Absinthe’s Global Influence
Few spirits remain as popular and controversial as absinthe. From its 19th-century French origins through to legal battles that plagued most of the 20th century, its history is full of drama. Today it’s been legalized globally and experiencing a global renaissance ranging from classic cocktails like Sazeracs to its own distilled and bottled varieties; even so, its myths and legends continue to haunt it even with legal status behind us.
Wormwood, the primary ingredient in absinthe, contains an addictive compound known as thujone which has been linked with everything from headaches to psychosis. Due to these dangerous effects, absinthe was banned worldwide until BBH Spirits in Britain began selling Hill’s Absinthe (now La Fee Absinthe), sparking a revival among fans of this green fairy spirit.
Modern absinthe distilleries utilize various herbs to flavor their beverages, with anise and fennel seeds being among the main elements. Their signature licorice-like taste provides an aromatic drink with bitter notes. Quality absinthes also feature subtle to earthy to floral spices that add layers of complexity to each glass of absinthe.
Artwork and advertisements from absinthe’s golden age conjured up images of urban lowlife, including images of drunkards with depressed expressions. But posters by Leonetto Cappiello and Henri Privat-Livemont gave a more optimistic account of its consumption.