7 Incredible Facts About Absinthe “The Green Fairy”


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Absinthe has been shrouded in mystery since the first bottle was produced. Any drink associated with hallucinations named “Green Fairy” does require further investigation.

Something about this mystical spirit appeals to many, but not all that it seems, so here are 7 incredible facts about Absinthe that every drinks lover should know about.  

7 Crazy Facts About Absinthe

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1. Absinthe Was First Produced As A Medical Elixir

Absinthe was first produced as an all-purpose patient medicinal remedy in the 18th century by Dr Pierre Ordinaire. He later passed on his recipe to the Henriod sister from Couvet, Switzerland, who sold it as a medical elixir. 

In 1797, Major E Dubied attained the Absinthe recipe from the Henriod sisters and opened the initial Absinthe distillery called Dubied-Père-et-Fils.  

2. What Is Absinthe Made From?

wormwood
Wormwood is a vital ingredient of Absinthe

Absinthe distils a neutral spirit (grape spirit) with spices, herbs, and water. The primary botanicals used are referred to as the “holy trinity”; they are green anise, fennel, and the notorious…. wormwood.

Other commonly used by the best Absinthe brands are hyssop, melissa, star anise, angelica, peppermint, coriander, and veronica.

3. Can Absinthe Make You Hallucinate?

Can Absinthe Make You Hallucinate?

Absinthe contains wormwood, which has been believed to have hallucinogenic properties, but the amount in Absinthe is far too low for any noticeable effects. 

Drinking large quantities of Absinthe will have the same effect as most alcoholic drinks, such as whiskey or vodka. 

To be able to ingest the high amount of wormwood needed to hallucinate from Absinthe, one would instead get alcohol poisoning before seeing the “Green Fairy.”

4. Does Absinthe Drive You Mad?

Does Absinthe Drive You Mad?

Absinthe became synonymous with a mad genius when literary poets such as Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud sang its praises for influencing their works. 

Artist Edouard Manet painted the portrait “The Absinthe Drinker” in 1859, depicting a tramp in old rags in a new top hat with a green bottle of Absinthe beside him. The truth is, Absinthe will get you drunk, but you won’t lose your marbles.

5. Why Is Absinthe Called “The Green Fairy”?

5. Why Is Absinthe Called “The Green Fairy”?

There are many versions of this tale. The “Green Fairy” was the image used in an advertisement for Absinthe in the 19th century. The advert suggested that Absinthe would quickly get you intoxicated, at which point you may start seeing things, even fairies (possibly green ones!). 

As the alcohol content could be as high as 70% ABV, Absinthe will indeed get you intoxicated. So, as with drunken tails, the myth that the “Green Fairy” was born.

6. Absinthe Was Illegal

Two reasons led to Absinthe being banned in Europe and the US. The first was a tragic incident of the “Lanfray murders” that occurred in Switzerland in 1905. 

A farmer who had been binge drinking had consumed cognac, brandy, wine, and two glasses of Absinthe. That evening he sadly murdered his wife and children for unknown reasons. 

The public blamed Absinthe’s hallucinogenic properties, so the anti-Absinthe public movement began.

The second reason for the ban on Absinthe was due to its own popularity and success. The French wine industry suffered huge losses and could not compete with the Absinthe producers. Soon the wine lobbyists spread rumours that Absinthe was unpatriotic and made people who drank it crazy.

Absinthe fell victim to the rumours as it became banned in the US, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and Austria. But the Czech Republic continued producing Absinthe as the demand was still high.

7. Why Absinthe & The Sugar Cube?

Absinthe and sugar cube

The burning of the sugar cube over the “Green Fairy” was a marketing ploy to display various ways of drinking Absinthe in the early 19th century. 

Many Absinthe enthusiasts will claim that sugar spoils the authentic taste of the spirit. Still, many believe that the burning of the cube is to keep the “Green Fairy” at bay.

But with so much mystery surrounding Absinthe, the proper way to enjoy this spirit will be to follow the old ritual. Dip the sugar cube in alcohol, place it on the spoon over the Absinthe, light it and drip water onto it, and make a toast to the “Green Fairy.”

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Conclusion

Absinthe started as a medicinal elixir, quickly gaining popularity through the “Green Fairy” marketing advert. Although it is not hallucinogenic, it has a high alcohol content. Enjoy it responsibly, light the sugar, and toast to the “Green Fairy.”

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Further Reading

Below are some additional articles from The Drinks Geek blog. We write articles on several fascinating areas of drinks, including different brands, drink types, cocktail recipes and more.

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