AKA Abraham Bacoln

Ojen again
January 15, 2010, 5:58 pm
Filed under: tidbit

You may remember – or you may not, it’s been a while – that back in April of 2009 I wrote an entry on a curious liquor, Ojen. If you don’t want to read the whole thing the short version is as follows:

Ojen (pronounced OH-hen) is an anise-flavored liquor produced in Spain. It’s not the same as absinthe though the two have far more in common than, say, Ojen and gin do. Ojen gained popularity in New Orleans at the beginning of last century and over time became an old standby, especially during Carnival season. In fact, some went so far as to claim that New Orleans’ consumption of Ojen surpassed that of all of Spain – and considering how folks down here tend to enjoy a drink every now and then I believe it. Martin Wine Cellar was the last company importing Ojen into the US and they received their final shipment in the mid-1980s. Since then they had been slowly selling through it with no replacement coming because the distillery had stopped production [click here for a much more detailed history].

Anyway, that blog entry was last year. I bought myself a bottle of Ojen because I realized that soon enough we would be totally out, and soon enough we were. In fact it was sold out not more than two weeks after, which was a momentous enough event to warrant a short piece in the Times-Picayune (yes, that’s me being quoted in that article).

So where does that leave us now? Well, it leaves us at a very unhappy Mardi Gras, that’s for sure. One of the most (if not THE most) illustrious carnival krewes, Rex, used Ojen as their signature drink. This will be the first year in decades that their members haven’t been able to stop by the store and pick some up. I have it on good authority that there may be twenty or thirty bottles still remaining somewhere, if you know who to ask and have the right connections. I’m not sure that even I could get some if I wanted to.

I did have the good fortune to come into possession of a few bottles before it disappeared from retail shelves for good, though, and now have just over three left. A few days ago I had a friend in town who had read my bit about Ojen and heard me talking about it, and was interested in learning more. I said, “Let’s have a drink then!” He said something along the lines of, “No, no, it’s too special, I don’t want to use up your bottle.”

It took a while to convince him that that’s the whole point of owning a few bottles – so that I can drink them and share them. I didn’t buy them to hoard them in hopes of making a profit by selling them to some desperate member of Rex, I bought them to drink them. Slowly, maybe, una copita de Ojen every couple of months, but drink them I will. I have them so that I can share them with people that haven’t ever had it before, or in a few years maybe I’ll be sharing with someone that just hasn’t been able to taste it in a while.

Regardless of the circumstances I’m happy to have it, because sharing it makes me glad, makes other people glad. Together we can drink up the last bits of this small but not insignificant chapter of New Orleans history.

1 Comment so far
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For what it’s worth, it was wonderful. I’m glad I had the opportunity to have some before it’s gone for good.

Comment by Sean J

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