From Prague, For the Absinthe-Minded

Dude, I got so wasted on absinthe last night…

If you’ve spent some time in Prague, you have heard this line one too many times. Walk into any bar on the beaten path and you will almost for sure see a group of American college students doing shots of the bright green liquor, which they think (or hope) will make them hallucinate.

The funny thing is that most of the stuff they sell here in the Czech Republic is not even absinthe. Not only is it not derived from wormwood, but it does not contain thujone (which is exactly the substance that many countries regulate heavily for its alleged hallucinogenic effects.) Generally, the brighter the color, the more fake it probably is. Don’t get me wrong – you can still get a mean hangover if you drink this stuff, but that’s mostly because the “green liquids” contain 60 percent alcohol and some food coloring. If you really want to go over the top, try that stuff with Red Bull. Make sure to sign up for life insurance well in advance though.

If you want to taste the real thing, you can still do it, but don’t expect to pay $3 per shot. It will be more like $10. For example, the Czech company L’OR makes The King of Spirits (see picture), which is the real thing containing 10mg of thujone. A bottle of this will set you back around $60. If you want the King of Spirits Gold, which contains 100mg of thujone and is illegal even to sell even in the Czech Republic, is available to ship for $200+