Absinthe is a herbal spirit, typically of green colour, and it contains the active agents of a herb called wormwood or vermouth (artemisia absinthium).
In a newspaper ad of 1769 the two Henriod sisters from Neuchatel, Switzerland, advertised their remedy "Bon Extrait d'Absinthe" which consisted of alcohol, wormwood, aniseed, lemon balm and other herbs. This formula was later distributed by a certain Dr. Ordinaire – and the success story of the "Green Fairy" was born. Around the year 1800 the formula was sold to Mr. H. L. Pernod of Pontarlier, France, where a minor production line was started and helped Pernod to gain a fame that lasted until our present time.
During the Algier War in the 19th century France made use of the inciting effects of Absinthe and provided the Soldiers with regular rations of the liquor. The veterans who had survived this war soon pushed the production output from 400 liters daily (appr. 90 gallons) to more than 20.000 liters (appr. 5.000 gallons) a day and more. Absinthe distilleries started to spread all over France like mushrooms.
However, artists and intellectuals of those times were the ones especially devoted to Absinthe. Many great works of contemporary art owe their existence to the inspiring effects of the spirit. Great names like Baudelaire, Manet, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Oscar Wilde, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, van Gogh, Gauguin and Picasso are found among these early adepts of Absinthe.
For different reasons around 1910 the total turnover of Absinthe distribution had reached immeasurable peaks. Many distilleries made use of low-grade alcohol which in some not too rare cases caused blindness among the consumers. These irresponsible dealings with the drink finally resulted in the prohibition of Absinthe in (almost) all countries of Europe by the year 1920.
Since in 1981 (and again in 1998) the European Community has returned to legalizing the production and distribution of Absinthe, the cult around this drink has experienced a true revival. Starting from London, Absinthe is about to conquer the club & party scene and leaves them all plunging back into the euphory of the 19th century.
"Absinthe is yummy"
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