By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Dec 15, 2010 at 10:05 AM

Award-winning Milwaukee absinthe?!

You betcha! And it should come as no surprise, really. After all, Great Lakes Distillery, 616 W. Virginia St., in Walker's Point has been offering up award-winning distillates for years now.

Though I'm not  really much of a fan of the green goblin of booze, absinthe is back on offer across America and is making inroads. Last year in San Diego I was at a bar that has a very popular weekly absinthe night at which I saw dozens of sugarcubes melted.

Here at home, Great Lakes Distillery (you might know it better as Rehorst) just took gold medals from The Beverage Testing Institute of Chicago (BTI)  for its Amerique 1912 Absinthe Verte and Amerique 1912 Absinthe Rouge.

These absinthes, which use the long-outlawed wormwood -- Absinthe was banned in the U.S. from 1912 until 2007 -- are made with pre-absinthe-ban recipes, says owner Guy Rehorst.

"There's still a lot of misinformation out there" says Rehorst, who calls the favored drink of legendary French artists, "a long forgotten spirit with a strong anise flavor, but it was never a hallucinogen as many people believed then and some still believe now. It makes great cocktails and really deserves another look from the public."

Great Lakes' Amerique 1912 Absinthe Rouge scored a 95 -- the highest score that BTI has ever given an absinthe -- in the annual competition. Absinthe Verte scored a 94 in the blind tastings conducted by industry experts.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.