A bitter, green or yellow alcoholic drink flavoured with wormwood.
Because of the stigma surrounding it, Absinthe is a drink that many have heard of, but few have had the nerve to try. However, as of late, Absinthe is once again making a come back, this time legalized and deemed safe for consumption. It is unclear as to when Absinthe was first created. But, its consumption can be traced back many, many years. During the middle to the late part of the 19th century, Absinthe was a favorite of writers and artists. It was said to inspire poets , authors and artists to create truly incredible works. Late in the 19th century, wine prices began to increase, and only the well-to-do could afford what was being produced. Middle-class citizens, including tradesmen and artisans, could not afford such an extravagance, and turned to cheaper libationsónamely Absinthe. The distilled spirit was a favorite choice not only for the price, but because it was thought to heighten the drinkerís senses and be much more potent than wine.
Unfortunately, as Absinthe became more popular, controversy over the drinkís effects began to swirl. It was thought to cause hallucinations and insanity, and the term Absinthism was coined. It wasnít long before the drink was banned in most countries worldwide, and it soon became a drink that many would avoid at all costs so as not to go insane!
So, what exactly is Absinthe and why was it thought to be such a toxic beverage? It could be because of the spiritís high alcohol content, which is usually around 68%. Or, it could be because of its main ingredient. The key ingredient used in making Absinthe is wormword, also known as Artimisia Absinthium. The herbís essential oils contain Thujone, which can be toxic when large amounts are consumed. This chemical is thought to be the reason for the effects that Absinthe had on its drinkers. Its other ingredients are not known to have any ill effects on a drinker, although in combination they are said to give the drink a licorice-type flavor with an aftertaste that is rather bitter.
Through extensive research, it has been found that Absinthe is not the toxic, hallucinogenic beverage that it was once thought to be. It has been found that Thujone is actually a GABA antagonist that does not cause hallucinations. But, if large amounts are consumed, it can cause muscle spasms. In addition, it is thought that the symptoms experienced by Absinthe drinkers were caused by poisonous chemicals that were added to more inexpensive versions in order to give it a brighter color. Today, because of these findings, Absinthe is making a comeback. It is no longer considered to cause ill effects, and its ban has been lifted in most countries.
Now that you are free to drink Absinthe without having to worry about hallucinating and seeing the Green Fairy, you need to know how to properly drink it. Absinthe has traditionally been served by placing a special slotted spoon containing a sugar cube over a glass of the spirit. Cold water is poured over the spoon, the sugar dissolves, and the green Absinthe is diluted and becomes cloudy. This cloudy effect is called a louche. It was also common to see Absinthe served in an Absinthe fountain, which was a large jar that allowed for the preparation of many drinks at once.
With the reemergence of Absinthe, there are sure to be many new drink recipes available. Work up the nerve, and try one!