Absinthe has had a certain reputation for its strength and hallucinogenic characteristic (more on that later).
It’s fun to make absinthe at home, whether you want to do it just to make one customized to your preferences, or to get a hallucinogenic version.
This guide will tell you how to make absinthe, plus a few more tidbits of information so you can enjoy it on your own!
What Is Absinthe?
Absinthe is distilled liquor which is made of alcohol and a plant called artemisia absinthium or “wormwood.“ [R] It has an unmistakable green color and a particular flavor derived from this plant.
It is usually consumed diluted in ice water with some sugar added.
What is Absinthe Like?
If you are going through the tedious process of making your own absinthe, it’s important that you know what you’ll be getting.
- It has a very strong flavor and abv content, just like other liquors such as vodka, rum, or even moonshine. So we caution you when consuming this. It’s not for everyone.
- It tastes like licorice and anise. Considering how divided people are about the taste of licorice, it’s important you know where you stand since you might dislike this.
- Not all absinthe is hallucinogenic. Wormwood, with a high concentration of thujone, handles this. This is illegal in the U.S., so the absinthe you’ll find here does not have the hallucinogenic characteristic those in other countries have.
Where Did Absinthe Come From?
The real origins of absinthe are unclear’ however, some have attempted to trace it.
Absinthe was first made as a health tonic in the 1700s and was made of a variety of different herbs, such as lemon balm. Often, this tonic was used as a pain reliever or a “folk cure.”
According to stories, everyone had different recipes for absinthe, with some even including snails, chickens, and fat!
From this, absinthe continued to evolve until it became known for the combination of fennel, anise, and wormwood.
Regardless, they all agree that by the 19th century, absinthe was consumed as both a curative potion and a libation.
Many also believe that absinthe was first created by one the French doctor Pierre Ordinaire [R] by mixing alcohol with artemisia absinthium, which is a herb that has digestive, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties.
While it was first used for medicinal, its particular taste became so appealing it became a highly popular refined liqueur in Switzerland, where Ordinare lived.
Henri-Louis Pernod then began producing absinthe industrially in 1805.
By 1912, they had to make absinthe in such large quantities to supply the tremendous demand, which amounted to 220 million liters in France alone.
For quite a long time, Europe had a ban on absinthe.
Almost every company engaged in absinthe production from the early 1900s to the 1920s ended up being shut down for the hallucinogenic reputation this drink had.
Unfortunately, one consequence of the prohibition on absinthes resulted in the knowledge’s loss of how absinthe production was normally done.
A lot of what we know for how to make absinthe are attempts at recreating previous recipes.
However, the original recipes themselves have been completely lost.
How to Make Absinthe at Home: What You’ll Need
Yield: 95 proof absinthe
- Strainer or cloth bag
- Warm dark storage
- Alcohol base: Hard liquor that suits your taste, like vodka
- 35 grams wormwood
- 35 grams anise seeds
- 8 grams star anise
- 4 grams fennel seeds
- 8 grams Angelica root
- 4 grams marjoram
- 4 grams coriander
- 4 cardamom pods
- One-half seed of nutmeg
The basic elements for homemade absinthe consist of the holy trinity of wormwood, anise, and fennel, along with a hard liquor like vodka. The ingredient list above will give you more flavor and a more heady punch. However, they are optional.
The wormwood separates a hallucinogenic from a non-hallucinogenic absinthe.
You can use various herbs in absinthe recipes. The combination of these is what absinthe makers guard closely.
A simple change in the amount you use can completely change the taste and turn it into something completely undrinkable after it has undergone the distillation process.
Some that you can use include hyssop, artemisia Pontiac, lemon balm, spearmint, calamus, sandalwood, ganepi, various seeds, and more.
If You Have Made Hallucinogenic Absinthe:
Make sure you get “grand wormwood” or artemisia absinthium plant, which is the kind that has a compound called thujone. Safer and milder alternatives are royal or petite wormwood.
Note that it’s best to buy it fresh, though it may be a bit difficult to find.
We recommend you buy all these ingredients separately and mix them yourself to achieve better results. This will also allow one to adjust your recipe to your preference later on.
Remember that it will take a lot of trial and error to find the exact recipe that you will love, so having separate ingredients is crucial to getting the best absinthe out of this process.
Here are the Steps on How to Make Absinthe at Home:
The Easy Way: Making Absinthe through the Infusion Method
Step #1: Mix
Add 1/3 cup of the herbal mix you have used to 750 ML of your liquor of choice.
Step #2: Wait and Make the Macerate
Make sure to store the mixture in a bottle and place it in a warm, dark place. You can choose to wait from anywhere between 2 weeks to 2 months.
To make the macerate, infuse wormwood and vodka together for a few days.
Step #3: Straining and Distillation
Once your storage period is done, strain the herbs out. Then, distill the brown, bitter liquid by boiling it. A good still kit will make this easy to do. This takes out the bitterness and some alcohol.
Step #4: Add the Maceration and Dilute
Remember the second infusion you made? Add that to the distilled absinthe. Water is added as well to dilute the distillate.
Step #5: Try and Try
If you are trying this, note that macerated absinthes are usually bitter because the bitter components are not separated from the essential oils during the infusion.
You may have noticed that we haven’t really given you exact measurements here. This is because the original recipes for making absinthe the traditional way have long been lost.
So, a lot of this process requires trial and error to figure out what ratios work for you.
Keep trying until you figure out the right herbal mix and ratios of alcohol, macerate, and H20! And have fun in the process!
Method 2: The Oil Mix
Step #1: Infuse with Wormwood
Place the alcohol in a glass bottle with the wormwood. Close the bottle with a sealed cork, then let it sit for a month.
Be sure to remember to shake the bottle a few times a day.
Step #2: Grind the Herbs
Grind the herb mix of your choice using a mortar and pestle. Don’t be afraid to experiment and figure out what works for you. This is the advantage of buying everything separately!
Step #3: Filter and Add Herbs
Once the month is done, filter the clear liquid to remove the herb.
Then add the herb mix you previously ground up. This is what will color the absinthe and works just like a tea bag that you place into the distillate.
You may either use a brand fresh bottle or the same one in which you infused the vodka. If you’re using the same bottle, ensure that you wash and dry it carefully.
Step #4: Distillation
Let the mixture in the bottle steep for another month. Like the first infusion, ensure you shake the bottle at least once a day.
Step #5: Enjoy!
Once you get to this point, your absinthe is ready to go! You can enjoy it in various ways.
The Pure Method
Sip the absinthe just as it is. As a warning, this can be an intense experience. Only true experts can enjoy the green fairy purely on its own.
The Milder Way
- For a lighter, fresher drink, place a bit of sugar in a teaspoon.
- Pour a glass of the liquor over the spoon. Collect the liquid in another glass.
- Light it up! Use a match or lighter to carefully light the remaining liquor-soaked sugar on the spoon and blow out the flame after 10 seconds.
- Stir the spoon into the absinthe.
- Add a half-dose of ice water.
- Stir it again.
The Sugar Cube Method
You can also choose to enjoy your drink with sugar and H20 by dissolving a sugar cube into the mixture using a water drip.
Try & Taste It for Yourself!
While absinthe is something not every bartender or tippler likes, it’s an interesting drink. This distillate with its vivid green color and recipe of herbs and maceration tastes unique.
However, just note that this is not meant for every lifestyle. We also recommend that you be careful with your consumption, as this spirit can be very strong. We hope this guide on how to make absinthe helped you!