Absinthe is a mythical drink, adored, reviled, and ultimately banned, hidden in a halo of mystery available only to connoisseurs.
Many associate absinthe to Pastis and Ricard, but in fact they are different drinks, of which today we’ll tell you its origin and motives of the legend:
Absinthe was discovered in the late eighteenth century, and was believed to have medicinal effects. Absinthe is a distillation of herbs, among which have special importance – wormwood, anise and fennel -, but it is often combined in a recipe with other plants such as coriander, juniper or licorice.
Absinthe is called the green fairy because it is considered a hallucinogenic beverage, capable of inspiring artists. Soon began to be known as the “green muse” or “green fairy”. In fact, its color can be crystalline, like other spirits. It takes a green color when chlorophyll of the plant itself is added to the distillate, and in general is already being sold in any color by adding colorants (including its own green).
As most of these plants are shrubs of Mediterranean climate, the best absinthe distilleries are located in Valencia, Catalonia and the Balearic Islands and also in the area of Marseilles, France.
For years the use of absinthe was only medicinal, and was offered to the French troops as an antipyretic. When troops returned from the front they continued consuming absinthe, which began to be dispensed in bars. And so the black legend began.
The wormwood from which absinthe is distilled to be made is a poisonous shrub. It has a compound called thujone which has a similar effect to THC in marijuana, and consumed in large doses it is said to be hallucinogenic.
In addition, a prolonged consumption of absinthe in time, just like marijuana, causes panic attacks and depression. To this we must add the high alcohol content that absinthe can reach (up to 82 ° after distillation, although it is normally diluted with water. The more traditional absinthe stay-at-40 °), which makes it a drinks highly dangerous, if not consumed in moderation.
In the late nineteenth century the effects of absinthe were already known across Europe and became particularly fashionable in Paris in the environments of Bohemia. It is said that when Van Gogh cut off his ear he did it under the influence of this drink. The great painters of French Impressionism (Monet, Manet, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec) were regular consumers and some of their work it is said to have been inspired under the hallucinogenic effects of absinthe.
During his stay in Paris, Picasso met the absinthe of which was declared a devoted admirer. It was the most consumed and important beverage during the early twentieth century, and were also faithful to her other great artists such as Hemingway, Rimbaud and Baudelaire. Hemingway was a great abshinte drinker, and one absinthe cocktail took his name.
But during those years there was a massive increase in suicides, especially among people of bohemian life, driven by rising existential crisis in the interwar period. Montparnasse bridges were the favorite places for suicide to jump into the void and to put an end to everything.
The authorities, trying to find an explanation, quickly blamed absinthe. It was known that this drink caused-, depression and hallucinations in the long run, so it became the official cause of suicides. It was banned in France. Soon the prohibition was extended to most European countries except Spain and Portugal, where consumption was not as massive.
Since it was not forbidden in Spain, distilleries were created who picked up the traditional recipe, and now they are producing the best quality absinthes on the market. In France, however, traditional brands like Pernod or Ricard quickly managed to develop alternative drinks such as Pastis, distilled from herbs up to 60 degrees but without the inclusion of wormwood.
Over time, the ban has been rover in most of Europe and almost in all of the United States, since it is now known that side effects are more associated with high alcohol content of absinthe, and certain adulterations made at the time to maintain the high demand.
Still, and always with due caution, we recommend you to try absinthe for the taste and know firsthand the beverage that inspired many genius of the arts. . Oscar Wilde said about absinthe: “After the first glass, you see things as you would like them to be. After the second, you see things that do not exist. Finally, one ends up seeing things as they really are, and that’s most horrible thing that can happen. “
If you want to try absinthe, we recommend some of the classics which reflect faithfully the original recipe:
- Absenta Collector Mari Mayans: Mari Mayans is one of the distilleries who’s doing a great job to revamp the image of absinthe. The repackaged triangular bottle and the bright green of absinthe is accompanied, of a great aroma and flavor of herbs and anise highly perfumed. Excellent.
- Absinthe Hapsburg Gold Label 89.90º: The strongest Absinthe in the market. With nearly 90 degrees of alcohol, has a much lighter cyan color and reminiscent aromas as anise, toast honey. Powerful.
- Absinthe La Fee Nv: Another classic brand with a modern twist. In this absinthe you may notice more fruity flavors, green apple and pear. The most refreshing one.
Absinthe has been the subject of debates and controversies almost since its creation. What do you think of absinthe? Have you tried it? You think its fair its fame of inspiring artists?