The aphrodisiac power of absinthe
The Western world’s most notorious elixir, absinthe hit its popularity peak around the turn of the twentieth century. In the early 1900’s, it was outlawed in most nations. This is because of its reputation for making men go mad. Intrigued? Then indulge yourself in the history of absinthe.
An ultimate aphrodisiac of decadence of La Belle Epoque, it was the cocktail of choice on Paris’ wealthy nightclub scene. Mixed with water dripped over a sugar cube on a specially designed silver spoon, the drink was an ultra-chic fashion statement.
But absinthe’s true power lies not in presentation. Its reputation comes from the dangerous mix of distilled herbs used to make this legendary elixir.
What’s in absinthe?
Its ingredients include a mixture of chamomile, hyssop and other herbs. But its potency and supposed hallucinogenic capabilities are owed to the addition of wormwood, a shrub-like perennial containing thujone. (Thujone has a similar chemical structure to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.)
In truth, we don’t fully understand its full effect on the body. It is a little tough to trace the use of wormwood in the history of this potent green drink since every manufacturer has a slightly different–often secret–recipe.
Despite the mystery, this almost magical drink is credited with everything from curing stomach ailments to inspiring great works of fiction. The most devout of absinthe’s fans credit the drink with bringing them visions of a gorgeous green fairy, also known as La Fee Verte, (think Tinkerbell meets Barbie).
Why the green fairy has a glamorous reputation
A sexy representation on recent films From Hell with Johnny Depp and the movie musical Moulin Rouge sparked a recent absinthe revival and a thirst for the history of this glamorous and mysterious drink. Many countries, including the U.S. recently revoked their ban on this spirit with a dangerous reputation.
And although it may sound exciting to recreate the glamour and danger of La Belle Epoque, only absinthes with thujone measuring at or below a permitted level may be sold in the United States.
Ready to taste? Then enjoy our Guide to Modern Absinthes.
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