Local absinthe distiller Atelier Vie will source its wormwood locally, a move so bold that not even the state's top farming resource has advice on how to grow it. "It's not something we've had any demand for," says Allen Owings, Ph.D., professor of horticulture at the LSU AgCenter.
"Wormwood's a weird niche herb," says Hammond grower Anthony Cipolone, who co-owns High Tail Farms with fiancée Kaela Trosclair. "It's not a cash crop; no one's growing it around here."
That's about to change.
Atelier Vie president Jedd Haas has tapped High Tail Farms, as well as Metairie's Vintage Garden Kitchen, to grow its first supply of the silvery green plants, which will go into a premium green absinthe to be released (hopefully) next year.
"We thought it would be awesome to grow the wormwood and [other] herbs locally, to make a 100% Louisiana absinthe," says Jedd. Atelier Vie plans to roll out a red absinthe this fall, as well as the green and, eventually, a white absinthe.
Besides the signature wormwood, each absinthe formula will rely on different combinations of about 10 herbs, Jedd says.
Back in the garden, wormwood needs direct sunlight and testy soil. "If our [clay pasture] handles wormwood well, it will lend something really special to the final product," says Anthony.
So it's legal to grow? "As long as you're not adding anything to it, it's just another dried herb," says Anthony.