Virgin America: Now, with Absinthe.

Starting in May, the airline that offers Boing Boing Video episodes as an entertainment option, the same airline that allowed us to name one of their planes "Unicorn Chaser" -- well, they're going to start serving absinthe in the skies. At left, the "herbal liqueur" company's spokesfairies, who may or may not appear magically in the seat next to you.

Le Tourment Vert's website offers some interesting cocktail recipes, including "Corpse Reviver II."

Fun facts about this beverage: yes, it is legal in the USA. Yes, it contains thujone. I do not know if it will cause you to hallucinate, but it is indeed brewed with wormwood. More about Le Tourment Vert (in French: "The Green Torment") from absinthe aficionado website

INGREDIENTS (as found in all traditional absinthes) Holy Trinity: Anise, Fennel & Grand Wormwood (Artemisia Absinthium). Plus, it contains aromatic herbs including Sage, Rosemary and Coriander. Le Tourment Vert contains the maximum dosage of thujone currently allowed by the United States Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).
Incidentally, Virgin America (which today started service to/from Orange County) is also expanding the number of craft in its fleet that offer in-flight WiFi. Absinthe + internet + idle time? Can't wait to read the mile-high tweets that result.


  1. It’s my understanding that absinthe may contain up to 10mg/liter of thujone and still be legal for sale in the US.

    1. Whoah, error on my part — “Vert contains “the maximum dosage of thujone currently allowed by the United States Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).” Have corrected the post!

  2. This would be great to drink while flying aboard the Unicorn Chaser. Then you would actually believe you were chasing unicorns.

  3. And you can watch BoingBoing Video while enjoying your absinthe on the Unicorn Chaser! Cheers!

    Does the spokesfairy come with the absinthe?

  4. Perfect. I’ve always felt that the stench of anise would only improve being stuck in a sealed container for several hours.

  5. Absinthe is incredibly overrated. It’s “effects” are almost entirely tied to the alcohol content.

    It is, essentially, green Ouzo or Sambucca.

  6. Supposedly the hallucination thing is just an urban legend. The amount you’d have to drink to experience any significant effect would have long since killed you from alcohol poisoning.

  7. Last time I got drunk on absinthe (it’s completely legal in the UK, my nearest Tesco stocks two brands) I decided it did have something extra to it.

    On the other hand, I was drunk, so I’m not sure I’m to be trusted on that.

    I don’t know if it’s because I’m no longer 18, or because it just became fashionable for a couple of years, but I haven’t seen anyone order it for a long time (excluding complicated cocktails including it as an ingredient).

  8. Your beloved Virgin America is adding fees for checked baggage, making them greedy swine just like every other airline out there. Boo! Sorry Virgin, I’m back to JetBlue and Southwest instead.

  9. Absinthe is a wonderful thing. I got some in Europe and it was fantastic! No hallucinations, but I would do it again in a heartbeat! Magical!

  10. In my experience, Absinthe gets you drunk way faster and way crazier than, say, plain vodka.

  11. Hi,

    I live in the Czech Republic.

    Absinthe is the disgusting shit that tourists drink. It seems to serve no other purpose. It certainly tastes horrible – like oversweetened mouthwash.

    Most absinthe contains a tiny amount of wormwood compared to what it used to have. i.e. it won’t make you feel like Baudelaire did, nowhere close.

    What it will do is give you a horrible hangover, maybe even before you leave the bar.

    Here’s a tip. When you come to Prague, instead of drinking absinthe, enjoy the site of some people (possibly american college girls but I’ll not stereotype anyone here ;) doing a couple shots of absinthe and watching the degradation within minutes. From red cheeks, to laughter, to massaging each other, to stumbling around, to resembling an overripe slime mold.

    enjoy, cheers, na zdravi ;-)))

  12. Hey, the placebo effect is still an effect. And the rituals and paraphernalia are fun, even if the stuff tastes like pastis flavored with lawn trimmings.

    The flight attendant probably isn’t going to let you light a sugar cube on fire, though, even in first class.

  13. can’t drink it straight. don’t mind it mixed, and I’ve had many hangover- free nights with it… but never a hallucination.

  14. Airship@~13: Absinthe tastes like unicorn vomit.

    How do you know? Let us know what leprechaun piss tastes like too, while you’re at it. ;D

  15. Wow, frogmarch, you left the average American in the dust with that post. I nearly snorted coffee on “pastis flavored with lawn trimmings”. I bet you could buy that in Provence, though, somebody ought to do a comparison.

    The absinthe featured in Guy de Maupassaint tales had 5 to ten times as much wormwood, people who indulged got all crazy and people who overindulged got all dead.

  16. No Hallucinations, and you’ve got to like the flavor. It still has the mystery appeal, so it should gain some more popularity.
    The ritual is fun, and I had no hangover from a higher end bottle.

  17. Having both made absinthe and tried the real thing in europe I’d have to say that the only reason it’s different than other liquor is that the alchohol content is usually around 60% or higher (120 proof).
    The guy that makes lucid absinthe ran samples of vintage pre-ban absinthe through a gas chromatograph and discovered that the levels of thujone were miniscule – definitely not enough to cause hallucinations.
    Here’s an article in wired about it.
    Basically, it seems that all the hallucinations and ear chopping and all that were due to heavy metal poisoning from fake absinthe.

  18. I’ve been drinking Pernod for years, ever since I visited France. It’s actually based on absinthe without the wormwood, and it’s much, MUCH, better than absinthe. It’s had 50+ years to evolve its taste to the people of France’s tastebuds. Pernod is actually the most consumed (non-wine) alcohol in France. Instead of beer, they just pour about a shot of Pernod in a big tall glass and fill the rest with ice cold water (no ice though).

    Still, the whole absinthe craze is actually making me embarrassed to buy Pernod, I feel like I’m on the hipstertrain to douchetown.

  19. “Hallucinations and madness” from Absinthe. Yet another myth about alcohol started and propagated by fundamentalist assholes wishing to ban all use.

    Talk about a liquor so horrible that it can actually chase young experimenters away from the habit…but no. Due to legend, it’s now more mysterious and desirable than ever before.

    Excellent work, jeebus freaks!

  20. The Green Torment is the most godawful disgusting swill that has ever called itself absinthe in the US. It rivals some of the horrible czechsinths in its unpalatable grossness… looking and tasting of mouthwash!

    I hope they start serving some decent brands(there are a number which are great… Leopold Brothers, Kubler, Marteau, etc) as well. LTV turns many off absinthe before they have a chance to taste the real thing.

  21. absinthe is the stuff american hipsters drink to feel cool, even if they don’t like the taste.

    pastis (like pernod) is the real world equivalent that Frenchmen drink to quench thirst and please the tastesbuds.

  22. #14:

    “Most absinthe contains a tiny amount of wormwood compared to what it used to have. i.e. it won’t make you feel like Baudelaire did, nowhere close.”

    Got any sources on that?

    According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, you’re talking out of your ass.

    “The analysis of postban (1915–1988) and modern commercial absinthes (2003–2006) showed that the encompassed thujone ranges of all absinthes are quite similar, disproving the supposition that a fundamental difference exists between preban and modern absinthes manufactured according to historical recipes. Analyses of pinocamphone, fenchone, base spirits, copper, and antimony were inconspicuous. All things considered, nothing besides ethanol was found in the absinthes that was able to explain the syndrome “absinthism”.”

  23. Read this article on Ted Breaux, a New Orleans native, chemist and environmental microbiologist, who makes absinthe based on pre-ban protocols and the chemical analysis of a sealed bottle of the stuff from the 1800’s. It seems that there is a huge difference in quality of the available absinthes. I have have yet to try anything but homebrew versions, but I think a sampling of the well made stuff would be worth it.

  24. #28

    I actually thought this was directed at me, so I read it.

    “In the antique absinthes he had collected, the thujone content was an order of magnitude smaller than Arnold’s predictions. In many instances, it was a homeopathically minuscule 5 parts per million.”

    5 parts per million. That’s not only small… that’s HALF the amount that current US regulations allow in Absinthe. The US allows 10 parts per million.

    Boy, that shit Oscar Wilde used to drink ain’t nothin’ compared to what we got.

    And what we got is a green licorice spirit that produces no effects beyond that of green beer at St. Patrick’s Day.

  25. Ted Breaux’s absinthes can be found here:

    I’ve tried his Edouard and quite enjoyed it, but I’m also a big fan of pastis. You have to really like things flavored with anise, but Breaux’s varieties are a lot more nuanced than the few versions available in Canada (particularly the Czech stuff, which is quite harsh and not especially improved by the addition of sugar).

  26. Straight absinthe doesn’t do much for me, but I’ve had some good absinthe cocktails — absinthe and champagne (“Death in the afternoon”) is pretty good.

  27. I have tried this particular brand, Le Tourment Vert, and I must say, it is terrible. It may be the worst absinthe available in the U.S. right now. Perhaps the grossest part is the artificial coloring that makes it look like mouthwash.

  28. “I do not know if it will cause you to hallucinate”

    Maybe you should check the facts before you post?
    No, no it won’t.

  29. The thing about absinthe is, it’s sort of a stimulant and a depressant at the same time, which for me, at least, results in a feeling of being “speedy drunk.”

    In my experience, there’s no better lubricant for breaking down a story or busting out a pile of notecards on a big involved project than a dose or two of (good, NOT Czech) absinthe.

  30. #33: ‘Death in the Afternoon’, also known as a Hemingway is my fave. It’s my birthday drink.
    Absinthe hangovers are bad, granted, but only if you’ve never been a regular Carlsberg Special Brew drinker. Nothing beats a Tramp Juice hangover.

  31. Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.

    I think you mean the rather more enjoyable “Absinthe makes the tart grow fonder”

  32. Absinthe’s reputtion for inducing madness probably has more to do with the fact that the people most known for drinking it were artists, poets, writers and other artistic types who are already known for being a wee bit on the loopy side.

  33. Le Tourment Verte was guilty of hiring a PR firm, Cashmere Agency, whose online outreach strategy amounted to astroturfing in the comments and spamming bloggers.

    You can read about it here: A Jigger of Blog: “The Great Astroturf Pushback of Aught Nine.

    After a group of leading cocktail bloggers publicly called out Cashmere and LTV, the PR firm was fired and LTV did a lot of outreach to the offended bloggers.

    Matt Browner Hamlin

  34. Wow, pity they’re serving Le Tourment Vert, which tastes like used Scope.

    Ted Breaux’s Absinthes are quite good (except Lucid, which having been “Adjusted for American tastes”, also tastes like used scope).

    My personal favorite, though, is St. George, made on the former NAS Alameda by the same guys that do Hangar One vodka.

  35. Virgin Atlantic’s international flights have already been selling La Fee Absinthe Parisienne, 68%abv, the full size 75cl bottles in their inflight duty-free for US$50 for quite a while. They were the first airline in the world to EVER sell absinthe (La Fee) duty-free, and now serve it as well. The La Fee is a traditional French absinthe which “louches” – goes cloudy – like Pastis, and tastes of anise. It’s much stronger than Le Tourment Vert as its 68%abv (136 degrees proof), while Le Tourment is a lower abv. with a different taste. So Virgin are the only airline to be both selling AND now serving absinthe inflight.

  36. Absinthe reminds me of the kids in the movie “Go” who believed they were tripping balls when all they took was an aspirin. “Ohh! I can feel it!” I’m sure there’s some kind of effect, but compared to legitimate reality-wrecking drugs it’s got to be a complete lightweight.

    However, it is still alcohol. So it can still fuck you up plenty good.

  37. Absinthe can be quite delcious, but La Tourment Vert, as others have noted, is pretty bad. I stupidly bought a full bottle because I liked how it looked. I also tend to think that absinthe is a bad choice for flying, since the traditional absinthe drip requires one to set a sugar cube on fire, which I’m guessing the FAA would frown on.

  38. @47, certainly my evidence is anecdotal, but yes, some people, who are way too old and engineerish to be hip or a hipster do like absinthe. Licorice liquor- what is not to like?

  39. When I had absinthe (true absinthe, not the American variety) in Canada, it had a more of an affect on me that consuming alcohol. Maybe I’m missing some scientific data that disputes my experience, but I don’t understand where people are coming from when they say its a placebo affect.

    The added “high,” if you will, was very mild and no where close to an hallucination, but it did have an altered state apart from the buzz of alcohol. (In specifics, I remember the the quality of the sunlight was richer, more vibrant, and softer at the same time).

    My friends who had bought the bottle paid dearly for it, so maybe there’s a variable here of quality vs qauntity as well.

  40. Drinking absinthe, twittering, and burning Jet-A.

    When Virgin Air flights start disappearing from radar, I guess we’ll know what happened. They imploded into micro-black-holes of SWPL irony.

  41. Great news. Keep using that wormwood for absinthe rather than malaria! If we can get the price high enough, wormwood will no longer be a cost-effective alternative for curing malaria.

  42. Le Tourment Vert is the WORST absinthe on the market. I saw it at the liquor store a few weeks ago, and decided to try it (admittedly I was swayed by the pretty bottle). Awful, and expensive at that.

  43. The assumption has been made in this thread that I was being disparaging when I asserted that absinthe tastes like unicorn vomit. Nothing could be further from the truth!

    Everything emitted by a unicorn is delightful and enjoyable. Their vomit has a subtle, sweet flavor and a smooth, velvety texture. It resembles kiwi jelly spiked with fairy dust and starlight, only better.

    Their poop is actually Twinkies. Why do you think Hostess allows no tours of their Twinkie factory? Because it’s full of unicorns pooping.

    As to leprechaun piss, everything that comes out of a leprechaun is vile and disgusting. I have no need to sample it to know that this is so. Just a whiff of a leprechaun’s breath will cause a strong man’s lungs to collapse in agony. Sample a leprechaun’s piss? I think not!

  44. The first “absinthe” I had was that LTV dreck, on my birfday last year. The restaurant here in Oregon did the Czech flame job on the neon-aqua synth-sinthe, and all I got was licorice liqueur. Blech!

    Now I know better. The real McCoy is tinted only with chlorophyl, no food dyes, and the sugar is optional and not to be burnt. Usually dilute the good stuff from 3:1 to 5:1. The “louche” occurs from the aromatic oils forming tiny droplets in suspension in the water when the icewater is added.

    I’ve had some yummy Kubler Blanche since then, and look forward to affording a bottle of Marteau, or La Coquette. I’d also like to try anything by Jade Liqueurs, especially the PF 1901, but such are kinda hard to come by. Thankfully the Marteau is in a local shop!

    As was already linked to, I also recommend for a bit of light green reading.

    ps: after the discussion of unicorns and Twinkie factories, I am brought to wonder if there are reaction clips on youtube to the new “2U1C” vid… *ducks quickly*

    1. I’ve only ever had homemade absinthe. In fact we used to take it to the local pub to share with the bartenders.

  45. pps re: Le Torment Vert: srsly gorgeous bottle tho. Why can’t I just append this to my last post? Kthxbai.

  46. In “my opinion” Ltv is just high priced swill.
    It is only slightly better than Fruko Shultz, Tabu
    or Hapsburg and the like. The only difference being
    That LTV has a marketing firm “Cashmere” to harass
    bloggers and shove their product down everyone’s
    throats and to shut down people critical of their swill. And with the extra added Blue 40 and
    Yellow #5 it hardly qualifies as absinthe. If it looks and tastes like mouthwash it probably is. Especially with that minty taste. Not to mention the fact that it barely louches. Also I must add Thujone is an neurotoxin that will cause brain lesions and sesiures before you will ever get to trip balls.

  47. you want a drink that will make you more than drunk try 1\2oz of nuggs put in a half bottle of everclear and let soke for a mouth use pantyhoze to strain the weed out then drink

  48. Absinthe does not cause hallucinations. Copper poisoning likely does though, which probably explains where that myth came from. But the good ones do give you an excellent buzz that is different and better than traditional liquor. LTV is one of the worst ones I’ve tried, along with a few artificially colored Czech ones. Your standard $60/bottle ones are very good. The best low priced one is Kubler which is around $40 for a liter. One of the advantages of drinking Absinthe vs liquor is that you only need about 4 drinks containing one shot each throughout a night to feel good and there is no hangover. 5 oz Absinthe + 15 oz water + small amount of ice makes for no hangover, trust me. I usually sweeten it with stevia or splenda as sugar is also a hangover culprit. Its not for everyone but I enjoy it more than any liquor and virtually any beer or wine and I have never gotten a single hangover after drinking it about 50 times.

Comments are closed.