Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder…

What is Absinthe?

Absinthe is a vivid green, highly alcoholic, licorice flavored spirit made primarily with the three herbs: Wormwood, Anise and Fennel. Absinthe has a certain mysterious allure; it has been taboo in America and most of Europe for the better part of the last century. Before it was banned, absinthe was an extremely popular but intriguingly controversial drink. The effects of absinthe are still not clearly understood. Claims that absinthe caused hallucinations and even madness ultimately led to its prohibition in the U.S. in 1912, and most of Europe by 1915. In America the absinthe ban was not lifted until 2007.

Absinthe was originally created in the late 1700s for medicinal purposes by Dr. Pierre Ordinaire, a French Doctor living in Switzerland. Dr. Ordinaire created a distilled tonic of herbs to cure various stomach illnesses. After Ordinaire’s death, Henri Louis Pernod purchased Ordinaire’s recipe book and began distilling absinthe in Couvet, Switzerland and Pontarlier, France. Both the name Pernod and Pontarlier became world renown for absinthe production over the next several decades. After the French banned absinthe in 1914, Pernod began distilling a wormwood-free, licorice flavored liqueur called Pernod Anise: currently known just as Pernod .

Although it originated in Switzerland, absinthe enjoyed its greatest popularity boom in France, particularly Paris, in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Absinthe became closely associated with the Bohemian art genre. Fine art and literature of this period often focused on the unconventional, gypsy-like people who immigrated to Paris from Bohemia. Artists and writers such as Oscar Wilde, Vincent van Gogh, Toulouse Lautrec, Mark Twain and Pablo Picasso helped fuel absinthe’s questionable reputation by claiming that it could enhance creativity and cause capricious mind alterations.

Absinthe is transparent green but turns milky when mixed with sugar water. This clouding is called louche or the ouzo effect. By itself, absinthe is very potent and bitter; it can be over 150 proof (or 75 percent alcohol.) For these reasons, absinthe is traditionally served diluted with sweetened ice water. The water is sweetened by pouring it very gradually over a sugar cube.

The Art of Serving Absinthe

Serving Absinthe is an Art
Serving Absinthe is an Art

The Traditional Recipe for Absinthe

Start with 1 ounce of absinthe
Start with 1 ounce of absinthe
Use a slotted absinthe spoon
Use a slotted absinthe spoon
Place the sugar cube onto the absinthe spoon
Place the sugar cube onto the absinthe spoon
Set the spoon on top of the glass of absinthe
Set the spoon on top of the glass of absinthe
Slowly drip 3-5 ounces of ice water over the sugar cube
Slowly drip 3-5 ounces of ice water over the sugar cube
The absinthe will turn a milky white.  This clouding is called la louche (pronounced  LOOSH)
The absinthe will turn a milky white. This clouding is called la louche (pronounced LOOSH)

The Ritual of Serving Absinthe

Traditionally, Absinthe was served …(to read more Click here)

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Author: ELJohnsen

emilyljohnsen.com

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