Mention absinthe and you may get one of three responses. Some will marvel at its mysterious charms, sharing tales about hallucinations and green fairy-like creatures; while others are eager to give it a try and tell about their favorite brand; but most will remain skeptical and uncertain what awaits them from this potency drink.
Absinthe is a high-proof spirit that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, the classic being pouring ice-cold water over a sugar cube held on a special perforated spoon and slowly dripping it on it, creating the “louche effect.”
Traditional absinthe is typically produced using neutral alcohol combined with herbs such as grande wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), anise, fennel, hyssop and veronica for its characteristic green hue and sedative effects. Thujone from Artemisia pontica provides this characteristic green hue. Unfortunately the resultant drink can often be very strong and bitter, hence why most absinthe is served diluted.
Absinthe’s unique flavor and mystifying associations made it a favorite among 19th century European bohemians, drawing in people like Oscar Wilde, Van Gogh, Picasso as well as law enforcement – it was banned six years prior to Prohibition! Unfortunately though, its reputation overshadowed reality – excessive doses can have dangerous side effects while in moderation, absinthe can add intrigue and elegance to both swanky cocktail parties as well as old-time European cane-and-tophat movie night-in!