After being banned since the early 1900s, Absinthe is now legal in many countries and a few brands of Absinthe were legalized in the United States in 2007. People are excited about Absinthe and want to know more info on Absinthe. They are searching online for info and reading articles and books for answers to their questions – What is it? How do you prepare it? What is it made from? Why was it banned? Is it safe? What is wormwood? Etc. Let’s answer a few of those questions.
Info on Absinthe and its history
Absinthe is a strong distilled alcoholic beverage which is usually made from a wine base and is flavored with natural herbs and essential oils. The three main herbs used in Absinthe production are common wormwood (Artemisia Absinthium), green aniseed and fennel. The fennel and aniseed give Absinthe its anise flavor and the wormwood gives Absinthe its characteristic bitter taste and its name.
Wormwood has been used since ancient times as a natural remedy for many medical conditions and so was a natural choice for Dr Pierre Ordinaire’s elixir or health tonic. Ordinaire invented Absinthe in the late 18th century in the Swiss town of Couvet as a pick-me-up for his patients, unaware of the potential of his recipe. By the early 19th century Henri-Louis Pernod was producing Absinthe and selling it commercially and by the middle of the 19th century it was a popular drink in France, Switzerland and later the United States. Bars even had Absinthe hours (L’heure de verte) and Absinthe soon overtook other beverages such as wine and beer as the most popular drink.
Wine producers, doctors and the prohibition movement began their anti-Absinthe campaign in earnest in the late 1800s. Absinthe was associated with the loose morals of the courtesans of the Moulin Rouge, Montmartre and the Bohemian artists and writers and prohibitionists blamed it for damaging society as an intoxicant.
Absinthe was also blamed for causing many health problems due to its thujone content. Thujone is a chemical found in wormwood which doctors claimed was psychoactive and caused psychedelic effects. Absinthe was thought to contain huge amounts of thujone and to be similar to the drug cannabis. It was blamed for:-
– Brain damage
Absinthe was even held responsible for a man murdering his family even though he had only consumed two glasses of Absinthe and copious amounts of other alcohol!
Absinthe was believed to be dangerous and so was banned in 1912 in the USA and 1915 in France.
Is Absinthe Safe?
Research and studies over the past few decades have shown that pre ban Absinthe only contained very small amounts of thujone, not enough to be harmful or to cause hallucinations. We now know that the claims were just mass hysteria and just excuses for the wine producers and the prohibitionists to get Absinthe banned.
Thujone quantities are now controlled by legislation and Absinthe is just as safe as any of the other types of strong spirits. It is easy to get drunk on Absinthe though because of its high alcohol by volume (up to 75%), so care should be taken especially when mixing it in cocktails with other spirits.
The blend of herbs and the alcohol in Absinthe act as both a sedative and as a stimulant so being drunk on Absinthe is unlike any other state of drunkenness. Some describe it as a strange “lucid” or “clear headed” drunkenness.
Info on Absinthe Preparation
Preparing the Green Fairy (Absinthe) is part of the fun of drinking Absinthe. You will need:-
– Quality Absinthe
– An Absinthe glass
– An Absinthe slotted spoon
– Iced water
– A cube of sugar
Pour a shot of Absinthe into the glass and rest the spoon over the rim. Place the sugar on the spoon and slowly drip the water over the sugar and into the Absinthe. As the sugar and water solution mixes into the Absinthe, the drink will louche – turn from a transparent green to a milky or cloudy paler mixture. This “louche” is the desired effect and is caused by the essential oils of the Absinthe not being water soluble. Stir and enjoy your drink.
You need a quality Absinthe containing natural essential oils for the drink to louche. Absinthe essences from AbsintheKit.com make wonderful Absinthes with a high content of natural essential oils. The company also sells glasses and spoons which are replicas of antiques. You will also find lots of info on Absinthe on their website.