Saturday, May 30, 2009
Finally got around to the new Pernod absinthe. At $70 a bottle I don't expect to be drinking much of it — mine was, in fact, a PR sample — which is rather sad. I always figured that, once absinthe became widely available, I'd pour me one or two on hot summer days and let warm breezes bake me into a fit worthy of Wilde.
Of course, it'd take a bottle or so to get that elevated, not a likely proposition at that price. And then who's got time to lie around plugged into an absinthe drip taking in green fairies?
A tale of absinthe …
Tony, brother to our next door neighbor in Saint-Chinian, came over one night when we threw a party just before our exodus. Tony liked to smoke. His tan, shaven skin was cologned but the smell of cigarettes was not so easily masked. His white shirt was very starched. A night on the town in Beziers seemed certain. I did not inquire, though, of his plans.
While the rest of the crowd fell into groups — later, we would learn, aligned along old patterns established after years of feudal back and forth — and drank glasses of co-op wine, Tony and I stood over the counter where what little liquor in the house resided. A bottle of Pastis, traces of an Armagnac, a chestnut liqueur, and a half-full bottle of Francois Guy Absinthe. The Pastis was nearly full.
Until Tony got through with it. He kept pouring himself glass after watered glass. (But not before holding the bottle up for me to approve another round. Mannered gent, Tony.) I watched the bottle disappear and decided that Tony would go dry before long.
"Tony," I said, "would you like an absinthe?" I said it in French, of course, having practiced the line for some time on Kelly.
"Absinthe?" Tony replied with a robust shake of the head I almost read as a reprimand. "No, no, pas absinthe."
He said something else about it being pure poison or something. So I poured him his — and my — last Pastis and let him add the water.
"Mark," Tony said, winking at me, "I'm glad I met you."
I don't remember the sentiment in French.