Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mata Hari

The Non-Absinthe Lovers’ Absinthe

“I don’t like absinthe but I love Mata Hari,” declared a friend, recently. And, I can understand why. Mata Hari tastes more like an herb-infused liqueur than black licorice. It is yummy, and would suit herbaceous cocktails well – but I am not sure it is an absinthe in the way most of us think of a traditional French absinthe.

Personally, I love Absinthe. And, I grew up on Pastis (a popular Souther French liqueur tasting of black licorice, which which came into popularity when absinthe was banned.) I tried Mata Hari twice to make sure I was not missing something.

Here’s my take on it:

- When I pour it into my glass, it smells floral, herbal, which is quite lovely, even if not completely what one would expect from absinthe.
- When I place the absinthe spoon over the mouth of the glass and drizzle in ice cold water over a sugar cube, the liquid does not go immediately pale and opaque, as with traditional absinthe and pastis. Mata Hari gets a little cloudy, more so over the next few minutes, but remains abalone shell green.
- It has a mild flavor. There is a bit of a “burn” in the aftertaste which is not indicative of a high-end spirit.
- Frankly, I miss the noted black licorice taste of absinthe.

My conclusion:

Mata Hari is a wonderful mixing spirit, especially for citrus or herb-based cocktails. It is great for people who don’t really like absinthe but want to feel like they are part of the absinthe movement. It tastes good, overall, but it is not the first product I’d reach for if looking to do an absinthe presentation for friends or as part of The Liquid Muse Cocktail Classes featuring absinthe. However, is a tasty herbal liqueur, which will stay in my home bar and surely be enjoyed by many a cocktail-lover.

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