Absinthe with it’s natural green color has been referred to as the Green Fairy. This anise-flavoured spirit is made from the flowers and leaves of wormwood, green anise, sweet fennel and other herbs, and because of it’s high alcohol level is normally diluted with water. With a slightly bitter taste, it is often poured into a glass of water over a sugar cube on a perforated spoon, some of which were elaborately designed for this purpose.
Absinthe was said to be both a narcotic and an aphrodisiac. It was adopted by the bohemian Parisian culture of authors and artists who claimed that it stimulated creativity. Absinthe’s legends caused it to be banned in most of Europe and North America. It took nearly a century before it’s reputation could be restored. In 1988, France lifted its ban on absinthe, but it wasn’t marketed under its real name again until 1998. Studies have proven that the ingredients have never been hallucinogenic, but it’s effects were due to the fact that it is 140 proof. Absinthe doesn’t come cheap, priced at about seventy dollars a bottle. Absinthe’s long past is the stuff of legend whether true or not.
I much enjoyed reading this. It made me recall (somewhat hazily, I confess) an evening with a friend at a grotto-like absinthe bar in Amsterdam when I first tasted the (as you note) legendary drink. We didn’t get drunk or high, though we had hoped for both when first setting out, mostly because we didn’t get much beyond our first glass. But the ritual was beguiling. Do you remember that extraordinary scene in “From Hell” with Johnny Depp lying in a bathtub preparing his absinthe drink?
I never acquired a taste for absinthe, but I do have a tiny little bottle of the stuff, the size you find on planes or cheap liquor stores, which I use when making Sazeracs, another drink with a complicated ritual of preparation.
The visuals on the post are wonderful. Is that /your/ absinthe spoon?
I’ve been to Amsterdam many times, but never to an absinthe bar there. No, although I would like to have it, the spoon is not mine.
This reminds me of the wonderful, now-cancelled HBO series Carnivale. One of the creepier characters, Lodz, used to drink absinthe. I can remember him using a “spoon” similar to the one pictured to pour the absinthe over a sugar cube.