Absinthe: The Legendary Liquor
Absinthe is a unique liquor that became incredibly popular during France's Belle Époque era. Widely known for its psychoactive properties, many artists of the 19th and 20th centuries sought after the "Green Fairy" for its mind-altering effects. Picasso, Poe, Van Gogh, Wilde, and Hemingway are rumored to have been among those who chose absinthe as a muse.
According to popular folklore, a French doctor, Pierre Ordinaire, first developed absinthe in the late 18th century while he lived in Switzerland.
Originally, absinthe was distilled with wormwood and anise. By combining additional strong herbal flavors such as Florence fennel, star anise, coriander, nutmeg and juniper, as well as others, absinthe became one of the most uniquely flavored liquors in history.
Over time, distillers have created special blends and brands of absinthe, but the most famous brand is still the original, Pernod Fils.
The Mystical Legend
A great deal of confusion surrounds the mystical and mythical properties of absinthe, largely as a result of mass media and film exposure. However, it is a known fact that wormwood extract contains a chemical called thujone, but the small amount present in absinthe does not cause the rumored hallucinations or seizures.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when Prohibition and temperance movements were raging, a number of countries banned the sale and distribution of absinthe. Absinthe was still legal in Spain at this time, so Pernod Fils relocated his French distillery, but by the late 1950s, absinthe production came to a close there as well. Shortly thereafter, Pernod began producing pastis, a wormwood-free liquor similar to absinthe and the newly formed Pernod-Ricard company returned to France.
Absinthe's Prohibition Repealed
In March 2007, absinthe returned to the American marketplace with Lucid Absinthe Superieure - a wormwood-enhanced liquor developed by New Orleans microbiologist Ted Breaux. He called Lucid "the first genuine absinthe to be approved for distribution in the United States since 1912."