Let me be mad, then, by all means! Mad with the madness of Absinthe, the wildest, most luxurious madness in the world! Vive la folie! Vive l’amour! Vive l’animalisme! Vive le Diable!”
― Marie Corelli, Wormwood: A Drama of Paris
March 5th is International Absinthe Day!
The Green Fairy, as Absinthe is known worldwide, is one of the most misunderstood elixirs ever created and consumed, its mysteriousness propped up by a worldwide ban for nearly 100 years.
Absinthe, is a highly alcoholic distilled spirit. What Absinthe is not is a liqueur as it is often mistaken for. Liqueurs are sweetened by adding sugar. Absinthe is not traditionally bottled with added sugar and is, therefore, classified as a spirit. Absinthe is traditionally bottled at a high level of alcohol by volume, but it is normally diluted with water prior to being consumed, as we will discuss in a moment.
Absinthe is made with herbs – primarily aniseed, sweet fennel and wormwood, these are the main flavor components in the spirit. The different botanicals are what also gives absinthe its famous natural green color, inspiring the nicknames “Green Fairy” and “Green Goddess”.
At its height in popularity, towards the end of the 19th century, when the French were drinking up to 36 million litres of absinthe per year, the nearly 30,000 cafés in Paris were transformed every day at 5:00 p.m. into l’Heure Verte, the Green Hour.
How to drink Absinthe, the traditional way.