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Absinthe-Minded

Atelier Vie Gearing Up to Bring Locally-Distilled Liquor to New Orleans



With the new “buy local,” movements springing up all over the country, it’s hard to believe that New Orleans ventures outside the South for some of its staples, especially alcohol. The city’s newest distillery heard the call for more locally available spirits and answered swiftly.

 

Atelier Vie, located at 1001 S. Broad St., is a couple technicalities away from inviting locals in to taste some real New Orleans-made absinthe, and eventually a few other yet-to-be-revealed spirits.

 

Founder Jedd Haas said that his transition into distilleries was a no-brainer.

 

“There’s a substantial interest in and consumption of beverage alcohol in New Orleans, but most of the money spent on that is going out of town to manufacture elsewhere. Old World New Orleans Rum led the way, NOLA Brewing is doing a fantastic job as well,” Haas said.

 

Not only is Atelier-Vie pro local, they also, “Take a very do-it-yourself kind of approach,” according to Haas. “We’ve been building a lot of our equipment in-house. We built our own control panel in-house, and we had a welder build another part for us.” 

 

The product was founded in 2011, and Haas is just a couple hoops away from opening up shop.

 

“We can distill now, but there’s still a few more approvals to go through. Our absinthe has to have a formula approval,” Haas said.

 

Haas explained why people get touchy about how absinthe is made and how it is packaged.

 

“Back in the day, there was this hysteria that absinthe was making people go crazy, so it was banned.”

 

Absinthe used to be packaged with an ingredient called thujone that regulators determined was the culprit.

 

“In 2007, the tax and trade bureau decided that absinthe could legally be distributed, as long as it was made sans thujone,” Haas said. The feds are also very particular about the labeling process.  

 

The Certificate of Label Approval, or COLA, comes with its own set of hurdles.

 

“You can’t actually call your product absinthe, you have to make what’s called a ‘fanciful name," Haas said.” For instance, a product designer could write something to the effect of 'absinthe is superior,' in the label design, but could not simply brand the spirit as “absinthe.”

 

Once the distillery’s products hit the streets, Haas hopes to invite absinthe lovers in for tours and tastings.

 

“We believe the New Orleans Micro Distillery Law (which was passed this year) specifically permits a tasting room in the back of a distillery, and we hope to offer tours and tastings as well,” Haas said.  

 

While Haas plans for Atelier-Vie to eventually venture outside of the absinthe market, they’re not ready to spill the beans on what's to come.

 

“We have a number of ideas, but we’re not ready to reveal them yet. We have to see what’s good,” Haas said.  

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