October 14, 2009

What Would Hemingway Drink?

To resuscitate our occasional forays into the history of drink, we set out recently on a bold experiment, one that broadens our original experimental mission.

One might, of course, argue that this is a departure from our prior tests of pre-phylloxera vines under the Thomas Jefferson rubric, or the Julius Caesar umbrella we employed for wines made in terra cotta amphorae. You could say this is more about nostalgia, less about historical inquiry.

I wouldn't disagree. But someone told me that Hemmingway's favorite drink was something called Death in the Afternoon, and I was immediately intrigued by the name. Google told me the drink was a noxious combination of absinthe and Champagne.

I'd like to point out in advance, given my recent illness, drinking this was a really stupid idea.

But absinthe has recently made a legalized comeback (2007) and the allure of chasing in Papa's boozy footprints was too exciting to resist.

Absinthe? From the Times: "a neutral spirit infused with myriad herbs and botanicals, centering around anise, fennel and a specific type of wormwood, Artemisia absinthium, from which absinthe takes its name. This wormwood contains small amounts of thujone, a compound once thought to affect the mind. It’s understood now that hallucinations and other health issues attributed to overindulging in absinthe were more a result of alcohol poisoning due to the high alcohol content, typically 50 to 70 percent."

Details of the "experiment" up next.

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