To the editors:
The following information is in response to A.C. Murphy of Atlanta, whose letter on absinthe you answered in the Chicago Reader [The Straight Dope] of 10 June.
1. Absinthe is obtainable over the counter in Portugal.
2. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) is still used in flavoring certain liqueurs and herbal bitters which are obtainable in liquor stores in the U.S. and Canada. Of these, the liqueur pelinkovac, which is made in Yugoslavia, has the most wormwood in it. The name is derived from pelin 'wormwood (Artemisia absinthium),' which constitutes its main flavoring agent. While some herbal bitters run as high as 90 proof, however, pelinkovac tends to be in the 60-65 proof range.
3. Pernod is 80.2 proof whereas Greek ouzo, as well as Arabic arak and Turkish raki, are available at 90 proof and higher.
4. Absinthe tastes and smells like a cross between ouzo and pelinkovac. A judicious blending of these with some Pernod for the sake of its additional ingredients and grain alcohol to raise the alcohol content comes pretty close to approximating absinthe.
Victor A. Friedman
Chapel Hill, North Carolina