Absinthe the magical drink is back with a bang and more and more people want all the absinthe info they could lay their hands on. This traditional liquor, which is both controversial and provocative, is making a stunning comeback and is on the verge of occupying its deserved position as the number one cult spirit. One more reason why there is so much clamor for absinthe info is that absinthe is making a comeback after being banned by most countries for almost a century.
The precise origin of absinthe is difficult to explain: however, it is widely accepted that the French doctor Dr. Pierre Ordinaire first created absinthe in 1792 to treat various stomach ailments. Absinthe was first commercially produced by Major Dubied and his son-in-law Henry Louis Pernod in 1797. Absinthe soon caught the imagination of the public and became a very popular alcoholic beverage. Absinthe was as popular in Europe as beer and cider are today.
Absinthe is made using several alpine herbs like wormwood, anise, fennel, hyssop, coriander, veronica, angelica root nutmeg, lemon balm, sage, mint, thyme and cardamom. Wormwood, anise and fennel are the main ingredients while the other herbs are used as coloring and flavoring agents. Absinthe has high alcohol content; grain based spirits are generally used in its preparation.
Absinthe produces unique and euphoric effects unlike any other spirit and when drunk in moderation gives the drinker a clear headed inebriation. The herb wormwood contains a substance called thujone which is the main active ingredient. Thujone in mild doses acts as a stimulant and is responsible for absinthes unique effects. In large doses thujone can cause hallucinations and renal problems. The thujone content in absinthe is low and thus within safe limits.
Absinthe is a drink that has had a long and colorful association with the world of art and culture. Nineteenth century Europe was witnessing a great revolution in the art scene and the bohemian culture prevalent at that time embraced absinthe and it became the most popular drink. Great painters and writers were avid absintheurs; some famous names included Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemmingway, and Oscar Wilde.
Absinthe is not drunk like other everyday spirits, but an elaborate ritual is followed in its preparation. The use of special absinthe spoons, absinthe glasses, sugar cubes, absinthe fountains and ice cold water add to absinthe’s aura and mystique. In the traditional French ritual a dose or measure of absinthe is poured in a special absinthe glass and an absinthe spoon kept on the rim of the glass. A sugar cube is placed over the spoon and ice cold water is dripped over the sugar cube, as the cube dissolves and falls in the glass below the emerald green absinthe turns milky or opalescent this is called the louche effect. Louche effect is caused as essential oils from different herbs present in absinthe are precipitated. Some more water is added to absinthe and the drink is ready to serve.
Absinthe is almost always served with sugar as it is very bitter due to the presence of absinthin in wormwood. During the last decade of the nineteenth century, and the early years of the twentieth century alcohol abuse had peaked in Europe and absinthe was wrongfully blamed for a condition called absinthism. Absinthism is characterized by violent behavior and insanity. The temperance movement along with the hard lobbying of the winemakers associations finally succeeded in getting absinthe banned in most European countries.
Thankfully in the light of new evidence that conclusively proved the absence of harmful levels of thujone in absinthe most European countries have lifted the ban on absinthe and it is once again available in stores all over Europe. The United States permits the sale of a watered down version of absinthe. However, US citizens can buy absinthe online from non-US producers.
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