Absinthe is the legendary liquor that ruled the hearts and minds of most Europeans in the nineteenth century. Absinthe has wormwood and anise flavor. Absinthe was very popular because of its taste and the unique effects that were not similar to other spirits. The drink has made a stunning comeback all over the world since the beginning of the 21st century. More and more people are interested in knowing the perfect absinthe recipe. But before we discuss the absinthe recipe, let’s get acquainted with its rich history.
A French doctor Dr. Pierre Ordinaire is credited with the creation of absinthe. The doctor prescribed it as a digestive tonic and used it to treat digestive disorders. Henri-Louis Pernod is credited with the first commercial production of absinthe in 1797 in Couvet, Switzerland. Later on in 1805 Pernod moved to a larger distillery as the demand for absinthe kept growing. Absinthe was the most popular drink in Europe and it rivaled wine, when at its peak. It has also appeared in the paintings of Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh. Many great artistes and writers were regular drinkers of absinthe and absinthe was an important part of the literary and cultural scene of nineteenth century Europe. Due to certain misconceptions and ill founded rumors absinthe was banned in most of Europe and America for most of the twentieth century. However, absinthe has made a successful comeback as most European countries have lifted the ban.
Absinthe recipe is fairy simple. It is prepared by steeping natural herbs in neutral spirit and distilling the product thus formed. Absinthe can be wine based or grain based. After distillation the distilled spirit is infused with more herbs for flavor and then filtered to obtain absinthe liquor. It is a three step recipe.
The first step involves procuring the neutral spirit. Wine can be distilled to increase the alcohol concentration. The simple alternative is to use vodka as it is readily available. The next step involves adding herbs like wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), green anise, fennel seed, angelica root, star anise, etc. These hers are called as macerated herbs. These herbs are mixed with the neutral spirit and kept in a dark cool place for several days. The container containing this mixture is shaken periodically. After a few days the mixture is strained and water is added. The volume of water added should be half of the amount of neutral spirit used.
The third step involves distilling the maceration. The distillation process is similar to the one used for home distilled alcohol. During the distillation the liquid that comes out at the beginning and the very end is discarded.
The last step involves adding herbs such as hyssop, melissa or lemon balm, and mint leaves. The mixture is periodically shaken and kept for some time. Once the color and flavor of the herbs gets into the mixture it is then filtered and bottled.
Absinthe has very high alcohol content and must be drunk in moderation. The herb wormwood contains thujone which is a mildly psychoactive substance and is believed to induce psychedelic effects if consumed in large quantity. Absinthe drinks are prepared using traditional rituals. Absinthe spoon and absinthe glass are used in the preparation of “the green fairy”, as absinthe is lovingly called. Like all drinks absinthe is an intoxicant and must be taken in moderation to enjoy its unique effects.