Absinthe History: How the Green Fairy was born, banned and returned!
Absinthe is a herbal spirit, typically of green colour. It contains the active agents of a herb called wormwood or vermouth (artemisia absinthium). In a newspaper ad of 1769 the two Henriod sisters from Neuchatel, Switzerland, advertised their remedy "Bon Extrait d'Absinthe" which consisted of alcohol, wormwood, aniseed, fennel, lemon balm and other herbs. This formula was later distributed by a certain Dr. Ordinaire, who sold it as a therapeutic agent against stomach disease. Around the year 1800 the formula was sold to Mr. H. L. Pernod of Pontarlier, France, where a minor production line was started. The success story of Absinth -the "Green Fairy" began and helped Pernod to gain a fame that lasted until our present time. During the Algier War in the 19th century France made use of the inciting effects of Absinthe and provided the Soldiers with regular rations of the liquor. The veterans, who had survived this war, soon pushed the production output from 400 liters daily (appr. 90 gallons) to more than 20.000 liters (appr. 5.000 gallons) a day and more. Absinthe distilleries started to spread all over France like mushrooms. However, artists and intellectuals of those times were the ones especially devoted to the Green Fairy. Many great works of contemporary art owe their existence to the inspiring effects of the spirit. Great names like Baudelaire, Manet, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Oscar Wilde, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, van Gogh, Gauguin and Picasso are found among these early adepts of Absinthe. Around 1910 the total turnover of Absinthe distribution had reached immeasurable peaks. To satisfy the large demand some distilleries made use of low-grade alcohol and used poisonous cooper sulfate for artificial coloration of the drink. These irresponsible dealings with the drink together with the general anti-alcohol movement of these times finally resulted in the prohibition of Absinthe in (almost) all countries of Europe by the year 1920. In 1998 the European Community has returned to legalizing the production and distribution of Absinthe. From this day on the magic around this drink has experienced a true revival.