Absinthe’s Artistic Curiosities
Industrialization brought unprecedented wealth and social change to many Europeans during the late 19th century, heralding in an exciting era marked by absinthe’s growing popularity and its artists’ use as inspiration. For some artists, absinthe was even considered hallucinogenic due to wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), its main ingredient. These hallucinogenic effects may have been caused by thujone–an active psychoactive compound found within wormwood that gave absinthe its bitter, black liquorish flavoring properties.
In 1869, Valentin Magnan, the head psychiatrist of France’s primary asylum, published research indicating that inhaling wormwood oil causes seizures in animals. As a result, anti-absinthe sentiment spread rapidly throughout Europe.
Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Rimbaud were two notable advocates of absinthe, yet its popularity endured its bad press. Ernest Hemingway paid absinthe a particularly poetic ode in A Farewell to Arms when he wrote, “Opaque, bitter, tongue-numbing, brain warming stomach turning idea changing liquid alchemy!” in his book A Farewell to Arms.
Today, despite its legal ban in the US and complex legislation surrounding thujone levels, many brands of absinthe are legally produced and available despite laws against its sale in this country. They can often be found for sale at specialty stores or online on Drizzly; with some brands produced at small family distilleries using an old traditional absinthe recipe bottled into large apothecary style bottles. They often come served alongside an elaborate set of paraphernalia that includes glasses with marks for water levels as well as intricate perforated sugar cube holders that look similar to butterknife holders which allows cold water drip over sugar cubes until sugar completely dissolving into solution – something they never did with traditional recipes used at large distilleries!