All about Absinthe

Let’s learn more about this green magic position that “makes” you see fairies that also taste and smell like coughing syrup. 

What is Absinthe?

It is considered  a distilled, highly alcoholic beverage, an anise-flavoured spirit derived from botanicals, including the flowers and leaves of grand wormwood, together with green anise, sweet fennel, and other medicinal and culinary herbs.

It originated in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland in the late 18th century and the first use of the drink was not “for pleasure”, it was considered a medicine. 

A lot of people will say this is a liqueur, but in the bottling process of the drink they are not adding sugar, therefore it is a spirit. 

It is commonly referred to in historical literature as la” the green fairy” and here starts the history of “you will see fairies”. 

Absinthe traditionally has a natural green color(this color is sometimes enhanced artificially)  but may also be colorless. 

Types of Absinthe 

  • Swiss or French absinthe is considered the traditional type of absinthe. 
    • How is made:
      • Slowly distilling alcohol with the botanicals( flowers and leaves of grand wormwood, together with green anise, sweet fennel, and other medicinal and culinary herbs) and then coloring the nearly-done spirit naturally with additional herbs. 
  • Czech- or Bohemian style absinth, spelled without the ‘e’, 
    • How is made 
      • Similar to flavored vodka or whiskey. This is the “like liqueur type of absinthe (mixing a base alcohol with flavorings, coloring and sugar) 

What is Absinthe’s Alcohol Content?

This depends on which brand you choose to have. You can find drinks between between 45–75% alcohol by volume, or are 80-150 proof.

Why so much controversy around it?

In less words: lack of information. 

Absinthe was considered to have a hallucinogenic effect so it was voted dangerous. It was associated with a lot of crimes and bad behaviors, but then again if you drink your mind off, bad this will happen. Lack of information and most probably an interest in making money by other parties, (keep in mind in France for example, absinthe was more popular than wine, which did not sit well with the wine industry), made absinthe the back sheep of the alcohol industry. This resulted with a ban in the majority of the countries and decrease in popularity in the ones that didn’t take the drink out of the market.  

After more studies, the ban on absinthe was lifted and the revival of absinthe began. 

How Do You Drink Absinthe?

The most common way to drink it is to place a sugar cube on a slotted spoon over your shot and slowly pour cold water over until the sugar cube dissolves. This creates a milky white cocktail that is a bit diluted but still tastes like absinthe. This milky color happens when the absinthe contains anise oil and it happens because the oil is not combining with the water. 

A similar way but “fancyer” starts the same, you have the glass of absinthe and your fancy spoon but this time the sugar cube is soaked in a drop or two of additional absinthe, lit on fire, then dropped into the glass. This causes all of the absinthe to ignite before it’s doused with a shot of water.

And we should not forget about absinthe Cocktails. You can go with the classics like the Sazerac or Death in the Afternoon or make your own.

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