Learn about absinthe, the legendary herbal liquor sometimes called the green fairy and get the recipe for a classic Absinthe Drip Cocktail.

A footed glass filled with absinthe under the spout of an absinthe drip fountain.

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.

The history and legend of absinthe

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.

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.

Footed glass under an absinthe drip fountain with absinthe spoon and sugar cube resting on the rim.

Absinthe and prohibition

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.

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.”

Absinthe: The Legendary Liquor

How To Make An Absinthe Drip Cocktail

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The drip cocktail is a traditional way of serving absinthe as the slow dripping of the water through the sugar adds balance to the flavor.


  • 1 ounce absinthe
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 ounces cold water


  • Add the absinthe in an absinthe glass or small parfait glass.
  • Place the sugar cube in an absinthe spoon, hold it over the glass, and drip the water slowly over the sugar cube to melt it into the absinthe.
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