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In the Red

Local Atelier Vie Distillery Releases their new Toulouse Red Absinthe, a hibiscus infused Big Easy spirit



Christmas shoppers in the market for local presents need look no further than Atelier Vie's Toulouse Red. The plans for a locally produced Absinthe have been in the works since July, and the crimson creation is finally ready for purchase. 

 

The scarlet spirit hasn’t hit grocery store shelves, but you can try it at St. Marie (930 Poydras St.) where it’s already received some rave reviews.

 

Atelier Vie Founder Jedd Haas recently released the potent Buck 25 vodka, but his main goal since opening up shop has been to produce a local absinthe. 

 

“It’s real interesting to bring absinthe back to New Orleans,” said Haas. “There used to be three or four absinthe manufacturers here, and a lot of French absinthe was being shipped here since the 1800’s,” he said. “It really resonates with the local scene.”

 

December 5 is also “Prohibition Repeal Day,” and Haas said the release date for the new product couldn’t be more apt. “We thought it was a symbolically inviting day,” said Haas. “It’s also one hundred years after the Absinthe ban of 1912,” he said.

 

As the name implies, Atelier Vie’s absinthe is a stark contrast from its green predecessors. The deep red color comes from the hibiscus flowers used in the infusion process. “It’s definitely a different taste from what people are used to with green absinthe. Oftentimes it can be a little on the bitter side, and people will drip water on a sugar cube,” said Haas. “You don’t really have to with this.”

 

Haas said the liquor has a “natural, sweet taste,” with no sugar added. Don’t let the licorice and hibiscus fool you, the Toulouse Red is potent. At 136 proof and 68 percent ABV, it’s intended to be served diluted.

 

Unfortunately, consumers won't be seeing any red or green fairies dance around after they imbibe. The myth that absinthe contains hallucinogenic properties has its roots in the 19th Century, and 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.

 

“Typically what you do is pour a little bit in your glass with iced water,” Haas explained. “It’s about the same proof as a strong wine when served that way.” The distiller also said that the standard ratio for water-to-absinthe varies between three to one and five to one.

 

However, those proportions can change for special occasions, namely Saints games. “It’s an effective improvised anesthetic in the event that the game takes an unfortunate turn,” Haas laughed. “Hopefully, you’ll be drinking it in celebration and not in pain.”

 

Along with football, Toulouse Red also pairs well with oysters, Haas said.

 

A list of distributors will be released to the distillery’s website within the next couple of days, but ambitious absinthe drinkers can head to Atelier Vie (1001 S. Broad) on Saturday from 10am to noon and buy their bottles.

 

“We’re authorized to sell sealed bottles directly from the distillery,” said Haas. Toulouse Red will sell for around $60 per bottle, which Haas explained is actually on the low end of the price scale.

 

“That might sound like a lot in terms of liquor,” said Haas, “but in terms of absinthe it’s on the lower level. The federal government taxes you on the amount of alcohol you have.” The typical bottle of absinthe ranges in price from $60 to $120. 

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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde

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