With a “no frills” approach to its bottle (which I appreciate) and a very low price point, Absinthe Ordinaire still manages to stand out on shelves.
At least from what I’ve seen in the US market, it’s fairly widely available!
This availability combined with the low price point of around $30 per bottle means that it is commonly many peoples’ introduction to absinthe and the world of the Green Fairy.
But is that a good or bad thing?
Let’s find out as we dig into this review of Absinthe Ordinaire!
What Is Absinthe Ordinaire?
Absinthe Ordinaire aims to bring back a recipe from the golden days of absinthe, La Belle Époque. In that spirit, it derives its name from absinthe’s creator, Dr. Pierre Ordinaire.
The recipe includes a full measure of Artemisia Absinthium or grande wormwood.
But things may not be exactly as they initially seem…
It is worth noting up front that Absinthe Ordinaire is not technically a real absinthe.
As it says on the bottle, Absinthe Ordinaire is a liqueur. It is bottled with sugar and artificially colored which is not the case with other “true” absinthes.
Thankfully, it does disclose this on the bottle and isn’t trying to hide it. I do have to give the distillers points for honesty.
Absinthe Ordinaire comes to us from Distilleries et Domaines de Provence in Forcalquier, France. It is a 92-proof liqueur which means that it contains 46% ABV.
With all of that covered, let’s get into the review!
The anise and licorice dominate the aromas, though the back end of the nose does reveal a kiss of mint.
While it’s certainly not a “one note” aroma, there isn’t a lot of complexity to be had here. It’s only fitting that the anise is the star of the show here, but I would like to get more from the other herbs.
What I found particularly curious about Absinthe Ordinaire’s aroma is that the louche didn’t seem to bring out any new notes.
With virtually any absinthe, there will be certain aromas that don’t make themselves known until water is added and the louche begins to form.
I perhaps pick up a slight (and I do mean very slight) presence of fennel once the louche has formed, but that might also be a bit of wishful thinking.
It’s certainly not a bad aroma, though. It’s just not as complex as I would hope.
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Color & Louche
Pouring Absinthe Ordinaire into the glass, the color is clear and brilliantly green, but not naturally so.
While I’m certainly not a fan of adding food coloring to absinthe, I’m at least glad that they didn’t go crazy with it and make it “nuclear waste green” as some others do.
I did find myself surprised at the louche that appears when preparing Absinthe Ordinaire.
The louche is immediate and actually comes on quite strong. While there’s usually an element of suspense as the water reacts with the oils in the absinthe, this was just like “BAM!”
Of course, it will thin and balance out as you continue adding water.
The louche itself is a pale yellow-green (perhaps slightly too green thanks to the food coloring).
However, it does have more texture than I had expected. While subtle, there is a layer of swirling oils in the glass which at least speaks to the presence of the herbs.
Regular readers will know that this is a key part of what I look for when preparing absinthe.
But most importantly of all, we must evaluate the flavor of Absinthe Ordinaire. As important as the aroma and color are, it’s the flavor that ultimately matters most of all!
Fitting with the aromas, Absinthe Ordinaire is very anise-forward. No doubt this will be almost all that you can taste for the first few sips.
However, once your palate is accustomed to how direct the anise flavor is and how it serves as a type of constant “throughline” for the experience, you’ll start noticing the other flavors.
Sweet and fresh notes of fennel, coriander, and peppermint carry through beneath the surface. At the end of the sip, you’ll get that slightly bitter pinch from the wormwood paired with the remaining flavors of the mint and anise.
While there is more going on here than the aroma lets on, it’s still an unpretentious flavor. It’s not a complex flavor, but it is still pleasant to sip and roll across the palate.
Note that I would advise not preparing Absinthe Ordinaire with sugar.
While it’s not painfully sweet, there’s enough sugar in the bottle that you should only need to prepare it with water.
Skipping the sugar for my second glass, I enjoyed it much more.
Conclusion – Absinthe Ordinaire Review
It’s kind of funny.
Absinthe Ordinaire tends to receive a lot of unfair criticism, but it will also commonly receive a lot of undue praise.
Some “expert critics” might clutch their pearls because I have literally anything good to say about Absinthe Ordinaire. Others are bound to think I’m being too hard on it.
But when you look at the space that it occupies in the absinthe market, it becomes easier to make a fair judgment.
No, this is not a garbage option simply because it’s not as good as options that are three times its price. But we also can’t claim that it’s “basically the same” as those higher-quality absinthes.
To give credit where it’s due, Absinthe Ordinaire isn’t a bad option for those looking to begin exploring the world of absinthe. I’d definitely recommend it over something like Absente.
It’s a low-risk option that shows off some of absinthe’s flavors but in a way that’s more accessible for beginners.
That means it’s something to experience before “moving up” to more complex and higher-quality “real” absinthes.
Experienced absintheurs likely won’t be a fan of this. But is it really fair to compare a $30 bottle to the likes of other “real” absinthes which often start going for at least double that price?
I have no problem sharing this with friends who want to explore what absinthe is all about.
If they like it, I can start introducing them to my highest-rated absinthes!
If not, it’s no real loss!