No you’re not hallucinating, it really is National Absinthe Day! Not as controversial as it used to be, it is commonly used for a variety of delicious cocktails that you can find at just about any Speakeasy style bar today. Check out this blog post to learn more about this wonderful, strange spirit:
“After the first glass of absinthe you see things as you wish they were. After the second you see them as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world. I mean disassociated.”- Oscar Wilde
Revered by famous author Oscar Wilde and bohemian culture, absinthe was the drink of choice with a long-running misunderstood history. Banned in the US until 2007, absinthe was thought to have caused hallucinations. Allegedly the thujone content in wormwood (one of the ingredients of absinthe) is thought to be the cause of the alleged hallucinations. Inferior versions of absinthe may have contained a variety of substandard ingredients that did indeed cause madness and hallucinations.
For absinthe to be considered “legitimate” absinthe, it must contain the following ingredients: Grande Wormwood, Roman Wormwood, anise seed, sweet fennel, melissa (lemon balm), and hyssop. It should contain no additives, sugar or coloring of any kind that doesn’t occur naturally. Switzerland in fact has a law that defines what makes absinthe, absinthe! No other country has defined or regulated the drink since its conception in the 1700s. A French doctor named Pierre Ordinaire is credited to be the creator of absinthe. It was originally created for medicinal purposes.
In the 1860’s, absinthe had become such a popular drink that 5pm in France was considered the “cocktail hour” known as l’heure verte-the green hour. By 1910, more absinthe was drunk than wine in France, and the French wine industry revolted. It’s thought that this could be the start of a slanderous campaign against absinthe. Government agencies took note of the drink’s popularity and notoriety, and it was banned in 1912 in the United States and then France in 1915.
In 2007, the ban was lifted on absinthe prohibition in the US and you’re nowlegally able to purchase it. Drink up (responsibly!) in honor of Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde, and Vincent van Gogh. Raise your glass to the green fairy, la vie boheme!