Absinthe Green Fairy

If there ever was a item steeped in controversy, it was the famous emerald drink Absinthe. During the great collective binge era in France (1880-1914), the drink became a symbol of inspiration and courage as pertaining to the artistic lifestyle. Such famous artists as Van Gogh, Manet and Picasso featured absinthe green fairy in their paintings and great poets such as Rimbaud, Verlaine and Baudelaire made it the subject of literary works.

The shady history of absinthe began in Switzerland during the late 1700's. a French Dr. Pierre Ordinaire invented a licorice flavored tonic to administer to his patients. Dr. Ordinaire sold the recipe to the Pernod family who went on to make the first absinthe distillery. The drink was such a success that the Pernod family went on to open the most famous Maison Pernod Fils distillery in France.

The next few decades absinthe became increasingly popular and not just for it's medicinal benefits. The Green Fairy slowly evolved from being the beneficial emerald tonic to the seductive green goddess of artistic inspiration, visions and dreams. When the 1860's arrived absinthe had elevated to such a popularity that the hours between 5:00 and 7:00 became known as "l'heure verte" or the green hour. People would gather at their local hangouts to get a buzz before dinner. Many think this is the origins of our modern happy hour.

Absinthe's Controversy

At the very height of absinthe's popularity, it was pegged as a dangerously addictive, psychoactive drug due to it's thujone content. Thujone is a chemical similar in composition to THC, the active ingredient in Marijuana. Thujone is found in the herbs mugwort, sage and wormwood, grand wormwood being one of the key ingredients in absinthe. By 1915 it was banned in many European countries and the United States, even though there was no evidence that is was no more dangerous than normal alcohol.

An Absinthe Resurgence

Due to the popularity of movies such as Moulin Rouge, Interview with a Vampire, and Van Helsing that have feature the emerald drink absinthe, It is making a comeback. Stars such as Johnny Depp, Tommy Lee, Marilyn Manson are adding to it's popularity by openly discussing a love for the Green Goddess. Also it is a very popular item in the gothic community due to it's Renaissance allure.

What does absinthe taste like?

Absinthe is made by distilling alcohol steeped in various herbs, namely grand wormwood, green anise, fennel seeds, veronica, hyssop and a few others. The drink has a taste similar to black licorice due to the anise and fennel and slightly bitter due to the absinthin content. It is green in color because of the chlorophyl content in the herbs.

The ritual of absinthe

When mentioning the Absinthe Ritual it referred to the preparation of the absinthe drink. It was a slow deliberate procedure and was part of the fascination of drinking absinthe. The preparation process involved pouring a dose of absinthe, about 1 oz in a absinthe glass, and placing a special slotted absinthe spoon over the top of the glass with a sugar cube resting on the spoon. Next ice cold water was slowly poured drop by drop over the sugar cube until it had dissolved, dripping down into the absinthe liquor. The water and oils from the herbs in the absinthe did not mix thus creating a cloudy color called a louche.

Legal status

Absinthe is now legal in almost every country except the United States. But the ancient law is strange to say the least. It is illegal to manufacture or sell Absinthe in the U.S. Although it is not illegal to possess or consume Absinthe in the U.S.

Absinthe has a magnificent legacy and past, I find it to be a very fascinating subject the way it is weaved into our artistic culture. On absinthe, Marie Corelli once said: "Let me be mad, mad with the madness of absinthe, the wildest, most luxurious madness in the world". After having been banned from most European countries for almost a century, the emerald green, mysterious drink has returned to the market, resuming all the myths and legends of former years. After the green fairy had inspired the artistic and literary set of the belle époque and at the same time supposedly poisoned numerous people, the impact that absinthe will exert on modern society remains unclear.

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About The Author, Charles Hamel
A full explanation of absinthe throughout history can be found at Absinthe Green Fairy. Charles Hamel is a husband and father of 2. He resides near Houston, Texas and hobbies include online gaming and writing.