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Reintroducing the Original Recipe for Herbsaint

If each trip out of the house during the holidays—always with the best of intentions to get your shopping done—results in you huddled over a drink at a nearby bar, hiding from the crazed mass, then you may be in luck.  Turns out that Sazerac Company has recreated the original Herbsaint recipe, dating back to 1934, and has bottled it behind a vintage label.  So now a trip to the liquor store is all you need to please your friends and family.  If that doesn’t say Merry Christmas, then I’m not sipping an Old Fashioned at 2:30 in the afternoon.

From NOLA.com

A new bottle that looks antique will appear on liquor store shelves this week. In honor of the 75th anniversary of Herbsaint, the local Sazerac Company dug into its archives for the original recipe and recreated the absinthe substitute first sold in 1934.

Over the years, the Sazerac company changed the recipe for Herbsaint. The proof was lowered from 100 to 90. The fresh herbs were replaced with extracts. Except for a few loyal drinkers, today it’s mainly used for cooking. The legalization of true absinthe in 2007 made Herbsaint even less popular as a cocktail ingredient.

Two years ago, Kevin Richards of the Sazerac Company found the original recipe. While absinthe is made by distilling the bitter Artemisia absinthium and other herbs, Herbsaint infuses the herbs into a base spirit. A sack filled with herbs, not unlike a giant teabag, is steeped in the alcohol. Because the herbs, such as mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), are not distilled, more of their flavor survives in the final product.

The Sazerac Company plans to produce both the 90 proof Herbsaint and the 100 proof Herbsaint Original, which retails for $34.99. It should be in New Orleans bars and stores this week. The rest of the country won’t get to taste Herbsaint Original until after the New Year.

While the article contends that Herbsaint is most often used for cooking, plenty of bartenders continue to make Sazeracs with Herbsaint, and it fares well in other drinks requiring a pastis, like the Corpse Reviver #2.  But regardless, at $34.99, the 100 proof Herbsaint Original makes a hell of a gift.

Written by Kevin Gray

1 Comment

  1. Sean · December 24, 2009

    Had no idea they changed the proof… grant it, it probably happened long ago, but it’s like how Jack Daniels sneakily lowered its proof from 86 to 80. Not cool.

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