Sample Oakland-made Absinthe at Cask

Oakland's J. Absinthia Vermut began bootlegging the wormwoody spirit in 1997.


Image courtesy of Absinthia's Bottled Spirits

A tasting of Absinthia's Bottled Spirits absinthe, made in Oakland with organic ingredients, is set for this Friday, Feb. 2 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Cask in San Francisco, which is owned by the same group that helms Berkeley bar Tupper & Reed.

After first sampling the historic spirit amongst fellow Burning Man comrades, then becoming fascinated by its flavor and persnickety illegality, "I began bootlegging absinthe in 1997, and after four years of legal shenanigans and, on the good days, recipe development, my local, organic, and 100 percent woman-owned absinthe is available" in local venues, said J. Absinthia Vermut, who also co-owns Oakland's NickelDime Syrups, makers of Caged Heat. 

Her formula "is based on several vintage Swiss recipes and made in California with all West Coast organic ingredients, including biodynamic grapes and fresh organic wormwood," explained Vermut, a New York University grad who at the 2016 Nightclub & Bar Show was named Entrepreneur of the Year.

"Since its release in late September, my absinthe is available at Slanted Door, Absinthe Brasserie and Bar, Camino, Bar Agricole, Bergerac, Alchemy Bottle Shop, Cask on 3rd, PlumpJack Wine and Spirits, Bitters & Bottles, Valette Restaurant, and more, with Loews Hotel and the Rosewood Hotel in the pipeline," Vermut said.

While awaiting the tasting, try Vermut's recipe for a Sleepy Hollow cocktail (depicted above):

½ ounce absinthe
2 ounces mezcal
1 oz St. Elizabeth allspice dram
2 dashes Angostura bitters
rosemary sprig, for garnish

Pour absinthe into a rocks glass; swirl to coat, and discard liqueur.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add mezcal, St. Elizabeth, and 2 dashes of bitters. Strain cocktail into a glass over ice. Light rosemary with a lighter or culinary torch until smoking and place it in the glass. Serve immediately.

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