St. George Absinthe Verte. For almost a century, absinthe has been surrounded by a shroud of mystery due to its ban for supposed hallucinogenic properties. When the ban was finally lifted in 2007, St. George Distillery in Alameda CA released the first legal American absinthe, which had been in the works for 11 years!
So…is absinthe really hallucinogenic? Well let’s see…absinthe starts off as a neutral spirit and is infused with the holy trinity of anise, fennel, and the infamous wormwood. Wormwood contains a substance called thujone, which *may* have some psychoactive properties (controversial). However, the amount of thujone from wormwood in absinthe is not nearly high enough to have any such effects.
So why the ban? Politics and propaganda. Absinthe became extremely popular in the 1800s in France (spread to Europe and the US), and after the Great French Wine Blight during which many vineyards were destroyed by a parasite, the wine industry was slow to recover. So, they jumped in with the temperance fighters of the day to portray absinthe as a crazy substance that would lead to insanity. Although there were some reported cases linking absinthe to deranged behavior, in reality these were largely related to moonshine “absinthe” made from low quality/impure substances that contained who-knows-what, not real absinthe. And so resulted the ban. Today, the absinthe on the market DOES contain wormwood (as this is what makes absinthe absinthe!), but don’t worry, it won’t make you hallucinate.
Traditional Absinthe Drip
- 1oz absinthe
- 3-5oz iced water
- (optional) sugar cube
Fill a small wine glass with absinthe. Sloooowly drip iced water (to taste) into the glass, optionally over a sugar cube resting on a small slotted spoon. The fogginess is caused by the oils from #anise in the absinthe, which are alcohol-soluble but not water-soluble. This is also why other anise-based spirits like sambuca or arak also turn cloudy.