Renaissance Europe was an age of radical experimentation. People donned bold prints and colours, used highlighter-like shades of blues and greens, had false eyelashes, and donned beehive hairstyles from beehive to pillbox for men while women donned either mini skirts and dresses or more conservative styles such as French manicure or pillbox hats.

Absinthe was an integral component of this mix, made from Artemisia absinthium leaves or “wormwood,” it was an intense beverage with bitter and strong tastes that proved popular with bohemians, artists such as Van Gogh, Degas and ToulouseLautrec due to its “mind-altering” properties; yet temperance campaigners claimed it corrupted society and attempted to ban public sale of absinthe.

Magnan’s theories were part of a wider discourse that emerged following France’s defeat in the FrancoPrussian War. Now that Germany was much more populous, anxieties about public health and national security became paramount – this gave rise to an aggressive antiabsinthe lobby, intent on banning absinthe on any evidence it could cause tuberculosis, moral decay, sterilization or supply soldiers for recruitment into army ranks.

Menno Boorsma successfully challenged the prohibition in 2004, which was later found unenforceable. Belgium lifted its ban two years later due to European food regulations citing exemption, leading a steady rise in distillers making absinthe. Since then, La Fee has proudly participated in this renaissance; we work with some of France’s premier manufacturers and ensure our product has been thoroughly tested for thujone (the active chemical found in wormwood) to comply with EU standards for absinthe production.