Vom Fass sells absinthe, liqueurs and flavored oils on the Plaza

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Absinthe, the famous (and allegedly hallucinogenic) liqueur banned in the United States for nearly a century (until 2007), gets the glamour treatment at the two-week-old Vom Fass, at 515 Nichols Road on the Country Club Plaza.

For patrons who want to taste the potent liqueur, the store’s owners — former Sprint executives Brett and Autumn Guthrie — strongly suggest taking a sip in the traditional style, with a splash of distilled water (displayed in a spherical glass decanter with multiple spigots) and a sugar cube. “It’s too potent to sip straight,” says Brett Guthrie, “but if that’s what the customer wants, we’ll do it.”

That is, after all, the way Degas painted “The Absinthe Drinkers” in 1876. It was a subject for Picasso, too, and notably associated with artistic absinthe fans Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Amedeo Modigliani and Vincent van Gogh.

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The Guthries sell three kinds of the anise-flavored French liqueur (including 72-proof Absinthe Libertine 72) as well as grappa, brandies, cognac, Armagnac, and whiskeys. But Vom Fass — which translates from German as “from the cask” — is not a liquor store. It is the first Kansas City location (and the 31st in the United States) of the Wisconsin-based Vom Fass USA.

“I have a retail background,” Brett Guthrie says. “So when I got out of the communications business, I wanted a store where I could interact with people.”

Since opening Vom Fass on December 11, Brett Guthrie has been the one minding the store (with a small sales staff); Autumn still works for a local software company. The store gives tastes of its products (patrons must be over 21 to sample anything with alcohol), with most walk-in patrons drawn to the selection of infused oils and wine vinegars. If the organic black cumin oil sounds ideal for making Indian curries, the Guthries will stress this Egyptian oil’s healing qualities.

“We sell four different wellness oils,” Brett Guthrie says. “Black cumin isn’t just great for healthy cooking — it’s wonderful for your skin.”

The Guthries plan to start offering tasting events and cooking classes later in 2016.

Categories: Food & Drink