Absinthe A Cultural Odyssey

Absinthe dates back to ancient Egypt around 1550 BC when its use first surfaced in written records on papyri from that country’s papyrus library. Meanwhile, Greeks would soak Artemisia absinthium leaves (Wormwood) in wine to treat digestive and flatulence problems without intoxication; Hippocrates even recommended wormwood-flavored drinks as treatments for menstrual pain, jaundice and anemia.

At first, the early absinthes were produced using wine as their base spirit; however, after the Phylloxera disease devastated European vineyards in the 1860s producers turned to using other base spirits such as rye grain or sugar beet as sources. Today some absinthes still produced from wine are available; however most absinthes today are made using macerating of herbs in clear base spirits, then redistilled to remove bitter principles before being tinted and colored for Blanche or Verte varieties.

Absinthe has long been associated with writers and artists due to its unique combination of potency and smooth taste, drawing them in. Even Ernest Hemingway praised absinthe’s capacity for changing ideas: he wrote of it “it is said to rot your brains but I don’t believe that; instead it just changes ideas”. Now that absinthe has been legalized in the US after nearly 100 years of prohibition, there are many ways of enjoying this unique elixir; for an exciting summer treat try watermeon absinthe martini or cool and refreshing watermelon rosemary spritz cocktails as refreshing summer treats!