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“After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, which is the most horrible thing in the world.”
This is what Oscar Wilde wrote of absinthe, the high-proof spirit tasting of anise, fennel and exotic aromatics.
Absinthe upholds quite the evocative reputation - it was banned in the early 1900s in most of Europe and the United States after drinkers often experienced visits from la fée verte, or the green fairy. Other legends took it further, claiming imbibers could succumb to insanity, suicide or even murder.
The American ban on the spirit has since been lifted in 2007, and modern varieties contain severely regulated amounts of wormwood, the ingredient linked to its supposed hallucinogenic effects.
Maxwell Britten, head bartender of Maison Premiere in Brooklyn, New York, thinks we may have judged the green fairy too quickly - and that her reputation isn't quite what it used to be.
Five Misunderstandings or Misgivings about Absinthe: Maxwell Britten
2. It is said the thujone content in wormwood is what causes hallucination.
3. Most absinthe is traditionally made anywhere from 50 percent to 80 percent in alcohol, that is 100 to 160 proof.
4. By the early 1900s, the French nation drank two times more absinthe than wine.
5. Absinthe is not from the Czech Republic, never was or has been (legitimately).
Five Fast Facts About Absinthe
1. For absinthe to be acknowledged as legitimate absinthe, it must contain: Grande Wormwood, Roman Wormwood, anise seed, sweet fennel, melissa (lemon balm), hyssop. It is traditionally made with all natural herbs and flavors and should contain, no additives, sugar or coloring.
2. Absinthe was invented by an eccentric doctor in Couvet, Switzerland in the mid-1700s and went commercial in the early 19th century. When the doctor first invented it, it was known by patients as an herbal medicine, more of a tincture or elixir at the time meant to help internal ailments and digestive problems.
3. In the 1840s absinthe grew in national popularity in France, and the French government issued rations of it to soldiers when they were in Algeria to prevent malaria. It soon became a patriotic libation by troops and in turn also a favorite by the bourgeoisie.
4. By the 1860s absinthe had become so popular among all social classes, 5 p.m. was the cocktail hour or known as l’heure verte - the green hour.
5. Absinthe was banned from production and commercialization in all exporting and importing countries of it by 1914 (excluding Spain). The absinthe ban was lifted in the United States on March 5, 2007 and currently there are several domestic and imported absinthes sold commercially.
Five Absinthes Domestically Made, The Real Deal from the United States
1. Pacifique, an Absinthe Verte from Washington
2. Germain-Robin, a blanche from California
3. Delaware Phoenix “Meadow of Love”
One of the herbs used in the recipe is violets. In here, there is a different ratio of its base ingredients compared the other expression 'Walton Waters.'
'Meadow of Love' is known for its slightly more floral and bitter - or should I just say funk - quality."
4. North Shore “La Sirene” Absinthe Verte
This is pretty traditional as far as its recipe goes, it is kind of light and a tad spicy which I think makes it an absinthe that anyone can enjoy."
5. St. George Absinthe Verte
Its louche (opaqueness when the water hits) is very dark, almost a deep yellow. Personally, I find this absinthe to be bitter, oily and a bit citrusy. This is definitely one considered by the absintheurs as a really solid choice for Absinthe from the US."
Ever tried absinthe? If not, will you? Spill your opinions in the comment section.
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