Absinthe has an interesting history. Absinthe was created in the town of Couvet, in Switzerland, in the late 18th century by a French doctor who used it as an elixir or tonic for his patients. By 1805 the Absinthe recipes had got into the hands of Henri-Louis Pernod who started distilling it in his factory in Pontarlier in France.
Original Absinthe Recipes
Pernod’s Absinthe, Original Pernod Fils, was distilled from wine and contained many natural herbs and essential oils from plants including grande wormwood, aniseed, melissa, fennel, lemon balm, dittany, angelica root, hyssop, star anise, nutmeg and juniper.
Different manufacturers of the Green Fairy (Absinthe’s nickname) used different recipes and ingredients. Other herbs used in Asinthe production included calamus root, mint, cloves, nutmeg, roman wormwood, anise seed, coriander, sweet flag and licorice. The herb wormwood, Artimesia Absinthium, was always used in the making of pre-ban Absinthe because it was the ingredient that gave Absinthe its characteristic bitter taste, as well as its name.
Wormwood contains the chemical thujone which was thought to be similar to THC in the drug cannabis. Thujone is psychoactive and can cause psychedelic effects when consumed in large quantities. Anise seed and fennel seed both contain anethole which is said to be psychoactive and Angelica root is grown as a drug in Lapland. Absinthe is a mysterious mix of sedatives and stimulants, no wonder that artists and writers like Van Gogh and Oscar Wilde claimed that it gave them their genius and inspiration! “A clear headed drunkenness” is how being drunk on Absinthe has been described.
Absinthe was famously banned in France in 1915 when Prohibitionists claimed that it was going to ruin the country and send everyone insane. However, studies have shown that drinking Absinthe is just as safe as drinking any of the other strong alcoholic drinks such as whisky and vodka. Absinthe is mainly alcohol and only contains minute quantities of wormwood and the other herbs so, if consumed in moderation, is no real health risk.
Homemade Absinthe Recipes
There are many Absinthe recipes on the internet using different herbs and different methods – steeping, filtering etc. but making Absinthe at home from plants, dried herbs or essential oils is not to be recommended. Why?
– Absinthe should be distilled.
– You have no way of knowing the thujone content of your finished Absinthe – a bit risky.
It is far better to buy either a quality Absinthe, making sure that it’s got the vital ingredient wormwood, or to buy an Absinthe kit which consists of Absinthe essences that have already been distilled.
You can even buy Absinthe in the USA now – Breaux’s label “Lucid” is legal in the USA.
AbsintheKit.com does great Absinthe kits which consist of:-
– Absinthe essence – choose from classic, white (which makes clear Swiss style Absinthe, Strong 55 (with a 55mg thujone content) and Orange (flavored with orange oil).
– A measure.
– Artistic Labels to decorate your Absinthe bottles.
One bottle of essence will make 14 bottles of Absinthe!
To make Absinthe using these kits you simply mix 20ml of the Absinthe essence with a neutral alcohol such as Everclear or vodka and that’s it – finished, your won bottle of Green Fairy.
Simple and easy to use and, because these essences are the very same as the ones sold to distilleries, you know that you are getting a safe, top-quality product.
If you search online you will find lots of cocktail Absinthe recipes such as Ernest Hemingway’s famous “Death in the Afternoon” – Absinthe and champagne. Enjoy finding and mixing your cocktails.