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National Absinthe Day: Celebrating the Mystique of the Green Fairy

Absinthe has been legal for 17 years now, and when I asked my followers on social media what they wanted to know about Absinthe, I was amazed by the questions.

I heard from a few wanting to know how to drink it, a few wanting to understand it better, and a few friends in the Absinthe community (yes, there is an Absinthe community!) that wanted to make sure I shared some important facts about Absinthe.

Let’s address some common questions regarding the consumption of Absinthe that I was asked.

Is it bad to like drinking Absinthe straight?

When I was starting out with my brand on social media, I stirred a bit of controversy when I posted that I like Absinthe with a large ice cube, swirled in the glass until the Absinthe louched (became cloudy). I received a message offline that I was being talked about, because that is not the way it is done. Maybe, but it is how I like it! So, you won’t hear Absinthia telling you that the way you like to prepare Absinthe is wrong. As long as you don’t light it on fire. That was a marketing gimmick in the 1990s.

What can I mix it with? What can I serve it with? Is it for before or after dinner?

Absinthe is formally a Digestif, defined by Wikipedia as an alcoholic beverage served after a meal, traditionally believed to aid digestion even though there is not strong evidence to support this. The herbs included in the distillation of Absinthe include sweet fennel seeds. Fennel has been shown to help with digestion by reducing inflammation in the bowels and decreasing bacteria that cause gassiness. It also helps freshen the breath, and who doesn’t appreciate guests with fresh breath after a meal? Anise has some digestive health benefits as well.

As for mixing Absinthe, that is where the fun happens! The possibilities for mixing Absinthe in cocktails are endless. I have been collecting Absinthe cocktail recipes for nearly 15 years! I have hundreds of them, all sorted by base alcohol, on my website. My favorite recipe right now is Death at Midnight, a play on Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon, with Absinthe and sparkling wine. I love using the new Absinthia Absinthe Bleue, an Absinthe infused with butterfly pea flower, as the combination creates a gorgeous purple blush.

Where can I get it?

Where you can get Absinthe depends on location, which is dependent on distributors. While I am eagerly working towards the day my Absinthe is available worldwide, I can ship through my website to about 47 states. I have distribution in Louisiana, New York, Florida, Idaho, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and California, which means you can find Absinthia Absinthe there in bars and liquor stores. Want to know the best way to support a small brand? Ask your favorite bartender and liquor store owners to carry the products you like.

In celebration of National Absinthe Day, I invite you to explore the allure of this iconic spirit, raising a glass to the Green Fairy and the centuries-old tradition it embodies. Cheers to your journey of discovery and appreciation for Absinthe, a libation as rich in history as it is in flavor.

I heard it’s not safe.

Absinthe garnered a notorious reputation, but it was simply a victim of its own success. No other spirit with wormwood, such as vermouth and amaro, was made illegal, so why was Absinthe? French soldiers returned home with a fondness for Absinthe because French army doctors prescribed it in the 1840s Algerian Campaign to prevent fevers, malaria, and dysentery, caused by the extreme North African environment. Then, in the 1860s a disease called Phylloxera wiped out most of the grape vines in France. Absinthe grew in popularity until the time of day when the French would meet at cafes to end their day with a glass of wine became called L’heure Verte, the Green Hour, where wine was replaced by Absinthe.

When the grapes grew back healthy and wine returned, they found their previous customers were simply not interested. Absinthe had a cool ritual, it tasted amazing, and it was a lot cheaper than wine. Proper dilution brings Absinthe down to the same strength as the wine they were used to drinking during the Belle Epoque. Since it was similar in strength, it fit right in as a great replacement for wine. Cue the anti-Absinthe propaganda, which included calling alcoholism absinthism and sending drunks to insane asylums. When they dried out and returned home, they were told to drink wine because it was healthy.

Absinthe is legal again because it has been proven safe to drink by modern science. Turns out that the toxic thujone, an oil found in wormwood that can be toxic to humans, is absent after distilling. This is why there is no difference between EU & US Absinthe, respectively 35 ppm and 10 ppm, an argument often used to promote European Absinthe over American Absinthe. Truth is, true Absinthe is essentially the same regardless of where it is made. We use the same amount of wormwood as pre-ban Absinthe, and there is no thujone in properly crafted Absinthe.

Brian Robinson of the Wormwood Society wanted to make sure that I “talk about the thujone myth and how it only became of interest in the 1990s when marketers used the propaganda of the late 1800s to create a surefire way to separate gullible consumers from their money by marketing thujone levels. And that even some of the brands that claim the highest levels of thujone don’t contain ANY thujone when chemically analyzed.”

Absinthe is a lot like gin, a distilled spirit with botanicals. The botanicals in Absinthe are aniseed (Pimpinella anisum, not star anise), sweet fennel seed (oeniculum vulgare), and grande wormwood (artemesia absinthium), plus coloring herbs such as melissa and artemisia pontica. This brings up another question, “What makes one Absinthe higher quality than another?” To be a true Absinthe, it must contain those three herbs, the “holy trinity”. It must be distilled. It must not contain sugar or artificial colors (some of the most found Absinthes on the market do! If the green hue looks fake, believe it.), and it must not have herbs floating in the bottle.

All Absinthia’s Absinthes are made the way Absinthe was made in the late 1700s and 1800s, when it was first created by Marguerite Henriod. We have an episode of our podcast, Green Fairy Tales, dedicated to this remarkable story. We use organic herbs as often as possible and follow traditional distillation methods. Absinthia believes that a well-crafted Absinthe doesn’t need sugar to taste good, allowing the intricate flavors of the botanicals to shine through authentically. For the wealthy and aristocratic classes in Europe, sugar was a symbol of status and luxury. We feel differently about it today.

We have two traditional Absinthes, Absinthia Absinthe Verte and Absinthia Absinthe Blanche. The verte is naturally colored with traditional herbs. The blanche is bottled after distilling, and we love the story behind clear Absinthe, popular during the ban. If you didn’t color your Absinthe green, no one knew what it was!

We have two innovative Absinthes, our Absinthia Absinthe Barrel Aged and Absinthia Absinthe Bleue. Because of the delicious Sazerac made with rye whiskey, we rest our verte, pre coloring phase, in ex rye oak barrels for about 4 months. Inspired by Empress Gin, Absinthia knew that if butterfly pea flower worked in gin, it would work in Absinthe. The first naturally colored blue Absinthe, Absinthia Absinthe Bleue has a lovely subtle floral note that works so well with the neutral grape distillate and the holy trinity of herbs, wormwood, anise, and fennel. Try it in a Death at Midnight!

The post National Absinthe Day: Celebrating the Mystique of the Green Fairy appeared first on Chilled Magazine.

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