Few people would argue that absinthe is the most romantic drink in all of history. Although many of us have heard about absinthe, not many people have any real knowledge of the beverage and a much smaller percentage has actually drunk it. That is why this article is designed to uncover the truth about absinthe, while enjoying some of its notorious history and bringing the reader up to date on absinthe today.
Absinthe was first concocted about 200 years ago in the Swiss village of Couvet, although there are two versions of the story regarding who should be credited with the original absinthe recipe. Evidently there were sisters named Henriod who were prescribing their anise-flavored all-purpose tonic years before a French doctor, Pierre Ordinaire, staked his claim as the inventor.
Whether or not the Henriod sisters deserved the credit, it was Ordinaire who sold the absinthe recipe to the Dubied-Pernot family, who then proceeded to set up the world's first absinthe distillation plant.
Decades passed and absinthe grew more popular, becoming known more for the effects of the so-called Green Fairy -- artistic inspiration, dreams and visions -- than for the healing benefits of what was once a medicinal tonic. But it was between 1875 and 1915 when the absinthe rage was truly in full swing. That was when such noted artists as Van Gogh, Picasso, and Degas were creating immortal images of absinthe drinkers, and it was being written about by the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde and Rimbaud.
Not everybody was enamored with absinthe, however. Those opposed to it included the French government, who claimed that, as World War I was starting, the powerful alcoholic drink was harming the national defense effort. Another claim was that the wormwood ingredient in absinthe caused insanity, a myth fueled by the horrible murder in 1905 by Jean Lanfray of his family, an event supposedly induced by drinking the green demon. Also, absinthe was the first liquor advertised at the female market, an effort that succeeded in bringing women, for the first time, into Parisian drinking establishments, a trend of which the establishment did not approve. France banned absinthe in 1915, three years after its prohibition in the USA and several other European nations.
Today, the bans on absinthe are being removed, albeit slowly, in Europe and North America. However, the situation in the United State is that absinthe may be consumed and possessed, but it cannot be legally produced or sold. Fortunately, Americans who want to try absinthe are able to buy it legally through sources on the internet.
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