Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

The Green Fairy Returns (absinthe)
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ^ | 9/07/01 | Julia Nolte

Posted on 09/09/2001 1:03:12 PM PDT by LarryLied

                 The bar is almost empty in the
                 afternoon. Its chrome-plated stools and greenish
                 marble countertop coolly reflect the lamplight. A
                 woman sits alone at one end of the bar and leans
                 against her own reflection in a mirrored wall.

                 Only a second glance reveals the secret diva of this
                 locality on the shelves behind the counter -- absinthe.

                 There it is, that legendary herbal spirit, displayed in
                 seemingly endless variations, including Absenta Deva,
                 Absenta Serpis, Staroplzenecky, Absinthe Ordinaire
                 and Absenta Tabu. Their various shades of green
                 shimmer alluringly, but the woman at the bar is not
                 inclined to try them. "That's an intoxicant," she says,
                 "I'd rather not touch that stuff."

                 The "green fairy," as the potent liquor is often called,
                 has an interesting history: Once hugely popular among
                 artists and the public alike in the 19th century, it was
                 later banned in most of Europe because of its side
                 effects. Only recently the potent mixture is making its
                 comeback. True absinthe-lovers even conduct a ritual
                 using special glasses and spoons when consuming the

                 Oil of vermouth and alcohol are usually the main
                 ingredients of the green liqueur. This basic mixture is
                 enhanced by aniseed, fennel, hyssop and lemon balm,
                 and the dosage of the various ingredients determines
                 the individual flavor of the spirit. Vermouth gives
                 absinthe its green color and its bitter taste. And it turns
                 it into a different drinking experience altogether: Oil of
                 vermouth contains thujone, a neurotoxin that, if taken
                 in an overdose, can cause delusions, convulsions and
                 lasting damage to the nervous system. Enjoyed in
                 small amounts, however, thujone has a stimulating
                 effect and intensifies one's perception.

                 The Patience bar in Frankfurt's Nordend district is a
                 true oasis for absinthe-lovers: Here, the menu is as
                 green as the drink and guests can choose between
                 various absinthe cocktails that bring the cult drink of
                 the 19th century sip by sip into the present age.

                 There is, for instance, "Absinthe Blanc," a mixture
                 consisting of absinthe, almond liqueur, cream and
                 chocolate flakes. "You mustn't drink too much of this,"
                 the bar owner, Patience Läsker, warns with a laugh --
                 not referring to the dangers of intoxication but to
                 consequences for the waistline. The most famous of the
                 cocktails is called Death in the Afternoon, which was
                 created by novelist Ernest Hemingway, who added
                 champagne to absinthe. At a price of DM18.50 ($8.60),
                 this mixture is also the most expensive item on the

                 Just as extraordinary as the drink is the way it is
                 consumed: During the absinthe ceremony, cold water
                 trickles through a sugar cube lying on a perforated
                 spoon before dropping into the absinthe. This results in
                 a characteristic clouding of the liquid, called louche. In
                 a modern variation of the old ritual, the sugar is set on
                 fire, before it, now caramelized, sweetens the absinthe.

                 The flame licking around the sugar conjures up images
                 of dark back rooms and secret chemist's concoctions,
                 of the Val-de-Travers in Switzerland, where the first
                 absinthe distillery was opened in 1797, and of
                 paintings by famous artists. For instance, Pablo
                 Picasso's absinthe drinker, who sits slumped next to a
                 shimmering absinthe glass and dreams of distant

                 Artists and writers like Oscar Wilde, Henri de
                 Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Allan Poe
                 and Edvard Munch also paid homage to the green
                 fairy, and said they believed that they owed her their
                 visions and inspiration.

                 But the strong side effects led to absinthe being banned
                 in one country after another -- 1910 in Switzerland,
                 1914 in France and 1923 in Germany. Absinthe
                 regained its legality only a few years ago, through the
                 European Union's Aroma Directive of 1998, which
                 permits the production of absinthe with a maximum
                 thujone content of 10 milligrams per liter, thus marking
                 the renaissance of the green fairy. Ironically, it is still
                 prohibited in Switzerland, the country where it

                 In Germany, bars offering absinthe have opened in
                 Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Munich and Frankfurt.

                 German absinthe merchant Sven Baumgärtner has
                 been selling the Czech Hills Absinthe in Germany
                 since January 2000. After a slow start, he says, demand
                 by specialist wholesalers and individual customers has
                 been growing steadily. "Absinthe has now become an
                 obligatory item in every good bar," Mr. Baumgärtner

                 The absinthe wave, which for now is not much more
                 than a ripple, will finally drag this mystical drink out of
                 the back room, when it washes into the supermarkets.
                 The shimmering green bottle has already been sighted
                 there, concealed between innocuous names like
                 Fernet-Branca and Punte Mes. But most people still
                 tend to miss the green luster of the secret diva.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-6061-8081 next last

Many painters were inspired by the
"Green Fairy:" The three paintings here,
by Edgar Degas (top) and Pablo Picasso (center and bottom)
are all called "The Absinth Drinker."
(Photo: AKG, file)

1 posted on 09/09/2001 1:03:12 PM PDT by LarryLied
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: LarryLied
Now to get this stuff legal and OK in American bars! (ha ha...)
2 posted on 09/09/2001 1:07:15 PM PDT by StoneColdGOP
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: StoneColdGOP
Not much chance of that.

Thomas Prisinzano, Graduate Student Department of Medicinal Chemistry Medical College of Virginia Campus, Virginia Commonwealth University writes:

Absinthe drinkers were reported to have experienced a double action intoxication . This intoxication combined the separate effects of alcohol and thujone. The alcohol produced a sedative effect in absinthe drinkers while the thujone is reported to have caused hallucinations (both visual and auditory) as well as excitation.

The only proven effect of thujone, however, is its toxicity to the brain. The toxicity of thujone in the brain is believed to result from its structural similarity to tetrahydrocannibinol, or THC , the active compound in marijuana.

Cannabis has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes and has great therapeutic potential.

Thujone and THC have similar shapes, and it is believed that they interact with the same biological receptor to produce their similar psychological effects. The similarities between the molecules include gem dimethyl groups and a similar carbon framework. It is also believed that the hydroxyl group of THC and the carbonyl of thujone may interact at the same site. Modeling studies show a good degree of overlap.


3 posted on 09/09/2001 1:11:56 PM PDT by LarryLied
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: LarryLied
Golly. Sounds like fun. We can't have Americans having fun and enjoying themselves, now can we?
4 posted on 09/09/2001 1:16:34 PM PDT by StoneColdGOP
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: StoneColdGOP
Oops...forget the above:

For a while it was hypothesized that thujone and tetrahydrocannabinol had the same site of action. This was believed to be true because of the similarities in their structures and effects. But in 1997, it was shown that neither thujone nor wormwood binds to the canabinoid receptor.

5 posted on 09/09/2001 1:21:02 PM PDT by LarryLied
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: LarryLied
How Dubya won on the 'Ab-sinth-ee' ballot:
The RNC gave out samples of The Green Fairy in Florida and they punched the wrong chads. Hic!
6 posted on 09/09/2001 1:36:36 PM PDT by poetknowit
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: poetknowit
More than a few people in my county were probably around when absinthe was legal. Likely they have horded bottles they keep next to their Trotsky, Stalin and/or Lenin shrines. Palm Beach County is in another world.An alien planet on which the indigenous media tells the residents everyday that the Klu Klux Klan and the Tsar's cossacks are about to wipe them out if they don't vote Democrat.
7 posted on 09/09/2001 1:56:33 PM PDT by LarryLied
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: LarryLied, Orual
Degas: The Absinthe Drinker

She looks none too cheerful.

8 posted on 09/09/2001 2:04:44 PM PDT by dighton
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: LarryLied
And here I always thought that Pernod was Absinthe without the wormwood, kinda similar to Green Chartreuse.


PS Remember: Absinthe makes the mind go wander!

9 posted on 09/09/2001 2:22:45 PM PDT by Gandalf_The_Gray
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: poetknowit
Land sakes, maybe we should employ that tactic in California! We get accused of everything else already anyways.
10 posted on 09/09/2001 2:24:48 PM PDT by StoneColdGOP
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: dighton
Let her eat wormwood.
11 posted on 09/09/2001 2:36:19 PM PDT by Orual
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

Comment #12 Removed by Moderator

To: Central Scrutiniser
Heh heh, sounds like a bad bottle of Smirnoff!
13 posted on 09/09/2001 2:44:42 PM PDT by StoneColdGOP
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: LarryLied
Here is an excellent site on Absinthe. La Fee Verte

BTW, Betina's Elixirs is an American company, so if you want to order any, it clears cutoms easily.

14 posted on 09/09/2001 2:47:44 PM PDT by Bella_Bru
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dighton
And that's while the glass is still full.
15 posted on 09/09/2001 2:48:06 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

Comment #16 Removed by Moderator

Comment #17 Removed by Moderator

To: LarryLied
It's about time.
18 posted on 09/09/2001 2:54:12 PM PDT by aruanan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Gandalf_The_Gray
I thought chartreuse was made from green apples.
19 posted on 09/09/2001 2:59:04 PM PDT by MHT
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Central Scrutiniser
Bella_bru's web site mentions that hill's tastes exactly like you mentioned.
20 posted on 09/09/2001 3:07:49 PM PDT by gjenkins
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-6061-8081 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson