Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Absinthe- the Bohemian Drink, the Green Fairy, the Forbidden Drink

Researching unusual Herbs, I stumbled on Absinthe!

Absinthe,  the Green Fairy (la Fee Verte), that mysterious spirit rumored to drive artists mad, said to be the inspiration for Degas and Manet, van Gogh and Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and Oscar Wilde!
Many artists featured absinthe in their works, even adding it to their paints!

Twice as strong as whisky and vodka , the flavor is said to be similar to anise-flavored liqueurs, with the light bitterness and complexity of multiple herbs. Its unusual glowing chartreuse green color is derived from chlorophyll.

Bitter in taste,
adding sugar is an important part of the Absinthe preparation ritual.
The traditional way is to put a cube of sugar on a slotted spoon across the edge of a tall glass and gently pour Absinthe over it.
Afterwards, fresh water is poured slowly over the sugar, till it dissolves. Stirring the mixture with a spoon changes the color from green to a cloudy white!

This preparation is considered an important part of the experience of drinking absinthe, so much so that it has become ritualized, complete with special slotted absinthe spoons and other accoutrements!

"Let me be mad..mad with madness of Absinthe, the wildest most luxurious madness in the world." - Marie Corelli

Firsthand experience Chris had some in Sao Paulo, and calls it a huge sweet licorice drink with too little absinthe. While he doesnt recall anything else, he's heard tales about other people getting high on absinthe. Seemed it was just too sweet for his taste! thank you, Chris, for sharing.

Anyone else?

Due to the outrageous actions of Jean Lanfray, presumable under its influence, Absinthe was banned in France and the U. S. in the 1900s. "Fake" absinthes, without thujone & absinthinium, but using other  artemisia herbs are available as well as this Absinthe making Kit  pointed out by Chris.

The Herb
Invented in Switzerland, 1797, as an Elixir, this spirit is named after the Herb Artemisia absinthium, or Wormwood, long believed to be a hallucinogenic and includes Anise & Fennel, the elating Cardamom & another hallucinogenic Angelica.

It is thought that the Latin “Absinthium” comes from the Ancient Greek for “unenjoyable” or “without sweetness”, referring to wormwood’s bitter taste.

Since ancient times wormwood use is documented for easing labor pains, poisoning from toadstools and hemlock.

While the precise origin of absinthe is unclear, medical use of wormwood dates to ancient Egypt and  mentioned as early as circa 1550 BC.
Wormwood extracts and wine-soaked wormwood leaves were used as remedies by the ancient Greeks.
To stimulate digestion and as a cardiac stimulant, but mainly taken as a tonic.

My current love is another Artemisia herb, artemisa pallens, Davana, said to be the most beautiful scent on a man, changing scent on the wearer, making it one of those truly individual fragrance.

This very rare essential oil has a strong complex fruity note along with green notes & a hint of woody notes.

The closest I have smelt it, is aftelier's Fig, but it isnt as sweet, and has a rich complexity of green notes.

The smell of the actual plant is very beautiful and it is one of the rare herbs that keeps its fragrance even after being dried for several days.

I've also made a natural EDP with it called Male Delicious in combination with Rock Rose (Rose of Sharon) & Benzoin.
Infusing Davana seems to be going well for the first time. I have a few drops on the inside of my wrist- the intial fruity, delicious notes dry down to complex herbal notes & finally left with dry, woody tones that linger some 25 minutes.
I plan to try blending it with citrus notes & the ethereal Pink Lotus, the central note of Mystique - since I have some amount to experiment with.

If Davana was used to flavor a liquor, I can imagine how awesome it'd be, based on its scent alone! No wonder absinthe drove people mad!

Read Monica's beautiful poem inspired by Absinthe Perfume , and a review on the poem- inspiring Perfume.  A must read .... and a must have.

Ode to the Green Fairy
La Fee Vert is knocking at my door again
She must not know who I am ...

Monica's perfume reviews and other poetic writings on skincare
Blog http://perfumepharmer.com/organic-perfume-skincare-remedies/

& Poetic products

AbsintheDragonfly (Amanda) has an excellent, excellent post on Absinthe, where she is aging her Absinthe Perfume for consumption!

And right at the bottom is an Absinthe recipe

See her Wonderful Perfumes 
Anyone else wants to share info on Absinthe, please comment or write to me!


  1. Loved this info Esther, thank you for all this research...and the potions sound lovely.

  2. Thanks Monica,
    took several weeks to complete this post & Chris, one of your friends, helped too!


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