By OWEN MORRIS
Here's a fact: Absinthe was considered such a problem in the United States that it was banned in 1912. Cocaine and heroin were not banned until two years later.
That absinthe must have been powerful stuff.
Actually, scientists have tested surviving samples and decided it wasn't. It got a bad rap as the problem-de-jour, though, and was blamed for everything from causing Van Gogh to chop off his ear to a losing World War I. If it had not been illegal, Mel Gibson would have surely blamed it for some of his tirades.
Back in the day of Van Gogh and the Archduke Ferdinand, the best-selling absinthe and the one rumored to make you an amazing artist or crazy lunatic (or both!) was Pernod. Governments, sensing an opportunity to ruin a good time, banned absinthe, effectively shutting down most absinthe drinkers/
Pernod came back with liquor drinking containing no thujone or wormwood called Pernod classic, which was an anise-based liquor and that's been available for sale in the United States but with the United States relaxing (not repealing) absinthe laws last year, Pernod is back with the real stuff.
Pernod is rolling out a new liquor in the area called Pernod Absinthe which contains slight amounts of thujone and wormwood of up to the legal amount of 10 mg/liter. The French distillery is making a product scientifically similar to the original turn-of-the-century product and though the price is decidedly not turn-of-the-century ($70 for 750 ml bottle) this is the absinthe to lay down money on to see what all the fuss was about 100 years ago.
Pernod released the absinthe this summer but it had not been available in Kansas City liquor stores. That has changed. More than two months after I first contacted them, Pernod called me yesterday to let me know that its Absinthe had finally made its way to two Kansas City liquor stores: The Wine Cellar at 23 E. 3rd St. and the Gomers at 99th and Holmes.
If you stop in and pick up a bottle, save some for me. That is, if you're not the crazy ear-cutting type.