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Nov-27-2007 07:24printcomments

Absinthe Makes Long Awaited Legal Comeback in the U.S.

This year alone, two brands of absinthe that are made according to traditional recipes have been legally imported to the U.S.

Albert Maignan’s painting of “Green Muse”
Sometimes absinthe is clear, sometimes it is colored, this reservoir glass is filled with a naturally-colored verte, next to an absinthe spoon.
Photos courtesy: Wikipedia

(SALEM, Ore.) - "Absinthe" is being consumed legally in the United States for the first time since 1915. The easing of restrictions have seen this unique and sought after green liquor making appearances on liquor store shelves throughout the country.

1896 poster by Privat-Livemont

The consumption of absinthe has been known for providing narcotic like - even 'hallucinogenic' qualities, and the way people consume it, by pouring it over a sugar cube in a spoon and mixing it with equal parts of water, has always kept the fascination with this alcoholic beverage alive. It isn't known however, for its good taste.

Interestingly, although it is sometimes mistakenly called a 'liqueur', absinthe is bottled with no added sugar and that classifies it as a liquor or spirit.

Wormwood is the ingredient in absinthe that has caused most of the controversy, and it is the part of the drink that at times has caused it to be illegal.

This year alone, two brands of absinthe that are made according to traditional recipes have been legally imported to the U.S., WJXT Channel 4 in Florida reported. Some liquor stores in the U.S. have reportedly refused to carry it, but there is little doubt that it will find plenty of popularity here.

This elusive drink is remembered for its legendary use among writers and artists in Paris, France and beyond during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Names like Degas, Van Gogh and Hemingway are heard in the lingering romantic association with the effects of absinthe in popular culture.

Absinthe a distilled, highly alcoholic, usually 68 to 80 percent, anise-flavored spirit made from herbs that include the flowers and leaves of the medicinal plant Artemisia absinthium, also called Grand Wormwood or Absinth Wormwood.

Adding to the mystique, absinthe is often referred to as la Fée Verte 'The Green Fairy'. Absinthe originally hailed from Val-de-Travers, Switzerland, it was an elixir/tincture. But it was France where over 2 million liters of absinthe were consumed a year during its peak of popularity.

Absinthe was vilified in the press during the early years of the 20th Century, and portrayed as a dangerously addictive, psychoactive drug. The murder of a family in Switzerland in 1906 was blamed on absinthe. Specifically in that case, the chemical "thujone" was blamed for most of what were regarded as its deleterious effects.

Modern absinthe. Left Vertes, middle blanches, right
Bohemian-style, with a prepared glass in front of each.

Those murders in 1906 led to absinthe's prohibition in Switzerland. Other countries followed, and by 1915 it was banned in several European countries and the United States.

Scientists say no evidence shows absinthe to be any more dangerous or psychoactive than ordinary alcohol. A modern absinthe revival began in the 1990s, as countries in the European Union began to reauthorize its manufacture and sale.

The LA Times reports that it took four years for a Swiss distiller, an importer and a Washington attorney to eventually jump through the hoops of the complex bureaucracy and land the drink on U.S. shores. As of August 2007, over 100 brands in a dozen countries are produced.

Special thanks to Wikipedia for information used in this article.

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Bunga July 17, 2012 9:55 pm (Pacific time)

this blog was definitely the most ennnatrieitg comment string I've read in a long time. 4th one that I've read on the subject and though I've only tried absinthe twice, I feel like I could set a few people straight already.Here are the highlights:1. Absinthe has been made and marketed lots of different ways throughout history.2. Le Tourment Vert is not consistent with some of those ways, and consistent with others.and 3. Marketing companies go to great lengths to service their clients.Now for my review. I'm a TX local bar manager, I've worked in the service industry for almost 8 years, have earned recognition both locally and nationally for cocktail recipes/crafting, and am a level 1 Sommelier.Overall it's a great product, well marketed, well crafted for it's purpose and audience, well presented and well priced.I definitely recognized what I would Identify as a louge when preparing the drink in a traditional manner.I certainly recognized the distinct characteristics of anise, wormwood, and fennel, as well as many other notes some might call favorable and others not so much.I'm all about approachable Particularly with things like Absinthe. purrists cry fowl, calling LTV a perverse imitation. It is not, it is not the same thing, it is a modern and different conception of something else, that is all.It's like making a movie out of a book, and then remaking the movie. The book was first a story, and the story first a thought, everything changes in stages of time.What makes these new manifestations, AWESOME is their ability to reach new audiences. To create an experience for someone that may not have chosen or had the option to experience it otherwise. That is beauty..You may look down on those that praise the film.. or the remake of the film, because you feel like you were a part of something closer to the truth, to it's inception. That somehow your experience is more valid because of it. I cannot say that you are wrong, only that as human beings, we must learn to accept each others experiences as valid. While the debate itself offers insight, the kind of abhorrent dissension that is often displayed by one party or another serves no purpose at all.Furthermore it weakens your point..Seek clarity, repugnance is a sign of strong passion, you clearly have something worth saying but do so in such a way that your words make it beyond the ears of those in the quire with you and into the community.

Caym December 16, 2009 9:33 pm (Pacific time) its perfectly legal in the Oregon last I checked (then again Oregon should be considered its own nation)

mbu August 21, 2009 7:13 am (Pacific time)

I've used it here in the free country of Formosa, Taiwan, Republic of China, ... Anyway, it is very interesting

TOM RHODES July 10, 2008 8:58 pm (Pacific time)


Nerd101 March 11, 2008 7:42 pm (Pacific time)

So Where Can You Buy Marilyn Mansons:Mansinthe At? I havent seen it anywhere and that sucks cause i really want some!!!!!

pagleno January 25, 2008 8:00 am (Pacific time)

your stupid i want some

chad December 24, 2007 3:27 pm (Pacific time)

green devil is wrong. "The Wormwood Society defines absinthe as an "anise spirit distilled from anise, fennel and wormwood." Fully authentic absinthes available on the U.S. market still contain trace amounts of thujone and the alcohol content is usually in the 110 to 144 proof range! At least five domestic distillers are readying products for the U.S.; Marilyn Manson will presumably be bringing his version of the spirit, “Mansinthe” to U.S. liquor stores and concert merch tables – it’s currently made in Switzerland with an alcohol content of 66.6%. Oh Marilyn, you devil, you!" let me reiterate "Fully authentic absinthes available on the U.S. market still contain trace amounts of thujone and the alcohol content is usually in the 110 to 144 proof range" do your homework next time green devil and stop spreading false information

green devil is a moron December 24, 2007 3:19 pm (Pacific time)

you are a moron. they have not filtered out thujone, there is still traces of that in the absinthe being imported. the amount of thujone found in these imported bottles is below the limit required by the US. get your facts straight before you start talking like a complete idiot.

Green Devil December 18, 2007 10:18 pm (Pacific time)

This and many other articles coming out now give the impression that the laws have changed. NO Laws have changed and traditional absinthe is still illegal. These companies have just filtered out the chemical Thujone , found in wormwood so that they can pass the FDA regulations. More Info The companies offering absinthe in the US are now on a public relations / marketing campaign to give the impression that “Absinthe is now legal” In reality no laws have changed

otto November 29, 2007 6:42 am (Pacific time)

cool, i have wanted to try this for a long time, but did not want to spend 80 bucks for a bottle inported from over seas. now, were can i get some?

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.