Lucid is the debut product from Viridian Spirits of Manhasset, N.Y., founded in early 2006. According to Jared Gurfein, Viridian's president, the company's first order of business was to contact Ted Breaux, a chemist known for his detailed analyses of vintage absinthes.From the comments I've seen around the web, the myths about absinthe are quite false, and it's really not much more than a very strong drink. Still, I think it'd be fun to try it, especially since fire can be involved in drinking it. I suppose that makes this a not-so-frosty-beverage!
Lucid is the debut product from Viridian Spirits of Manhasset, N.Y., founded in early 2006. According to Jared Gurfein, Viridian's president, the company's first order of business was to contact Ted Breaux, a chemist known for his detailed analyses of vintage absinthes.
Mr. Gurfein asked Mr. Breaux whether he could produce an absinthe that would pass regulatory muster with American authorities -- meaning that it would not contain thujone. Mr. Breaux said that would be fairly easy, given his belief that, contrary to popular opinion, 19th century absinthes contained relatively little thujone to begin with -- less than 5 parts per million, according to his tests, rather than much higher estimates that have been bandied about.
Still, Mr. Breaux knew that removing thujone entirely might harm the taste. "I had to get a handle on the whole thujone issue without compromising the character and the flavor of the drink," he said. To accomplish this, Mr. Breaux blended the grand wormwood with green anise and sweet fennel from Europe, instead of using more-affordable imports from East Asia. Using herbs from Europe, absinthe's native continent, he said, gives the drink an earthier essence.
Mr. Breaux also had to keep the American palate in mind while developing Lucid. "In the U.S., anise is a sort of a strange flavor," he said. "We don't get a lot of exposure to it." So Mr. Breaux made sure that Lucid had a slightly cleaner, crisper taste than its European peers.
Several Lucid prototypes were ready by last July; Mr. Gurfein and his staff at Viridian used an office taste test to select the formula they would take to market. That formula was then sent to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, a division of the Treasury Department, which checked the absinthe for traces of thujone and other impurities and approved it. The bureau also reviewed Lucid's bottle, paying close attention to the words on the back.
"They wanted to make sure that we were going to market this responsibly, that we didn't intend to piggyback on some of the myths," Mr. Gurfein said. Absinthe's fabled reputation for causing hallucinations and madness has since been debunked.