The Crossroads of the Aether
As many here at The Steampunk Empire are aware, I've been experimenting with homemade absinthes for about 2 months now. I've talked about it here a little bit, but never really gone into much detail about what I've been working on.
I've taken to calling my home brewed absinthe "Nonsinthe" for the time being for a variety of reasons. Mostly I wish to make the distinction in what I've come up with and actual absinthe. Although my recipe is based on the 1871 Duplias and 1893 De Brevens brewing manuals, I am forced to use variations that make Nonsinthe too different from authentic absinthe to be seriously considered in that catagory. Also, being hampered by the lack of proper equipment and raw materials I wanted to work out a process that would be easy to follow just about anywhere. So, while it is a delightful blend of traditional absinthe and home brew mixology; it ain't quite absinthe
1. I'm not using a distillation process to boost the alcohol content. I'm still undecided about whether or not I want or need to distill my Nonsinthe. I've come up with a pretty tasty product and I really don't think I need the extra distillation for my own enjoyment.
2. I decided to use wine for my base maceration based on my research and the fact that Pernod Fils, the standard in absinthe, is wine based. Instead of an eau de vie which is the recommended spirit for traditional absinthe, I have found that I quite enjoy chardonnay. It is simply more easily accessable in my neighborhood and I didn't like the other white wines I experimented with. Also, it has a fairly neutral taste and the final color of my Nonsinthe is much better when I use chardonnay.
3. I'm also stuck using dried herbs rather than fresh. One of the things I've noticed is that the amount of herbs needed to make a decent Nonsinthe is so negligable that I've even stopped worrying about measurements and simply measure my herbs in pinches instead of grams. Indeed, with the process I'm using right now, an herbal blend that in it's entirety fills a bottlecap is more than enough to create a delicious and aromatic beverage. All together I spent about $25 on herbs. I've made 6 drinkable batches and 3 disasters so far, and haven't even made a dent in my supply yet.
Here are the herbs I'm using and where they go... It's important to note here that there are several other herbs associated with absinthe that I have not experimented with. Mostly I stuck with the "Holy Trinity" of grande wormwood, fennel seeds and green anise seeds then used the herbs I could find that are easily accessable.
1 ltr. chardonnay
grande wormwood - 1 pinch, ground
green anise seeds - 1 pinch, ground
star anise - 1, ground
hyssop - 1 pinch
coriander - 1/2 pinch
angelica - 1/2 pinch, ground *comes in root or seed, either is fine*
1 ltr. 190 proof Everclear:
common wormwood - 1/2 pinch, ground
peppermint - 1 pinch
fennel seeds - 1 pinch, ground
hyssop - 1 pinch
The prepared herbs are added directly to the bottles, then both bottles are placed in a pot of cold water which is then brought to a boil. Once the water comes to a rapid boil, the bottles are simply removed and capped. Then they are placed in a cool, dark location and shaken up 2-3 times a day for the next 8-10 days.
The most difficult herbs for me to find were actually the common wormwood and the angelica. I found grande wormwood at an occult herbalist that supplies Wiccans and found everything else but the common wormwood and angelica at a store near my home. I ended up having to return to the occult herbalist to special order the common wormwood and the angelica.
So... anyway... after 8-10 days you will need to remove the herbs from the alcohol. After a lot of experimentation with cheesecloth, tea bags, and coffee filters (all suggested methods you'll find online) I discovered that the best way is to poke 2 holes in the lids and slowly pour each bottle into a single, large mixing jar. This simple filtering process preserves the color, flavor, and the oils that will give you a good louche and filters out all but the smallest particles. I also found that my simple filtering process makes Nonsinthe less bitter than filtering and squeezing herb-filled filters afterward to retrieve the oils and flavors still trapped in the filter and herbs (another ridiculous online suggestion as anything worthwhile will have leeched out of the herbs after soaking in alcohol for 8-10 days).
This will give you a pale green Nonsinthe suitable for drinking. However you will end up with some sediment in the bottom of your mixture so you will need to shake before serving... I've been mixing this stuff at 1 part Nonsinthe to 3 or 4 parts water, (depending on my mood) with 1 cube of sugar. Because I am forgoing a final distillation at this time, the alcohol content is just too low to mix at a 5 parts water.
As part of my experiment, I've also mixed up several of the faux absinthe recipes I found online. I can honestly say that I prefer my Nonsinthe to any of the other home brew recipes I've found so far. The taste is much better than the all grain alcohol recipes I've recreated, and the final product is much smoother.
Experiment and enjoy.
I think the mother will benefit your recipe. Keep me/us posted. And kudos for your hard work and effort. Trying new things makes life exciting. I have yet to try Absinthe but your drink sounds yummy. Just watch out for cloudiness.lol And then again I don't know much about such things =P
I can't tell if this is two recipes or one. Do these two bottles get combined later? Either way, this sounds relatively easy to do without goofing it up!
Oh and calling it Nonsinthe made me laugh! (Made me think of Thindy Brady..I mean Cindy Brady)... ahhh hahaha ahhhhhhhh hahahahahaha.....
Have you considered using freezing as opposed to heat based distiliation ?
Do keep us updated SD. I wish I were among the taste testers is all I can say. :)