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Another Portland Blog

Friday, June 13, 2008

 

Absinthe makes the heart grow drunker

After a half-hearted six month search I finally consumed legalized absinthe within US borders a few weeks ago. In the weeks leading up to this, I heard rumors that bottles could be found at liquor stores around town. A trip to the Pearl Specialty Market last winter turned up nothing and I never got a chance to follow-up on a reader's tip that absinthe could be found at a liquor shop tucked inside the Garden Home Thriftway.

The opportunity presented itself at the Highland Stillhouse in Oregon City, a tavern that typically caters to all things Scottish. A few friends and I were sitting in the Highland's upstairs parlor when I noticed a chalkboard on the wall with a tell-tale green fairy drawn on it. The Highland has two different kinds of absinthe on hand, an 80-proof and 120-proof, if memory serves. We went with the 80. Because it's cheaper and I am cheap.




For $8 a head the bartender brought out a clear bottle, tumblers, sugar cubes, absinthe spoons, the whole bit. I've heard reports that the stuff that's now legal in the US is a bastardized version of what you can find overseas and that the level of wormwood mixed-in is supposedly lower. I'm no expert but I once embarrassed myself by ordering absinthe in a UK bar and, for me at least, the varieties available at the Highlands seemed to pack the same punch. Maybe the effects are psychosomatic but I'm convinced that absinthe offers a different sort of drunkenness than your average liquor.

None of us spotted Tinkerbell floating around afterwards though. Maybe she arrives sometime after a third glass but I wasn't willing to contend with a bar tab that would get me that far.

On a related note, I'm convinced the Highlands has the best bar bathroom in the Portland metro area. I don't think any other drinking establishment here can top its English inn decor. If only all public potties could be described as "cozy." Here's a cell phone photo that doesn't even come close to capturing the bed and breakfast feel of it:



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