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
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
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).