Doctor, artist, Master Distiller: whatever title you choose to call him by, Kevin Herson of Doc Herson's Natural Spirits is the real deal.
Just take a look at his signature absinthe: like the stuff of myth, it emerged – beautiful, handcrafted and exemplary – from a basement in Harlem, New York in 2012. The original underground production line – adorned with "creepy dolls, rusty scales and a dusty old sump pump" – was inspired by old Prohibition laws and Belle Époque culture; and with its wax-sealed, hand-labeled emerald green bottle, it could have been teleported straight from an 1840's French cabaret or Bourbon Street bar. But the formula and process for making this spectacular spirit started developing many years ago, when Kevin was just a youngster in South Africa, messing around with his (now archaic) chemistry set.
From there, he followed his love of culture around the world, eating and drinking all he could along the way, and managing to earn a doctorate degree as well – earning him the Doc designation. By the end, he'd cultivated a distinct palate for distilling spirits, and set his sights on "la fée verte," the storied green spirit known as absinthe.
To make it, the Doc and his wife Stacey work in small batches using only organic, New York-grown grains and botanicals from around the world, such as Grand Wormwood (the signature absinthe herb), anise, fennel, dried lemons, mint and other (top-secret!) herbs. This basic process (now carried out in one of a small handful of new distilleries in the old Pfizer building on the outskirts of Williamsburg, Brooklyn) yields an unparalleled, all-natural rendition of "the green fairy," which was long rumored to have fantastical psychoactive effects and is most often associated with 19th century bohemians.
A former commodities broker, Kevin doesn't quite fit the bohemian stereotype, but we're okay with that – it just means he's come up with an absinthe for the new age, enjoyable above ground by all walks of life.