In the 19th century, it’s said that many artists and writers sipped on Absinthe in order to get their creative juices flowing. The bright green spirit was said to have hallucinogenic properties, and was, in addition to helping promote creativity, also credited with causing madness in some of the people who chose to enjoy it.
In the early 1900s, the spirit was banned for sale in the United States and France. But since that ban was lifted in 2007, you can find the spirit at a number of different retailers as well as your local watering hole.
Absinthe is arguably one of the most misunderstood spirits out there, possibly due to the large period of time where no one was actually able to try it. Here are a few facts about Absinthe you might not know:
It’s Actually Not Hallucinogenic
This is one of those myths that I actually believed for quite a while myself. While many people think that Absinthe is hallucinogenic, it turns out, the spirit never was. The Absinthes currently on the market, as well as those that were sold prior to the ban, don’t have any hallucinogenic properties. The confusion comes due to the high alcohol content of the drink. So, when people thought they were hallucinating due to some sort of special substance in the spirit, they were actually just really drunk.
It’s Traditionally Served With Sugar
I can remember the first time I had “traditional Absinthe service” at a bar. Traditional service involves using a (massive) glass container filled with ice water. Think about those containers you might serve lemonade out of at a party, and then having it slow drip over a sugar cube that’s sitting on top of your glass. It’s elaborate, and something I definitely recommend trying at least once just because it looks cool. That said, the experience is more show that function.
Wormwood Was Originally Used For Medicinal Purposes
Before wormwood was used by distillers to make Absinthe, the wood was used for medicinal purposes. Once Absinthe started being made, some doctors would prescribe the spirit just like they might prescribe other medication.
That Green Might Not Be Real
Traditional Absinthe is bright green, something that happens when the liquor has been distilled twice with wormwood. Some of today’s distillers opt to just distill the spirit once, and then add green dye to the mix afterwards to make that green color pop, rather than go through the process again.
You Need it For Many Traditional Cocktails
Absinthe is an important part of a number of traditional cocktails, including a Sazerac and a Corpse Reviver #2. If you’ve had one of those drinks without Absinthe, then you haven’t been drinking the real thing.