If you've ever wanted to delve into the world of absinthe but didn't want to experiment at the usual high price point, then this latest Colorado spirit proves perfect. Damn. Good. Absinthe Vert is one of three new releases from State 38 Distilling in Golden, and at $25 a bottle, it's a pain-free addition to your home bar.
"The Damn. Good. Spirits. line came about with the idea to still have the distillery in Golden provide top-quality booze in the bottle, but not spend so much on packaging," says Sean Smiley, founder of State 38. "It's less than half the price, which allows us to have higher production volume and reach more customers."
Unlike the beautiful, pricey bottles and burnt-edge labels of the State 38 brand, Damn. Good. Spirits. come in a simple vessel with a plastic cap and a clean label that clearly states the name, ingredients and proof — and not much else. The bottle might not look stunning on your bar cart, but it's what inside that really counts, and the absinthe vert tastes great, though you may need to cut it, given that it's 110 proof.
To make the spirit, Smiley highlights the soothing licorice flavors of star and green anise, along with bitter wormwood, cooling fennel, warm vanilla bean and refreshing mint. The latter proves solely responsible for the light-green hue of the absinthe, and it's something Smiley harvested himself from a massive mint bush at a colleague's house. In just two hours, he had picked two giant garbage bags full of the plant, which he took back to the distillery, cut, washed and let steep in a neutral corn spirit for more than seven days. The other ingredients also spend a good time soaking in booze, something that helps leech the flavor from the herbs into the liquid.
But why an absinthe? It's not a popular spirit, by any means, but it's also not super-rare in Colorado. Golden Moon Distillery (also in Golden) and Leopold Bros. (in northeast Denver) both make a version. Smiley says while these two examples are phenomenal, the market is ready for more. He adds that absinthe is fun to make and that it's gaining traction in the drinks world.
"The more and more I have been going to craft cocktail bars and restaurants that offer cool cocktails, I am noticing absinthe being used," he says. "The opportunity to bring a $25 bottle to bars and consumers, well, it puts absinthe in the price point where it's approachable to try out. "
Find Damn. Good. Absinthe Vert. at Spirit World Liquors (7156 Pecos Street), Molly's Spirits (5809 West 44th Avenue) and Mr. B's (2101 Market Street). Once you have a bottle in hand, you can put together the simple Absinthe Cheer by pouring one ounce of absinthe and five ounces of tonic water over ice, stirring and garnishing with a citrus twist. Vodka and gin are also being released under the Damn.Good. name.
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