- Food and Cooking
Interesting Facts About Absinthe
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.
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?”
This film about Jack the Ripper has a morbid ambiance, enhanced with Fred Abberline (Johnny Depp) addiction to absinthe and Laudanum.