Lots of people around the world are asking “What is Absinthe alcohol?” because we seem to be experiencing an Absinthe revival at the moment. Absinthe is seen as a trendy and mysterious drink which is associated with Bohemian artists and writers, films such as “From Hell” and “Moulin Rouge” and celebrities like Johnny Depp and Marilyn Manson. Manson has even had his own Absinthe created called “Mansinthe”!
Van Gogh, Gauguin, Degas, Pablo Picasso, Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway talked of Absinthe giving them their inspiration and genius. They even called the Green Fairy their muse. Absinthe features in many artistic works – The Absinthe drinker by Picasso, The Absinthe Drinker by Manet and L’Absinthe by Degas. The writer Charles Baudelaire also wrote about it in his poetry too. Absinthe has definitely inspired great works and has had an amazing effect on history.
What is Absinthe Alcohol?
Absinthe is an anise flavored, high proof alcohol. It is usually served with iced water to dilute it and to cause it to louche. Henri-Louis Pernod distilled it in the early 19th century by using a wine alcohol base flavored with natural herbs and plants. Traditional herbs used in Absinthe production include wormwood, aniseed, fennel, star anise, hyssop and lemon balm, as well as many others. Spanish Absenta, the Spanish name for Absinthe, tends to be a bit sweeter than French or Swiss Absinthe because it uses a different type of anise, Alicante anise.
Legend has it that Absinthe was created in the late 18th century by Dr Pierre Ordinaire as an elixir for his patients in Couvet, Switzerland. The recipe then got into the hands of two sisters who started selling it as a drink in the town and eventually sold it to a Major Dubied whose daughter married into the Pernod family – the rest is, as they say, history!
By 1805, Pernod had opened a distillery in Pontarlier, France and started producing Absinthe under the name “Pernod Fils” and, by the middle of the 19th century, the Pernod company was producing more than 30,000 liters of Absinthe a day! Absinthe even became more popular than wine in France.
Absinthe had its heyday during the Golden Age of La Belle Epoque in France. Unfortunately, it became associated with drugs such as heroin, cocain and cannabis and was accused of having psychedelic effects. Prohibitionists, doctors and wine producers, who were upset with Absinthe’s popularity, all ganged up against Absinthe and were able to persuade the French Government to ban the beverage in 1915.
Fortunately, Absinthe has since been redeemed. Studies and tests have shown that Absinthe is no more harmful than any other strong liquor and that it does not induce hallucinations or damage people’s health. The claims of the early 20th century are now seen as mass hysteria and falsehoods. It was legalized in the EU in 1988 and the USA have allowed various brands of Absinthe to be sold in the US since 2007.
You can read more about its history and interesting facts on absinthebuyersguide.com and the Buyer’s Guide and forum at lafeeverte.net. The forum is useful because there are reviews on different Absinthes. You can purchase Absinthe essences, which make real wormwood Absinthe, along with replica Absinthe glasses and spoons at AbsintheKit.com.
So, what is Absinthe alcohol? It is a mythical, mysterious drink with an incredible history.