coffee but some mornings my father would saddle the horse and ride more than a mile up the road to have his second cup with his cousin Sally, who made the best coffee ever.”

~ Edna Lewis (1916-2006),  Renowned African-American chef, teacher, and author who helped refine the American view of Southern cooking. From “The Taste Of Country Cooking”

#FavoriteQuotes #CulinaryHero #EdnaLewis


In 1838, Antoine Amedie Peychaud, owner of a New Orleans apothecary, treated his friends to brandy toddies of his own recipe, including his “Peychaud’s Bitters,” made from a secret family recipe. The toddies were made using a double-ended egg cup as a measuring cup or jigger, then known as a “coquetier” from which the word “cocktail” was derived.

By 1850, the Sazerac Cocktail, made with Sazerac French brandy and Peychaud’s Bitters, was immensely popular, and became the first branded cocktail. In 1873, the recipe for the Sazerac Cocktail was altered to replace the French brandy with American Rye whiskey, and a dash of absinthe was added.

In March 2008, Louisiana state senator Edwin R. Murray (D-New Orleans) filed Senate Bill 6 designating the Sazerac as Louisiana’s official state cocktail. The bill was defeated on April 8, 2008. After further debate, on June 23, 2008, the Louisiana Legislature agreed to proclaim the Sazerac as New Orleans’ official cocktail.

⅛ Teaspoon herbsaint or pernod liqueur
2 ounces rye whiskey
1 teaspoon simple syrup
3 or 4 dashes peychaud’s bitters
1 strip lemon peel

Pour the Herbsaint or Pernod into a small, chilled old-fashioned glass and swirl it along the sides of the glass before discarding the excess liquid, if desired.

Combine the rye, simple syrup, and bitters in a cocktail shaker filled with ice; shake well to combine.

Moisten the edge of the glass with the lemon peel. Strain the cocktail into the glass, and drop in the peel.

Simple Planter’s Punch

This tropical drink hails from Cuba.

1 (750-Ml) Bottle Dark Rum
1 (6-Ounce) Can Frozen Pink Lemonade Concentrate
1 (6-Ounce) Can Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
2 Ounces Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
1½ Ounces Grenadine
4 Cups Water

Garnishes: Orange Slice and Maraschino Cherry, sometimes the addition of fresh mint.

Combine all ingredients except the garnishes in a large container; stir well.

Chill until ready to serve, then ladle or pour into ice-filled cocktail glasses. Add the garnishes.

Mint Julep

2 sprigs fresh mint
1 teaspoon sugar
A few drops of water
2 jiggers bourbon whiskey
Ice, finely crushed

Put the sprigs of fresh mint in the bottom of a glass. Add the sugar and a few drops of water. Using a wooden muddler, thoroughly bruise the mint with the sugar and water.

Pour in 1 jigger bourbon whiskey. Pack the glass to the brim with finely crushed ice. Add the remaining 1 jigger whiskey and let it trickle down to the bottom of the glass. Put a sprig of fresh mint in the top of the glass and serve.

Milk Punch

3 Quarts Half-And-Half
1 Bottle (750-Ml) Of Bourbon
¼ Cup Vanilla Extract
2 Cups Powdered Sugar

Garnish: Grated Nutmeg

Combine all ingredients except the nutmeg in a gallon-size container. Cover and freeze until the mixture is slightly frozen.
Use an ice pick to make the mixture slightly slushy. Pour into a punch bowl or chilled pitcher. Add more powdered sugar, if desired. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Pour into small cocktail glasses or wine goblets (not over ice). Garnish each drink with an additional pinch of nutmeg.

Serve very cold.