Absinthe has a long, romanticized and generally misunderstood history, one linked to literary giants, false accusations of psychoactive properties and the lore of drinking cultures in France, London and New Orleans. Banned in many countries until recently, the herb-based liqueur has made a comeback, and now there's a locally made version on the market.
The upstart New Orleans distillery Atelier Vie recently released Toulouse Red, an absinthe distilled with hibiscus flowers to give it a candy-apple red color in the bottle. The classic preparation calls for it to be diluted with water, which produces a pale pink beverage – a significant departure from the traditional green color that lent the drink its fin de siecle nickname "the green fairy."
It retails for $60 a bottle and is available locally at restaurants, bars and retail shops (see the "where to buy" page at www.ateliervie.com).
Earlier this year, the distillery released a strong vodka called Buck 25, a reference to its 125 proof (or 62.5 percent alcohol). The overproof spirit is aimed at craft cocktail makers, allowing them to add more ingredients to the glass with less vodka while maintaining the same alcohol content.
Atelier Vie is based in the Art Egg Studios, a repurposed industrial space in Mid-City.