Join 3,377 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water. ~ W.C. Fields
September 21, 2006 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Poitin, Hjemmebrent, and Slivovitz are all vying to be the next Absinthe. Though Poitin gets extra points for being banned by a 17th century monarch, they are all part of the very trendy, very quaffable moonshine revival.
posted by huckhound (38 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
man, Slivovitz is just nasty
posted by matteo at 10:05 AM on September 21, 2006


yeah, i second the Slivo-is-nasty motion. I got talked into drinking that swill in Prague. The memory still haunts me today - take the worst parts of grappa, gin, and cheap vodka, mix, and i think that is still prefferable to slivo.
posted by casconed at 10:26 AM on September 21, 2006


I wonder why Becherovka's not in the running.
posted by smrtsch at 10:29 AM on September 21, 2006


poteen is a tastily inoffensive fruity hooch, but nothing to consume in quantity or write home to Dad about.

I wanna see the Akavit make a big comeback...
posted by stenseng at 10:51 AM on September 21, 2006


Fernet Branca!
posted by hortense at 10:54 AM on September 21, 2006


Oh, god. Slivovitz.
A mouth-full-of-Husky-fur-twelve-inch-nail-in-head-stomach-like-a-bag'O'ptomaine hangover.
Never again.
posted by Floydd at 11:00 AM on September 21, 2006


And no matter how much Slivovitz you drink, itnever gets any better.

Yet I loves me the stuff.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:02 AM on September 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


What happened to absinthe, that we need a new absinthe? Did we lose it?
posted by jfuller at 11:08 AM on September 21, 2006


Ok, here's three tips for those of you who dig your hardcore liquor. All these to be drunk cold, no ice, no mixer, natch.
  1. Tsiporou. A Greek take on grappa, but harder, better, and harder to find. My girlfriend's father's priest near Patras makes the best I've ever had.
  2. Jenever. Dutch gin, which is misleading. Not like London gin at all. Ketel One is the brand I like best. Go for Oude, not Jonge.
  3. Posh. The southern Mexican equivalent, another home-brewer.
I've also just found that poteen can be ordered online here by UK residents. Drink responsibly, everyone, and stay on the good shit.
posted by imperium at 11:10 AM on September 21, 2006


Hjemmebrent, or Hemmabränt in Swedish, is nasty homemade hooch, the result of ridiculously high taxes on the legitimate stuff. Passed two or three times through a Brita filter, served ice cold, it is barely drinkable.

It's not until you ponder how much coin you're saving that it becomes rather tasty. Then it's smooth and delicious.
posted by three blind mice at 11:21 AM on September 21, 2006


Did we lose it?

the real stuff, like true actual oldskool opium (just ask Nick Tosches) just isn't manufactured anymore.
posted by matteo at 11:23 AM on September 21, 2006


That poitin page is so cheesy! "Ever since the beginning of time, the Irish have been dedicated distillers at which they have a skill and application matched only by their own eloquence." Heh.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:32 AM on September 21, 2006


the real stuff, like true actual oldskool opium (just ask Nick Tosches) just isn't manufactured anymore.

Well, that's not quite true. In recent years, absinthe has enjoyed something of a revival in Europe, and some producers (particularly the French and Swiss) are now distilling extremely potable brands, though on a very small scale compared to other liquors. However, it remains illegal to produce or distribute absinthe in the US.
posted by malocchio at 11:39 AM on September 21, 2006


I'm quite a fan of the potcheen.
posted by potch at 11:40 AM on September 21, 2006


My nomination for World's Nastiest Liquor is Hungary's Unicum.

It's like Jagermeister mixed with the contents of my lower intestine.
posted by gurple at 11:43 AM on September 21, 2006


"the real stuff, like true actual oldskool opium (just ask Nick Tosches) just isn't manufactured anymore." -- matteo

Actually, that's incorrect. There are, at present, a number of fairly authentic absinthes commercially available.

The problem is the huge amount of myth, misinformation, and outright bullshit surrounding the drink at this point in its history. Many of the brands on the market all claim to be "authentic," but are basically just tinted, mouthwash-tasting vodkas.

If you want a good, authentic absinthe, then I would suggest trying one of Ted Breaux's Jade varieties, available at Liquers de France.

Any of the Emiles or VDF varieties would also serve you well.

These are all proper distilled absinthes.

You can read up on absinthe and the different methods of manufacture (and authenticity) of various brands at Fee Verte.
posted by kaseijin at 11:58 AM on September 21, 2006


As a Norwegian, I feel the need to pipe up: Hjemmebrent (literally home burned) is destilled to whatever purity the destiller is able to get it to. Getting it up to 96% is no mean feat. That being said, it's perfectly possible to make quite pure, neutral tasting alchohol on home equipment with a little patience and skill.

One unfortunate side effect of alchohol being so highly taxed is a culture of binge drinking. People have "pre-parties" (vorspiel) at home with their friends where they drink the cheaper stuff in greater quantities, and then they go out around 23 (11 PM) and meet larger groups of friends for a couple of hours. All bars then close, ejecting a large amount of drunk people on the streets at precisely the same time... People then go home to their friends again and have "after-parties" (nachspiel) where more alcohol is consumed.

I've tasted slivovich as well, and moonshine is moonshine...
posted by Harald74 at 12:09 PM on September 21, 2006


Absinthe is available in Canada, and via an internets near you. It's my understanding that the current absinthes on the market are much stronger then the absinthes of two centuries ago. So it isn't so much comparable to opium as it is to weed--the new stuff blows the old stuff away (in terms of potency).
posted by my homunculus is drowning at 12:43 PM on September 21, 2006


"current absinthes on the market are much stronger then the absinthes of two centuries ago"... Wrong again, or at least not entirely true.

There is a misconception that the concentration of thujone in absinthe, due to the amount of wormwood used, is a measure of the drink's strength, value, authenticity, etc.

There's probably more thujone in your average pork sausage, as it is basically also found in a rather innocuuous and readily-available plant known as sage. Yes, the chemical is a neurotoxin, but the potency of absinthe is in its alcohol content. You will get blitheringly, blindingly drunk before any sort of toxic effects of the thujone kick in.

Absinthe of today has roughly the same proof as absinthe of yesteryear, but some brands tout ultra-high thujone content. Look out for those brands.... they're marketing a gimmic that has no effect, save to ruin the flavor of your drink by making it overly bitter.

The "madness" that absinthe caused way back in the day was largely due to the amount of alcohol consumed (DT's) and the use by some inferior distilleries of various heavy metals to enhance color and louche.
posted by kaseijin at 12:53 PM on September 21, 2006


One problem with absinthe is its tendancy to cause sonorous flatulence that causes your wind to make a sound like the name of a major car manufacturer.

It is a well known fact that absinthe makes the fart go "Honda."
posted by Floydd at 12:54 PM on September 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


Absente is excellent and perfectly legal (the wormwood is replaced by Southernwood).
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:38 PM on September 21, 2006


Anybody who has tried an absinthe with a high thujone content knows that the stuff does a fuck of a lot more than just make the drink bitter. More thujone directly equals more potent. Absinthe is not just flavored everclear.

Absente, lacking wormwood, will produce none of the effects that real absinthe will, unless all you're looking for is a blind drunk.
posted by my homunculus is drowning at 2:58 PM on September 21, 2006


A good article which indicates that while many of the percieved effects of thujone are perhaps poetic indulgence, thujone does have a few very potent effects on the nervous system, including enough toxicity to kill at high enough doses.
posted by my homunculus is drowning at 3:20 PM on September 21, 2006


My nomination for World's Nastiest Liquor is Hungary's Unicum.

unicum is a brand of zwack (apricot, pear, or plum brandy). or rather, zwack is a company which makes unicum and the many imitators call the product zwack. it is super nasty.

the aforementioned slivovitz (or slivova or slivovica, if in croatia) is zwack which has been distilled yet again. it's rot gut. further distillations result in barack palinka, which is somehow fantastic. you need this.

another other east european eau de vie: vinjak (like bad congac).

kruskova is the pear liquor you find at east european truck stops in souvenier bottles. it's puke sauce fo kids.

polish advocaat (egg yolks, cream, vanilla, cognac) is pretty vile.

czech becherovka is like essence of yaeger. to be avoided at all costs.
posted by 3.2.3 at 3:31 PM on September 21, 2006


The only thing thing wrong with Unicum is I don't have any right now.

unicum is a brand of zwack (apricot, pear, or plum brandy). or rather, zwack is a company which makes unicum and the many imitators call the product zwack. it is super nasty. the aforementioned slivovitz (or slivova or slivovica, if in croatia) is zwack which has been distilled yet again. it's rot gut. further distillations result in barack palinka, which is somehow fantastic. you need this.

It's usually hard to combine incoherence and inaccuracy without diminishing either, but - well done.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:30 PM on September 21, 2006


I don't know about the relative concentration of thujone in sausage and absinthe, but this article givers more detail on its neurotoxicity.
posted by owhydididoit at 5:53 PM on September 21, 2006


r
posted by owhydididoit at 5:53 PM on September 21, 2006


Oh, it is certainly a neurotoxin, and a pretty good one... I wasn't meaning to imply that it wasn't. What I was pointing out was that, in absinthe -- even the "high thujone" labels -- you will pass out drunk well before you attain enough thujone to have any sort of appreciable affect. It is a very high-alcohol drink.

This is why people generally scoff at those labels, not because thujone is not a neurotoxin. It's about the relative concentration of alcohol in the beverage.

Sorry to have apparently been unclear.
posted by kaseijin at 6:30 PM on September 21, 2006


Slivovitz isn't, necessarily, bad at all (hint: it's just a particular sort of plum eau de vie), tsipouro isn't like grappa at all, and there's plenty of authentic absinthe (in which there's actually very little thujone) available.

And if you actually order tsipouro in northern Greece, it's served like ouzo.

Saying that it's misleading to call genever "gin" might be true insofar as people think of London gin when they hear "gin", but is itself misleading, because where do you think "gin", the word, comes from? "Genever" (aka juniper). Anyway, there are other varieties of gin (Plymouth; Old Tom).

I had thought that barack palinka was made with apricots, but hey, who knows.

Why not Cretan raki?

There's probably more thujone in your average pork sausage, as it is basically also found in a rather innocuuous and readily-available plant known as sage.

Not in the variety used for culinary purposes, though.
posted by kenko at 7:06 PM on September 21, 2006


Becherovka is some weird stuff. I've got some in my freezer and we generally use it as an end-of-the-night drink. Smells horrid, and doesn't really taste all that hot either.

And yet somehow, we keep coming back to it. Masochism? Dunno. It's good-bad.
posted by smeger at 8:25 PM on September 21, 2006


I prefer potka tincture, myself.
posted by melt away at 8:25 PM on September 21, 2006


What, no love for the Asti spumante of hooch?
posted by rob511 at 10:39 PM on September 21, 2006


kenko, yes, I should have said "confusing" rather than "misleading" on the gin/jenever thing. Also, yes, some tsipouro does come like ouzo, as does some raki. Cretan raki is a worthy addition to the list, though, and I had a delicious shot or three from Rethymno a couple of months ago!
posted by imperium at 3:54 AM on September 22, 2006


Oooh, yeah, raki. That's good stuff.

Another grappa-like drink that I've fallen for is pisco, from Peru. There's "pisco Italiano", which is in fact exactly like grappa, but I prefer the "pisco puro", made from red grapes. My favorite brand so far is Biondi.

Wow, in Googling Biondi I discovered that there's a website called PiscoMall. Awesome.
posted by gurple at 9:20 AM on September 22, 2006


I will agree Unicum is the nastiest liquor. It even has a nasty name.
posted by Durhey at 3:37 PM on September 22, 2006


Agreed on the nastiness of Unicum. A friend of mine uses Zwack shots to initiate n00bs. The looks on their faces are priceless. It's like having a mouthful of old tarnished pennies mixed with cigarette ash and tar. Ugh.

I'm pretty sure I've had Poitin too, back around '89-'90 or so, but that was actually decent. Kinda like getting hit in the back of the head after having a drink of water.
posted by lekvar at 3:53 PM on September 22, 2006


The thing about slivovitz is that it has the eerie capacity of making one at once blind stinking drunk, and yet incredibly lucid, focused and creative. I wrote the majority of my undergraduate papers while tossing back shots of the slop, and only stopped upon reading a newspaper story listing the urethane content of a range of alcoholic beverages: slivovitz was so high on the list I became convinced my liver was halfway to becoming a skateboard wheel. However, for occasional writing spree, it does the job better than anything else. And one of the greatest records of 1978 was recorded on it!
posted by Scram at 9:48 PM on September 22, 2006


what, no pruno?
posted by dozo at 7:03 PM on September 23, 2006


« Older CDC Recommends it for Everyone between 13 and 60...  |  The legendary and influential ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments