The Absinthe Forger: A True Story of Deception, Betrayal, and the World’s Most Dangerous Spirit (Hardcover)

Pre-Order Now Badge
The Absinthe Forger: A True Story of Deception, Betrayal, and the World’s Most Dangerous Spirit By Evan Rail Cover Image
Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now


Step into the exclusive world of “the Green Fairy” in this astonishing true crime story about an eccentric con man who blew up the black market with counterfeit absinthe...

Absinthe, an elixir made of alcohol and herbs, is a booming business. From France to Japan, new absinthe distilleries are opening every year. Yet it is still an underground culture, associated with mystery, romance, and bohemian lifestyles, in keeping with its popularity among the writers, artists, and other ne’er-do-wells of nineteenth-century France. First produced in eighteenth century, the spirit, known as “the Green Fairy,” was banned worldwide by 1914 before the bans were gradually overturned beginning in 2005, the year Switzerland re-legalized absinthe.

Enter a bon vivant who inveigles his way into the private Facebook groups where the modern absinthe demimonde converges and charms some of the best minds (and palates) in the beverage world into thinking that he was selling them precious vintage pre-ban bottles.  How did he get away with it? 

The Absinthe Forger pieces together the forger's subterfuge and motivation. It shows how absinthe can transform a person — and even connect drinkers with a deeper, often hidden sense of self. It relates the romantic and illicit history of absinthe, from its birth in Switzerland through its coming of age in France, and on to the spirit’s modern revival starting in the 2000s.

Rail digs deep into the modern absinthe underground, whose members are still frantic to find the last remaining bottles of pre-ban absinthe, and he visits modern producers of the spirit, who have, in a generation, changed in status from daring-criminal bootleggers to sought-after celebrities. Ripe for a Netflix documentary, The Absinthe Forger is a compellingly bizarre crime drama that will make you never look at wormwood in the same way again.

This fascinating book includes black & white photos with fin de siècle advertisements for absinthe, paintings by Degas and Manet, antique absinthe bottles and their ornate labels, along with botanical illustrations.

About the Author

Evan Rail writes about food, drink, and travel for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Condé Nast Traveler, Saveur, BeerAdvocate, Smithsonian Travel, National Geographic Travel, Fodor’s, *Wallpaper, and the Lonely Planet’s Global Beer Tour. His monthly “Free Pour” column at the popular site VinePair has been nominated for the International Association of Culinary Professionals Awards.

Evan has appeared on several television programs, most notably showing Anthony Bourdain around the world of Czech food and drink on the television show No Reservations and drinking Czech beer during an interview with Phil Black on CNN. He has explained what it is like to bathe in beer on the Discovery Channel’s How Stuff Works and been quoted on where to drink in Prague in USA Today. Radio interviews with Evan have appeared on the BBC World Service, Deutsche Welle, Radio Prague, and Hungarian National Radio. He regularly records podcasts for Good Beer Hunting, where he works as international editor.

Evan’s poems and essays have appeared in The New Republic, The Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Review, Agni, Metre, and Zyzzyva.

Praise For…

“Evan Rail is one of the world’s most celebrated absinthe raconteurs. The study of pre-ban absinthe is his métier, and in the case of his forthcoming book, The Absinthe Forger, Evan reveals this swindle as only the best gumshoes can: by knowing their quarry from the inside out.” - Warren Bobrow, absintheur/cannabis alchemist

“I’ve been reading Evan Rail’s dispatches from Central Europe for years. He possesses a wide-ranging intellect, deep knowledge of the region and a storyteller’s gift for unrolling a complicated tale in a way that keeps the reader hanging on every word. He also knows more than a few things about spirits — I look to him to keep me in the know about Europe’s fast-changing distilling culture. To me, the idea of an Evan Rail book on absinthe — and an absinthe forger, at that — is a slam dunk. It’s a great story, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity for Evan to relate a rich and compelling history about a still- mysterious spirit.” - Clay Risen, NYT staff writer and author of Bourbon: The Story of Kentucky Whiskey

“Evan Rail is a most exotic rarity in the overpopulated world of food, drink, and travel writers: an unimpeachable authority on his subject who is also a consummate raconteur. A natural-born obsessive (I’ve never known a more contagiously joyous one), Rail has a nose for story equaled only by his nose for strong spirits — and with this tale, hoo boy, he’s found both in spades. I’d read pretty much anything under his byline, but this is clearly the book he was born to write. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.” - David McAninch, author of Duck Season: Eating, Drinking, and Other Misadventures in Gascony, France’s Last Best Place

Product Details
ISBN: 9781685891541
ISBN-10: 1685891543
Publisher: Melville House
Publication Date: October 15th, 2024
Pages: 368
Language: English