My primary flying potion is absinthe. Although a touch unconventional (not having any deadly poisonous hallucinogens or rendered baby fat or any of that), I find it highly effective, particularly when combined with drumming and occasionally marijuana. The major problem is that it’s fucking expensive, and it flies a little in the face of my DIY ethic. So I’m trying to make my own.
The First Experiments: Bacardi 151 Rum (151 proof) vs. 360 Vodka (40 proof)
Herbs – ground together and sifted into repurposed glass bottles.
3/4 oz. wormwood (~1/2 cup)
2 Tbs. star anise
1 Tbs. fennel
1 Tbs. mint
1 tsp. hyssop
1 tsp. angelica
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. caraway
Infusion – liquor poured over the herbs. Then the waiting.
One batch of herbs is being infused into 151 proof rum, the other into vodka. While my recipes call for high-proof rum, or even pure grain alcohol, I have some serious doubts as to how that’s going to work with the flavor profile. I’m also a little skeptical that the high proof is actually necessary for thujone extraction. Finally, in the backassward states I live in, high proof alcohol is taxed to the point where it is actually more expensive than alcohol fit for human consumption (and, living in the United States, there’s always the issue of denaturing). My research recommends three to ten days for thujone extraction, and basically the same time frame (at least three days, or until you run out of patience) for other herbal infusions. These, my first experiments, were infused for four days.
Neither infusion took on the characteristic green color of absinth: both are rather brownish. If I recall correctly though, the green comes from a second variety of wormwood and from the mint, which I may add more of.
Both varieties have a strong bitter undertone, which I had hoped to avoid with the short infusion period. The rum infusion tastes much more like absinthe than the vodka, and the native flavor of the rum covers the bitterness a little. Mixing the vodka infusion with sugar and water opens up the flavor and dials back the bitterness; I believe that a second lump of sugar will perfect the cocktail. (I will report on the rum infusion when I deliver it to the friend who paid for the experiment.)
Visionary results from the wormwood infused vodka were well within expected parameters. I suspect the same will be true of the rum infusion.
Conclusions and Sources
One of my two primary sources for this experiment recommended infusing the alcohol with the wormwood first, then the other herbs. I will do this for my next experiment, tasting it as it steeps so as to better gauge the efficacy and bitterness over time. I may also steep each of the herbs individually so as to best understand their flavor elements, as well.
Each 750 ml experiment lost about 20% of its volume to the herbs, which I had infused loose. I will tie the next batch in cheesecloth or cotton, which satchel I will be able to better extract the finished potion. Larger batches may also help solve this problem, as the herbs can only absorb so much liquid.
The above experiment was cobbled together from two recipes:
Dangerous Minds DIY Absinth – Originally intended for use with a still.
Ingredients: Alcohol 80% and herbs (the most common bought in the chemist’s, in grams per 1 liter of alcohol):
Wormwood: 100 g
Fennel (fruit): 50 g
Anise: 50 g
Mint: 15 g
Melissa: 8 g
Chamomile: 3 g
Cumin: 10 g
Angelica: 10 g
750 ml. 151 rum
One ounce dried chopped wormwood
One tablespoon fennel or anise seeds
One tablespoon dried angelica root
One teaspoon dried hyssop leaves
One half teaspoon coriander seeds
One quarter teaspoon caraway seeds
One pinch cardomon pods
750 ml. 151 rum
And for future reference: another Homemade Absinthe Recipe.