Absinthe, a high proof, controversial herbal liqueur, is available again in Britain after an 85-year absence. Twice the strength of most other spirits, the emerald green tipple of choice for 19th-century artists and intellectuals -- along with millions or ordinary Europeans -- has been banned in France, Belgium, Switzerland and the US since just prior to the first world war. Now, to the horror of some but the delight of many, a few British companies have secured contracts with tiny Spanish and Czech absinthe producers after discovering that the drink was never formally prohibited in the United Kingdom.
Manufacture and Production
Absinthe is an aromatic, dry and highly alcoholic herbal spirit . It contains anis ( liquorices flavor ) and the notorious Wormwood plant ( Artemisia ) as well as optional various other aromatic components, such as peppermint, cloves, cinnamon ( the juice of spinach, nettles and parsley are also sometimes used. )
Historically it was widely regarded as a “ very dangerous drink “ and is still banned in many countries !
“Turn-of the century Absinthe was fiercely potent stuff ."
The constituent herbs are macerated for about 8 – 10 days in alcohol and then distilled, the result being and emerald coloured spirit .
Effects of Absinthe
Historically many believed that a spirit lived within the Absinthe which is released with the opening of a new bottle ! Some Artists even claimed they created their art dazzled with a “ jade vision “ inspired by Absinthe .
At the turn of the 19th century, there was much hysterical press and allegedly serious articles and books on the subject…..
Quoting from : - “ The Beverages We Drink “ by W.N. Edwards, F.C.S. ( 1898 )
“ The seat of the manufacture of this dangerous beverage is in the canton of Neufchatel… It is largely used in France and America, and its use is growing in England… Absinthe drinking has a most deleterious on the nervous system, and regular tippling utterly deranges the digestive system, weakens the frame, induces horrible dreams, and may end in idiocy or paralysis !!!! “
The Bohemian artist set made Absinthe even more notorious, with their indulgences, by the likes of Toulouse – Lautrec, Hemmingway, Oscar Wildes etc. who drank it; and it was the cause, some say, of Van Gogh, cutting off his ear.Re-sulting in 4th March 1915 – Article 367 of the French Legal Code which banned Absinthe completely in France
Art. 367. – The fabrication, the circulation and the possession with the aim to sell, and the sale of Absinthe and other similar liquors which characters are determined in the decree are forbidden.
How to drink Absinthe?
The classical method is to pour an ounce of Absinthe into a glass. Next place the Absinthe spoon on the rim of the glass and an appropriate number of sugar cubes near the slots. Now pour about five ounces of water, v.e.r.y. s.l.o.w.l.y, over the sugar to dissolve it.
The other way to drink Absinthe involves dunking a spoon of sugar in the liquid, setting light to the spoon until the sugar has caramelized, then dripping the liquid sugar into the glass of Absinthe. Adding an equal part of water then puts out any excess flaming, and the drink is then poured into a cooler glass for drinking .