Meet the Distiller: J. Absinthia Vermut (Absinthia's Absinthe)
J. Absinthia Vermut has been making absinthe in the Bay Area since 1997, a year after she first tried it at an event being hosted by the San Francisco Cacophony Society. This was during the days of absinthe prohibition, “and no one really knew how to make it right,” she said. That first taste sparked a lifelong love of the Green Fairy. Back then her “first absinthe was a wormwood tincture with green coloring added,” she admits. Today, however, Absinthia’s Absinthe an award-winning, organically certified, absinthe blanche.
One decade after she first began making absinthe, the Federal Tax and Trade Bureau clarified their rules over how much thujone (the essence that comes from wormwood) absinthe could contain. Without any law being passed, absinthe was now legal to be manufactured again in America. When she heard the news, Absinthia decided to make a 100-percent organic absinthe. “My absinthe is made from neutral grape spirits, distilled from biodynamic, organic certified grapes, grown in California. The herbs are organically grown in Oregon.”
Aside from using high-quality, organic ingredients, “One thing that truly sets us apart from the other absinthes on the market is that we use fresh wormwood, not dried,” she says. “This prevents it from taking on the bitter notes found in many other absinthes.”
In 2018, Absinthia won two awards, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition’s Gold Medal and the New York International Spirits Competition’s Gold Medal. “In twenty years, I have gone from an absinthe bootlegger to the owner of an award-winning organic absinthe company,” Absinthia says proudly.
Absinthia’s favorite way to drink absinthe? “Place an ice cube in a cup, pour room temperature absinthe over it, then swirl it around until it forms a milky-white louche.” Having made absinthe for two decades, she is well-aware that many people don’t like it straight. She caters to this crowd by curating recipes on her website, and now has over 100 recipes available, including one for the time-honored Sazerac (recipe available online at www.abvmagazine.com). — Mitchell Colbert
Absinthia’s Bottled Spirits