Talking absinthe to any connoisseur will likely bring up stories about its hallucinatory effects, yet these tales could more be related to its high alcohol content than any chemical compounds present in wormwood. Studies have determined that many side effects attributed to absinthe, like hallucinations, may actually be experienced when drinking excessively strong alcohol products like this one.
Absinthe is a green spirit with various flavor profiles. The base spirit can be created by steeping anise, fennel and grande wormwood together in high-proof alcohol; then distilling to separate oil from water and bitter essences. Different recipes add more botanicals for additional variations that give absinthe its signature green hue.
Most absinthes on the market today contain only trace amounts of thujone, an essential chemical compound found in wormwood, but even at its low thujone levels it remains an extremely potent spirit and should not be consumed by novice drinkers or those with fragile health conditions.
Breaux advises those seeking authentic absinthe should choose brands that have been produced using Artemisia absinthium (commonly referred to as grande wormwood), an essential ingredient in absinthe. Unfortunately, American market remains saturated with imitation products made up of little more than flavor-infused vodka and green dye in high proof alcohol–all sold at prices far beyond that of genuine absinthe.