A History of Absinthe
In the spirit of St. Patrick’s day, we’ve decided to do a small tribute to the green fairy!
Absinthe originated in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland in the late 18th century. It arose to great popularity as an alcoholic drink in late 19th- and early 20th-century France, particularly among Parisian artists and writers.
Owing in part to its association with bohemian culture, the consumption of absinthe was opposed by social conservatives and prohibitionists. Ernest Hemingway, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Amedeo Modigliani, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Aleister Crowley and Alfred Jarry were all known absinthe drinkers.
A Sazerac, the “original” cocktail, is the official drink of New Orleans. It is a very sweet, flavorful drink, and was originally created as an Absinthe cocktail. Now that Absinthe is legal in the United States again, the people of New Orleans can once again make their favored official drink.
A revival of absinthe began in the 1990s, following the adoption of modern European Union food and beverage laws that removed longstanding barriers to its production and sale. By the early 21st century, nearly 200 brands of absinthe were being produced in a dozen countries, most notably in France, Switzerland, USA, Spain, and the Czech Republic.
Absinthe is traditionally prepared from a distillation of neutral alcohol, various herbs, and water. Traditional absinthes were redistilled from a white grape spirit (or eau de vie), while lesser absinthes were more commonly made from alcohol from grain, beets, or potatoes. The principal botanicals are grande wormwood, green anise, and florence fennel, which are often called “the holy trinity.” Many other herbs may be used as well, such as petite wormwood (Artemisia pontica or Roman wormwood), hyssop, melissa, star anise, angelica, sweet flag, dittany, coriander, veronica, juniper, and nutmeg.
Five Food Finds for Absinthe
- Absinthe was outlawed in most of Europe around 1915.
- It was made legal to sell by its original name again in the 1980’s.
- Absinthe contains a psychoactive chemical called Thujone (in trace amounts).
- Many creative minds have attributed their success in part to Absinthe, earning it the nickname, “The Green Muse.”
- There are actually five main types of Absinthe: Blanche, Verte, Absenta, Hausgemacht, Bohemian. The French “Verte”, meaning “green”, is possibly the most famous.