Have you ever wondered whether or not absinthe is actually hallucinogenic? Or whether Jameson is really only ordered by Catholic drinkers and Bushmills by Protestants?
No need to wonder any more—or to be afraid of looking foolish by ordering the wrong thing. With the help of spirits experts and all-star bartenders around the world, we’ve been able to get to the bottom of nine common spirits myths and what we’ve found is, to be honest, quite mind-blowing.
Curious? Read on and you’ll be able to drink without fear. Cheers!
Absinthe is hallucinogenic.
Certain absinthe marketers love to capitalize on their product’s illicit reputation, but the fact is that it’s no more likely to make you see things than vodka, whiskey or tequila. Recent scientific studies “have demonstrated beyond doubt that pre-ban absinthes contained no hallucinogens, opiates or other psychoactive substances,” says one of the world’s leading absinthe experts, Ted A. Breaux. “The most powerful ‘drug’ in absinthe is and has always been a high volume of neatly disguised, seductively perfumed alcohol.”
Jameson is Catholic and Bushmills is Protestant.
This is one of the myths we encounter all the time, since Bushmills is located in predominantly Protestant Northern Ireland, and Jameson is produced in the heavily Catholic Republic of Ireland. But “this couldn’t be any further from the truth,” says award-winning bartender Jack McGarry of New York’s The Dead Rabbit. For one, because there are only a few distilleries on the whole island, they trade casks. So your Bushmills may contain some Jameson-made whiskey. That’s not to mention that the current master distiller at Bushmills, Colum Egan, is Catholic, and that John Jameson, founder of his eponymous brand, was likely Protestant—and Scottish, for that matter.
Rum is a Caribbean/West Indian spirit.
“Rum’s commercial birthplace may have been the sugar cane fields of the islands and the tropics, but prior to the American Revolution, dozens of rum distilleries existed in New England,” says rum expert Wayne Curtis, who is the author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails. “Today, rum is again a North American product, with craft distillers making distinctive rums from Hawaii and New Orleans to Boston”