Absinthe is somewhat of a mystery to most people. Most have heard that it is illegal because it causes drug like effects. In essence, you start tripping, hard. Movies and other media have done nothing to dispel this notion as well. I can think of a few movies that the effects of absinthe has been greatly exaggerated. The movie Eurotrip in 2004, Moulin Rouge! From 2002, and recently Girls Trip in 2017. All show the trippy qualities of Absinthe, but is that really how it works?
IS ABSINTHE ILLEGAL IN AMERICA?
While Absinthe was deemed illegal in most Western Countries in the early 1900’s the ban has since been lifted. There were loopholes in the laws regarding production standards of absinthe and because of these loopholes the product constantly found its way to the public again and again.
One of the major loopholes that affected the ban on Absinthe was the lack of any legal definition of the product. This meant that bottlers were able to label the product however they wanted. This often led to various different recipes being passed off as absinthe. One thing that is for certain is the restriction on how much thujone is present in the product. Thujone is psychedelic compound found in traditional absinthe
Thujone is viewed similarly to drugs such as Caffeine or chocolate in the United States. It does have a psychoactive chemical effect but is considered to be very minor. That is why it is regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as opposed to the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency).
The laws across the world vary greatly from country to country. Canada for example, has no law that outlaws or bans absinthe. It is legal in Switzerland but cannot be colored. It is completely illegal in France. The United Kingdom has no restrictions on absinthe. So as you can see, the laws are not uniform in any way across the world.
Where Did Absinthe Originate?
Per Wikipedia: “The precise origin of absinthe is unclear. The medical use of wormwood dates back to ancient Egypt and is mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus, c. 1550 BC. Wormwood extracts and wine-soaked wormwood leaves were used as remedies by the ancient Greeks. Moreover, there is evidence of a wormwood-flavoured wine in ancient Greece called absinthites oinos.
The first evidence of absinthe, in the sense of a distilled spirit containing green anise and fennel, dates to the 18th century. According to popular legend, it began as an all-purpose patent remedy created by Dr. Pierre Ordinaire, a French doctor living in Couvet, Switzerland around 1792 (the exact date varies by account). Ordinaire’s recipe was passed on to the Henriod sisters of Couvet, who sold it as a medicinal elixir. By other accounts, the Henriod sisters may have been making the elixir before Ordinaire’s arrival. In either case, a certain Major Dubied acquired the formula from the sisters in 1797 and opened the first absinthe distillery named Dubied Père et Fils in Couvet with his son Marcellin and son-in-law Henry-Louis Pernod. In 1805, they built a second distillery in Pontarlier, France under the company name Maison Pernod Fils. Pernod Fils remained one of the most popular brands of absinthe until the drink was banned in France in 1914.”
Absinthe has remained a debated topic over the years with some countries swearing it off with bans or making it illegal while other countries have made no such regulations. In Europe it had become so popular that in the 1860’s the 5pm time slot that we generally reserve for “happy hour” was called “The Green Hour”.
New Orleans has a huge cultural association with absinthe. One of the earliest absinthe cocktails, Sazerac, was concocted there. In 1874 there was a bar named the Absinthe Room. It’s popularity brought in many famous names such as Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Aleister Crowley, and Frank Sinatra.
Giving The Gift Of Absinthe
Can you think of a more unique gift than absinthe? It may strike you as kind of odd but it might just be the gift that sets you apart from the crowd. You may have to dispel some of the myths surrounding this maligned spirit, as we know TV and Movies haven’t done it justice. Once you move past this it can be a really cool experience that you can share with a close friend or loved one. There’s a lot Absinthe has to offer.
First, absinthe doesn’t taste like black licorice. I know that the word about this drink but as with so many other rumors about it, this isn’t true. Absinthe has many recipes and therefore has many flavors. They can range from herbal with a hint of bitter to sweet and floral. The choice is yours.
Another thing to avoid when picking out a good absinthe is color. Everyone, and I mean just about everyone, thinks its green. They wouldn’t be wrong. In the past when it was made with its traditional formula this may have been true. You know the one where you go on a psychedelic trip? Since the crack down on those ingredients a good absinthe is now clear or milky white. The green dye is just added and not necessary.
You’ll want to make it an experience so you’ll want to have the right drinkware. Try these traditional absinthe tasting glasses from Amazon. Another common practice is to pour the absinthe over a sugar cube to add some sweetness. This is the perfect absinthe drip spoon, also available on Amazon. You can also add some flare to your absinthe with some spirits essence like this from Amazon.
Recipes for Absinthe
- Shake ingredients well with ice. Strain into a pre-chilled lowball glass. Sprinkle nutmeg on top.