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Interesting Facts About Absinthe

Updated on April 3, 2016
Two absinthe glasses. Left, Swirl glass. Right Pontarlier reservoir glass.
Two absinthe glasses. Left, Swirl glass. Right Pontarlier reservoir glass. | Source

With its essential ingredients of wormwood and anise, few would have marked absinthe out for greatness. Yet, this mysterious green concoction has attained almost legendary and certainly mysterious status as an elixir. The following offerings relate facts and trivia about this green potion fit for artists, fairies and working class masses.

Absinthe takes its name from the Greek word for wormwood, apsinthion . The Greek term also means unusable .

The ancients fixed potions of absinthe to treat various venereal diseases. Once absinthe was drunk for recreation, sugar would be added to the liquid to counter the bitterness of the wormwood.

Dr. Pierre Ordinaire is credited with this extraordinary drink, however, near the end of the eighteenth century as he was searching for a potion to aid with digestion. His concoction would become the celebrated drink of Parisian cafes.

The plant oils give absinthe its characteristic shade of emerald green. This in itself gives the drink its arresting appearance, but adding water involves a further transformation of the liquid to a pale cloudy green.

Generally, absinthe’s alcohol content ranges between 55 and 75 percent.

Interesting Video on Absinthe

Many of France’s most celebrated writers and artists applauded absinthe drinking. Among them were Edgar Degas, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.

Toulouse-Lautrec and Gauguin are credited with introducing absinthe to Van Gogh.

Toulouse-Lautrec apparently drank absinthe with wine, cognac and in colorful cocktails known as rainbow cups. After bouts of poor health and drunkenness the artist’s parents placed him in an asylum.

Ernest Hemingway had a cocktail created as a signature drink that paired absinthe with champagne.

Because absinthe could be produced so inexpensively it was even accessible by the working poor. However, their version of absinthe was not the same quality imbibed by the wealthy class who also favored the drink.

Perhaps the best known absinthe makers were the Pernod Fils Distillery. Each maker would use its own recipe, however. Other herbs that might be used in the drink were chamomile, juniper, melissa, fennel and hyssop.

Absinthe would become a serious competitor to many French wineries and brandy sellers who were instrumental in the eventual banning of the celebrated drink.

One of the world’s most famous absinthe bars was New Orleans Old Absinthe Bar which was frequented by the likes of Mark Twain and Walt Whitman.

Absinthe was first linked to madness in a study begun in 1859.

Switzerland was the first nation to ban the drink in 1910 after it was linked to a couple murders. The U.S. followed suit in 1912 and France finally banned the drink in 1915 after it was blamed for more army recruits.

Versions of absinthe are undergoing a revival today. In Brazil, some 28,000 bottles of absinthe are consumed annually.

Today, absinthe gear or items associated with the drink are highly collectible. Everything from absinthe spoons to absurd absinthe postcards is prized by collectors. Vintage absinthe sugar dishes, spoon vases and old advertisements are also valuable.

Oscar Wilde once wrote, “What difference is there between a glass of absinthe and a sunset?”

From Hell [Blu-ray]
From Hell [Blu-ray]

This film about Jack the Ripper has a morbid ambiance, enhanced with Fred Abberline (Johnny Depp) addiction to absinthe and Laudanum.

 

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    • moiragallaga profile imageAUTHOR

      Moira Garcia Gallaga 

      7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      I too love the mystery around absinthe myself, Dolores. Thanks for dropping by and for your comment.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      7 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Absinthe is so pretty! And the mystery surrounding it makes it more alluring. Don't know much about it, but I thought that the whole psychedelic thing had more to do with the production than the contents.....

    • moiragallaga profile imageAUTHOR

      Moira Garcia Gallaga 

      7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Much appreciated Epigramman!

    • moiragallaga profile imageAUTHOR

      Moira Garcia Gallaga 

      7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you for your comment T-Parker, especially for pointing out additional interesting details about Absinthe.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 

      7 years ago

      ..well I just posted this most awesome and interesting subject to my FACEBOOK page of happy absinthe drinkers with a direct link back here ......and that's the great thing about hubpages - you learn something new everyday.

      lake erie time ontario canada 2:09am

    • T-Parker profile image

      T-Parker 

      7 years ago from Greater Toronto Area

      An interesting collection of facts regarding the stuff, but you fail to go into detail regarding the particular effects of absinthe over other drinks (as I understand, having never tried it, it is more along the lines of a psychedelic substance than merely a highly alcoholic beverage, the characteristic constituent being the wormwood-derived thujone, though it's particular effects on the brain are in question with regard to its relatively low concentration in absinthe)

      Not to say that I didn't enjoy thoroughly reading this hub, I must say nevertheless that it left me wanting more. Absinthe has gained a resurgent popularity in various parts of Europe, even to the point that the alleged absinthe connoisseur Marilyn Manson has developed his own brand, 'Mansinthe' available even in some states of the U.S.

      Check out http://www.tempusfugitspirits.com/

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