Absinthe, The Most Legendary Beverage

Throughout the history of alcoholic beverages, there can be none more legendary than absinthe. Most people probably have a basic awareness that absinthe exists, but the majority of them know few true facts about the liquor, and a mere fraction of them have enjoyed a glass of this mysterious drink. Therefore, this article will present to the reader the facts about this legendary liquor, as well as looking back at its illustrious past.

It was in Couvet, Switzerland in the 1790s that a so-called all-purpose tonic known as absinthe was first made. Highly intoxicating, and flavored with anise, absinthe was said to have been the invention of Pierre Ordinaire, a doctor from France. But village locals remembered that, years before Dr. Ordinaire arrived on the scene, the Henriod sisters were known to have been dispensing a medicinal tonic that bore a great similarity to absinthe.

Still, it was Ordinaire, not the Henriod sisters, who sold the formula for the absinthe tonic to the Dubied-Pernod family, who then established the first commercial operation in Couvet, an absinthe distillery.

In the decades that followed, absinthe began to shed its image as a medicinal tonic and became more known for its psychological effects -- stimulating visions, dreams and providing inspiration to artists. Thus the legend of the Green Fairy came into existence. Indeed, she inspired such great artists and writers as Degas, Van Gogh, Picasso, Hemingway, Oscar Wilde and Mary Shelley to create paintings and books that have become classics in the worlds of art and literature.

As the nineteenth century drew to a close, a lobby was growing against alcohol in general, and against absinthe in particular. So-called scientific experiments were done to supposedly prove that wormwood oil, one of the many ingredients in absinthe, was dangerous and poisonous, even though only a tiny amount of wormwood is contained in an absinthe bottle. Another event that happened in 1905 helped seal the fate of the green fairy. A Swiss man, Jean Lanfray, went on a rampage and murdered his entire family. Even though the man had a long history of being a problem drinker of many various alcoholic beverages, his insanity was blamed on absinthe.

In 1912 many European countries and the United States made absinthe illegal. France followed suit in 1915. Perhaps because it was like forbidden fruit, many of the false rumors and stories about the dangers of absinthe carry on today, despite the fact that modern science has proven that wormwood is no more harmful nor the cause of insanity than any other natural ingredient such as peppermint oil or vanilla extract.

Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, the bans are slowly being taken off. In most European countries, absinthe is completely legal once again. In the USA, there are still laws against producing it and selling it, although possessing it and drinking it are no longer crimes. For an American, that means it's ok to drink absinthe, as long as you buy it from a legal, non-American source, such as may be found on the internet.

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About The Author, Robert Scheer
Robert Scheer writes about legal mind altering substances.