The best absinthes should rarely, if ever, be consumed straight and have always been distilled at high strengths in order to be mixed with water. For the perfect serve, slowly add four to five parts iced water from a carafe, absinthe fountain or balancier. With Butterfly, some absinthe lovers will prefer not to pour the water over a sugar cube and, of course, there is absolutely no need to burn it.
For the perfect serve, slowly add 4 to 5 parts iced water and watch the metamorphosis as the liquid turns milky white with a hint of pastel green. Created more than 100 years ago for consumers looking for a slightly more accessible taste profile, Butterfly adds citrus and mint notes to the flavors of anise and fennel and the slight bitterness of wormwood.
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The backstory is a little complicated: first made in Boston circa 1902, it's now been resurrected in Switzerland, thanks to a Boston-based historian. The absinthe itself is more straightforward. It louches to cloudy pale yellow, releasing a mild, citrusy aroma. On the palate, the star anise flavor is assertive and bright, even when diluted with water, and backed by lemongrass and ginger.
Butterfly is the first pre-ban absinthe of American origin to return to the USA. It was originally made in Boston circa 1902 at the Dempsey Distillery on Merrimac Street. The brand was resurrected by Boston-based absinthe historian, Brian Fernald. An empty bottle and the 1905 trademark registration helped give Fernald a label design and, after years of research in local archives, he unearthed Dempsey’s handwritten recipe book.
Butterfly is produced by Claude-Alain Bugnon, Europe’s most famous absinthe distiller. More than 60 production steps are required to make Butterfly over a three day period from plant selection through maceration and distillation, to application of signed, dated and numbered labels. Plants include locally grown grande wormwood, petite wormwood, hyssop, melissa and peppermint and the finest imported anise, star anise, fennel and citrus.
Butterfly combines the best of both worlds: American heritage and recipe with Swiss “know how” and ingredients.
Enjoyed for hundreds of years in Europe as a restorative and cure for many types of maladies, Absinthe reached its peak popularity in late 19th and early 20th century Parisian bars and cafés where it was a favorite of Hemingway, Joyce, Van Gogh and Picasso. Similar to Gin, Absinthe is a neutral, high proof spirit (110 to 144) infused with a variety of herbs and botanicals. These typically include green anise, sweet fennel and grand wormwood. Absinthe is most often light green in color but can also be clear.