ALAMEDA – Absinthe can make the heart grow fonder – at least that’s the hope at St. George Spirits Inc., which has released 3,600 bottles of St. George Absinthe Verte for sale. The Alameda distillery is the first in the U.S. to sell absinthe since it was banned in 1912. Its first production run officially went on sale Friday at its tasting room and other Bay Area locations. Of the 1,800 bottles sent to distributors, 2,300 have been claimed, master distiller Lance Winters said with a slight smile. That means 500 bottles already are back-ordered. Absinthe, – which was reputed to have inspired Oscar Wilde, Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway – has been legal in the United States since March, but St. George Spirits Inc. is the first American distillery making a foray into the absinthe arena. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan ClarksonThe Alameda distillery in a former U.S. Navy airplane hangar sold a token bottle Dec. 3 so it would be the first American distillery to make absinthe in almost a century. “We wanted to legally record it in case someone else snuck in there,” said Winters, 42. Served straight, absinthe tastes like an anise explosion that gains heat and momentum as it heads to the gullet. With added water that “makes it more approachable,” Winters said, the green liquid turns milky, and the drink is smoother, the anise softer, all with a hint of sweetness and a finish of mint. The warehouse is empty except for stills and a small bottling operation. Gothic music reverberates to the high ceilings, making it an appropriate score while labeling the 120-proof green liquor. The label, featuring a monkey holding a cowbell and a femur, was a compromise. Seven designs were rejected by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for various reasons, including suggesting hallucinogenic use, Winters said. It was the drink of poets and artists, but not because of any psychoactive effects, Winters said. “It had to do with the distillers creating this drink as an art form,” he said. “That drink served as inspiration.” T.A. Breaux, creator of the Lucid Absinthe Superieure, an absinthe developed and distilled in France, was the first distiller to break into the American market, in March. “There has been a real resurgence of interest since the 1990s,” said Breaux, also an absinthe historian. “It started in Europe, but it did spread in the United States in the subculture. Now it’s popular because it’s the most controversial drink ever made.” According to a report by Richard Olsen from UCLA’s School of Medicine Department in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, absinthe was “widely regarded” as stimulating the imagination, as an aphrodisiac and as producing hallucinations. [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!