Lawrenceville Distilling selling absinthe named for legendary haunted house
The Green Fairy is alive and well in Pittsburgh.
Lawrenceville Distilling recently debuted its own brand of absinthe, after years of research and experimentation and approval by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
Nicknamed “The Green Fairy,” it became notorious for its hallucinogenic effects. The Swiss spirit was banned in the United States from 1912 to 2007.
Dave Harmon, who opened Lawrenceville Distilling with his friend Joe DeGroot, chuckled at the thought of wild-eyed Victorian poets rampaging down cobblestone streets after swilling the olive-colored elixir.
“Any erratic behavior associated with absinthe is because of alcohol poisoning. It’s very civilized, and it has a simple sophistication,” he said, while taking a sip of his 1129 Absinthe Traditionnelle. “And the taste reminds me of my grandma’s Christmas cookies.”
The Lawrenceville beverage is named after 1129 Ridge Ave. in Manchester. Legend has it that a haunted mansion once occupied the property. It’s made in small batches in a 10-gallon still. A 375 ml.-bottle sells for $40.
Wigle Whiskey, based in the Strip District, also distills absinthe, which sells for $40 a bottle.
On Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m., people can stop by Lawrenceville Distilling on Harrison Street to sample and purchase 1129 Absinthe Traditionnelle and the company’s other beverage, Parking Chair Vodka.
An online shop will launch soon, and Harmon and DeGroot plan to expand the facility, an old machine shop, into a tasting room and retail store by early summer. A brand of gin also is on the way.
While they won’t reveal the name of the gin yet, they’ve hinted that it will pay homage to their hometown.
“The city’s civic pride really helps with a new business,” Harmon says. “There’s a lot of love around here, and people have been willing to give us a shot.”
Kristy Locklin is a freelancer.