Facts, Recipes and information about this infamous alcoholic drink
List of Recipes which contain Absinthe
Click any of the following links on the list for recipes which contain this famous liquor:
Facts and Information about Absinthe
The alcoholic drink Absinthe is referred to as a liqueur however, as it does not contain added sugar it is therefore classed as a liquor or spirit. Absinthe is a strongly alcoholic liquor made from alcohol and distilled herbs. Anise is a dominant ingredient used in the notorious absinthe drink but absinth has gained its reputation from the inclusion of the extract of wormwood, or artemesia absinthium, in its recipe. Thujone is a component of natural oil of wormwood and was originally believed to be similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the active ingredient in marijuana, but this theory has since been disproved. The correct spelling for this famous liqueur drink is Absinthe but there are several misspellings including Absenthe, Absinth, Absenth and Absent.
Absinthe Definition - Absinthe is a distilled, highly alcoholic, anise-flavored spirit derived from herbs including the flowers and leaves of the medicinal plant Artemisia absinthium which is also called wormwood.
Absinth differs from almost all other alcoholic drinks in containing a higher percentage of alcohol.
Is Absinthe Alcohol Legal? Absinthe Laws
Is Absinthe Alcohol Legal? Laws very from country to country. Absinthe was banned in Belgium in 1905, in Switzerland in 1910, in the USA in 1912 and in France in 1915. The EU have recently relaxed their laws on Absinth and have now allowed the sale of Absinthe containing thujone. The old Parisian Absinthe liquor had a thujone ratio of 260 parts per million. Most absinthe today ranges from approx 2 to 30 parts of thujone per million. The thujone content of all commercial Absinthes is low enough to cause no harm to humans when taken in moderate amounts:
- Absinthe has never been banned in the UK, nor in much of Southern and Eastern Europe
- Absinthe is completely legal in Canada and on sale in some liquor stores
- In the EU, alcoholic beverages above 50 proof are now limited to 10 mg/kg thujone
- In the United States, the sale of beverages containing thujone is still prohibited - but consumption and the possession of thujone-containing beverages is not punishable by law
- Absinth containing Thujone was made available available at bars and stores in Germany and Austria in 2002
- Absinth containing Thujone was made available available at bars and stores in the Netherlands in 2004
- Absinth containing Thujone was made available available at bars and stores in the Switzerland in 2005
The main herbal ingredients of absinthe are wormwood (artemesia absinthium) and anise, but also includes other ingredients such as angelica, nutmeg, melissa, fennel, hyssop and lemonbalm. Real absinthe has a herbal/floral character without any predominant aniseed flavor. It is a dry and bitter tasting alcoholic drink.
Absinthe Fairy - Absinthe Green Fairy - La Fee absinthe ( "La Fée Verte" )
Why was absinth called the Absinthe Green Fairy - La Fee absinthe - "La Fée Verte"? The name is derived from the green color of the drink. Chlorophyll was added to the recipe to give absinth its green hue. Absinthe was extremely popular in the early 1900's and it was an acceptable drink for ladies who probably gave the drink this somewhat romantic name. La fée verte (the green fairy) was taken every day. Most days started with a drink of absinth and ended with l'heure verte (the green hour) as one or two or more drinks of the Absinthe Green Fairy - La Fee absinthe ( "La Fée Verte" ) were taken.
The bitter taste of absinth is due to the inclusion of the wormwood which is one of the bitterest organic substances known. What exactly is wormwood?
- Wormwood is a herb which related to the daisy family
- Artemisia absinthium (aka Absinth Wormwood, Wormwood or Grand Wormwood) is a species of wormwood, native to temperate regions of Europe, Asia and northern Africa
- Wormwood grows wild and can be found growing at the edge of footpaths and fields
- The chemical name for the active ingredient in wormwood is thujone
- Thujone is a component of natural oil of wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
- Thujone is a colourless liquid with a distinctive menthol odour
- The Thujone in wormwood was originally believed to be similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the active ingredient in marijuana, but this theory has since been disproved
- The word "wormwood" comes from Middle English where the plant was traditionally used as a cure for intestinal worms!
Absinthe Wormwood - Thujone
Thujone is a component of natural oil of wormwood. The old Parisian Absinthe liquor had a thujone ratio of 260 parts per million. Most absinthe today ranges from approx 2 to 30 parts of thujone per million. Read the following fascinating facts about absinth, wormwood and thujone:
- Thujone was originally believed to be similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the active ingredient in marijuana, but this theory has since been disproved
- This belief, now discredited, led to the misconception that absinthe had a similar effect on the brain as marijuana
- Thujone is, however, still believed by some to be a neurotoxin that cause upsets to the normal firing and signalling of brain neurons and that thujone produces the euphoric feelings and effects following the consumption of absinthe
- Thujone is also found in the bark of the white cedar, tree, and in other herbs besides wormwood including tansy, junipers, mugwort and sage
- Other popular liqueurs, apart from Absinthe, also include Thujone. These liquors include Vermouth, Chartreuse and Benedictine
- Thujone has long been known for its healing and restorative qualities
- Vermouth was originally made using the flower heads from the wormwood plant. Vermouth takes its name from the German word 'wermut' meaning wormwood
Absinthe, called the 'Green Fairy' by the French is known for its euphoric effects and believed to enhance creativity and artistic expression. Thujone is a component of natural oil and found in large amounts in wormwood. Thujone is believed by some to be a neurotoxin that cause upsets to the normal firing and signalling of brain neurons and that thujone produces the euphoric feelings and effects. Thujone was believed to be the cause of absinthism, an alleged syndrome which caused epileptic fits, mental deterioration and hallucinations in chronic absinthe drinkers, but this theory about absinthe effects has also been disproved. It is interesting to note that absinthe is believed to have both aphrodisiac and narcotic properties.
Absinthe Effects - Absinthism?
One of the effects of drinking absinthe was the belief that this led to a condition called Absinthism. Definition of Absinthism: It is a disorder associated with the habitual abuse of absinthe. The symptoms of Absinthism included hallucinations, sleeplessness, tremors, and convulsions. There has been debate over whether absinthism was due to absinth or of the alcohol contained in absinthe. Wormwood oil is the essence of absinthe and alcohol is the base of absinthe.
The myths about Absinthe Effects
Absinthe, also known as the 'Green Fairy' is surrounded by myths created by perceived links with drugs such as marijuana and LSD . This had led to the belief and myth that absinthe produces different effects at different stages - first drink similar to alcohol effects, second time of drinking hallucinations and the third or fourth time is supposed to be when you start to see "green fairies". The correct spelling for this famous liqueur drink is Absinthe but there are several misspellings including Absenthe, Absinth, Absenth and Absent.
Absinthe Minded is a famous Martini recipe. The ingredients required to make an Absinthe Minded cocktail is as follows:
3 oz Dry Gin
1/2 oz Absinthe
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1 orange peel
The history of Absinth is fascinating - read the following history facts and info about the absinth drink:
- The history of Absinthe began when it was first produced near Couvet in Switzerland
- Dr. Pierre Ordinaire invented absinthe in 1792 and it was produced as a medicine. It was recommended for the treatment of epilepsy, gout, kidney stones, colic, headaches and worms
- A man called Major Dubied then marketed Absinthe as an aperitif
- The Pernod Fils absinthe company was established in Pontarlier in 1805 and was run by Henri-Louis Pernod who was the son-in-law of Major Dubied
- Absinthe influenced the artistic movements of the nineteenth century. The famous artists Degas, Manet, and Picasso all painted what are now considered masterpieces depicting absinthe drinkers
- In the 1880's concern was first expressed about the results of chronic abuse of absinthe
- 1910: History records that the amount of absinthe consumed in France rose in 1910 to 36,000,000 litres of absinthe per year
- Unscrupulous low cost Absinth producers substituted poisonous chemicals such as copper sulphate and Antimony chloride to increase their profits
- French wine makers, concerned about their own profits, heavily croticised Absinthe and brought pressure to bear to have the drink banned
- People started to believe that Absinthe led to a condition called Absinthism which caused hallucinations, sleeplessness, tremors, and convulsions
- All forms of Alcoholism were seen as Absinthism - Moral decline and any drunks were seen as Absinthe drinkers
- 1905: The Absinthe Murders. A Swiss man called Jean Lanfray drunk two glasses of absinthe, shot his pregnant wife and two daughters, before attempting to kill himself. Although he had consumed quantities of other alcohol absinthe was blamed for his terrible crimes
- A petition demanding that absinthe be banned in Switzerland was signed by over 82 000 local people
- Prohibition - pressure increased from various temperance movements and their constituents to curb alcohol consumption and ban Absinth
- Absinthe was banned by most countries. Absinthe was banned in Belgium in 1905, in Switzerland in 1910, in the USA in 1912 and in France in 1915
- Pernod and Ricard reformulated their drinks to exclude the wormwood ingredient
- 1990's: The EU relax their laws on Absinthe allowing the sale of Absinthe containing controlled quantities of thujone
- The correct spelling for this famous liqueur drink is Absinthe but there are several misspellings including Absenthe, Absinth, Absenth and Absent.
The Absinthe Drinker
The early euphoric effects of Absinthe were enjoyed by intellectuals and artists who believed that it enhanced their creativity and artistic expression. In 1859 Edouard Manet (1832-1883) produced the first great absinth painting which was entitled 'The Absinthe Drinker'. This portrait of a well-heeled drunkard, who was a good friend of Manet, caused a scandal as the 'Absinthe Drinker'.
Edgar Degas (1834-1917) was another French artist who created 'A Sketch Of A French Café' on 1876 which was later referred to as Degas "L'Absinthe". This famous painting depicts a man and a woman sitting in a café drinking the Absinthe Green Fairy - La Fee absinthe ( "La Fée Verte" ). Both the faces of the man and the woman display a vacant expression and their eyes are clearly glazed over. Another scandal erupted over this depiction of people drinking absinthe.
Moulin Rouge Absinthe
The Absinthe Green Fairy - La Fee absinthe ( "La Fée Verte" ) was a favorite drink of the people of Paris in the early 1900's and had an association with the Moulin Rouge nightclub. The famous artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) adopted the bohemian life style of Montmartre and spent much of his time drinking absinthe at such venues as the Moulin Rouge. Toulouse-Lautrec is famous for his painting of posters advertising events at the Moulin Rouge including those of the dancers Louise Weber (La Goulue) and Jane Avril. Vincent Van Gogh was a good friend of Toulouse-Lautrec and painted the 1887 Portrait of Van Gogh who is depicted drinking Absinthe Green Fairy - La Fee absinthe ( "La Fée Verte" ). The release of the film "Moulin Rouge" has increased curiosity about Absinthe.
Pastis and Absinthe
Pastis is a French aniseed / licorice-flavored liqueur which was developed in France when the wormwood component was banned in Absinthe. Wormwood was banned in France in 1915. The major French absinthe producers who were Pernod and Ricard who reformulated their drinks to exclude the wormwood ingredient and created pastis. Other alcoholic drinks categorised as Pastis are anisette, ouzo, raki, arak and of course the brand known as Pernod. Many of these particular drinks contain no sugar and are thus flavored liquors rather than liqueurs.
Interesting Facts and info about Absinthe
There are some very interesting and unusual facts about absinthe:
- The word absinthe is derived from the Greek absinthion, meaning "undrinkable."
- The Russian word for absinthe is chernobyl...
- Thomas Tusser wrote in his 1577 book 'July's Husbandry' "Where chamber is sweeped, and wormwood is strown, no flea for his life dare abide to be known."
- Vincent van Gogh was believed to be addicted to absinthe and some say that he cut off his ear whilst under the influence of Absinthe
- The very first cubist paintings by Picasso were directly inspired by the drink
- Absinthe Quote by Gauguin in a letter to Van Gogh in 1897:
"I sit at my door, smoking a cigarette and sipping my absinthe
and I enjoy every day without a care in the world."