Absinthe - It’s all about The Green Fairy

Absinthe - A remarkably strong alcoholic beverage, which has been banned on several occasions in different countries, was an extremely popular drink during the19th- and early 20th-century in Europe and the United States. Flamboyant and dark characters like Aleister Crowley, Oscar Wilde and Vincent van Gogh all have in common that they all chased the green fairy during that time. In fact, during the 1860s, the hour of 5 p.m. was called l’heure verte ("the green hour") and the drink was enormously popular all over Europe, especially in France, but also in New Orleans. The latter has in fact a prominent landmark called the Old Absinthe House, located on the classical Bourbon Street (no 240, go there if you are in the neighbourhood). Originally called the Absinthe Room, it was opened in 1874, but the building (white and green, of course) was built 1807. It is said that Aleister Crowley (the British occultist) wrote an essay called "Absinthe - The Green Goddess" in the Absinthe House in 1918.

Absinthe has a very highly alcoholic level of 45–74% and it is made from a distillation of neutral alcohol, water and various herbs including: Grande wormwood, Green anise, and Florence fennel. The green colour which is common in most brands is a result from the herbs which are added.

The high alcoholic levels is certainly enough to get anyone drunk as a skunk, but in addition the drink contains small levels of thujone which has been singled out and blamed for being a potentially dangerous and possibly psychoactive drug.

Still, during the 1840ies absinthe was also used as a treatment for malaria.

There are several ways to drink Absinthe, the most common (and, well, coolest, because you get to play with fire) is to the so called “The Bohemian Method", where you light a pre-soaked sugar cube on fire on a special kind of silver fork. The burning sugar drops down in the glass igniting the absinthe and you then add water to douse out the flames. The water makes the drink slightly cloudy and it is said that this methods produce a stronger drink than the alternative “The French Method”.

Still, to be honest – Absinth doesn’t really taste that good, but you could drink it just for the coolness factor. In fact, Marilyn Manson has his own brand of absinthe liquor dubbed "Mansinthe”. The alcohol level? Well, 66.6%, of course, no surprise there really. Other famous absinthe modern pop culture references include:

Poppy Z. Brite's short story, “His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood”, the song “The Perfect Drug” with Nine Inch Nails where Trent Reznor drinks absinthe, and Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) where Count Dracula's seduces Mina Harker with absinthe and the brilliant quote: "The green fairy who lives in the absinthe wants your soul, but you are safe with me".

Disclaimer: Don’t drink and drive. And don’t drink and paint (remember what happened to Van Gogh and that unfortunate ear and sharp razor incident). 


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