Absinthe, the Green Fairy

The recipe of the most controversial and forbidden drink

Absinthe is a long time forbidden and mystery drink which with a a reputation of being powerful and unique among alcohols, promising to remain the drink of choice for all those looking to bring something wild, exciting, and sexy to the party, long into the future.

How you could make Absinthe
(Yes it is still illegal.. so don't try this at home.!)

Two processes can be used to create Absinthe: Distillation or Cold Mixing.

Distilled absinthe

Macerate botanicals in alcohol:
The botanicals are macerated in the already distilled alcohol before being redistilled one or more times with the herbal ingredients to impart complexity and texture to the beverage.

Distillation:
The distillation of absinthe first produces a colourless distillate that leaves the alembic at around 72 percent ABV (144 proof). The distillate can be bottled clear, to produce a Blanche or la Bleue absinthe, or it can be coloured using artificial or natural colouring.

Secondary maceration:
Traditional absinthes take their green colour from chlorophyll, which is present in some of the herbal ingredients during the secondary maceration. The natural colouring process is considered critical for absinthe ageing, since the chlorophyll remains chemically active. The chlorophyll plays the same role in absinthe that tannins do in wine or brown liquors. This is done by steeping wormwood, hyssop, and melissa (among other herbs) in the liquid. Chlorophyll from these herbs is extracted giving the drink its famous green colour. This type of absinthe is known as a absinthe verte.

Dilution:
After the colouring process, the resulting product is diluted with water to the desired percentage of alcohol. Historically, most absinthes contain between 50 and 75 percent alcohol by volume (100 to 150 proof).

It is said to improve materially with storage, and many pre-ban distilleries aged their absinthe in neutral barrels before bottling.

Cold mixed absinthe

Many modern absinthes are produced using the cold mix system. This process is forbidden in countries with formal legal designations of absinthe. The beverage is manufactured by mixing flavouring essences and artificial colouring in high-proof alcohol, and is similar to a flavoured vodka or "absinthe schnapps".

Some modern Franco–Suisse absinthes are bottled at up to 82.3 percent alcoholand some modern bohemian-style absinthes contain up to 89.9 percent. Because of the lack of a formal legal definition of absinthe in most countries, many of these lesser brands claim their products to be "distilled" (since the alcohol base itself was created through distillation) and sell them at prices comparable to more authentic absinthes that are distilled directly from whole herbs.

Ingredients

  • Neutral alcohol (Traditionally from a white grape spirit (or eau de vie)
  • Water
  • Botanicals ("the Holy Trinity": Grande wormwood, green anise, and florence fennel seeds)

Besides the "Holy Trinity" other botanicals are used, such as:

  • Petite wormwood
    (Artemisia pontica or Roman wormwood)
  • Hyssop
  • Melissa
  • Star Anise
  • Angelica
  • Dittany
  • Sweet flag
  • Coriander
  • Veronica
  • Juniper
  • Nutmeg

Alternative chemical coloring: store-bought food colouring to simulate the green colouration of verte absinthe can be used to enhance the strong green color.

First, grind the "Holy Trinity" (Grande wormwood, green anise, and florence fennel seeds) with a mortar and pestle. Second: mix with the rest of the dry ingredients  and macerate it for several weeks
(I personally leave it for about 1-2 months in an airtight (glass) container).

Absinthe

Some history...

The precise origin of absinthe is unclear. The medical use of wormwood dates back to ancient Egypt and is mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus, c. 1550 BC.

The first clear evidence of absinthe in the modern sense of a distilled spirit containing green anise and fennel, however, dates to the 18th century.

According to popular legend, absinthe began as an all-purpose patent remedy created by Dr. Pierre Ordinaire, a French doctor living in Couvet,Switzerland, around 1792. Ordinaire's recipe was passed on to the Henriod sisters of Couvet, who sold absinthe as a medicinal elixir. Major Dubied acquired the formula from the sisters and in 1797, with his son Marcellin and son-in-law Henry-Louis Pernod, opened the first absinthe distillery, Dubied Père et Fils, in Couvet. In 1805 they built a second distillery in Pontarlier, France, under the new company name Maison Pernod Fils. Pernod Fils remained one of the most popular brands of absinthe up until the drink was banned in France in 1914.

Absinthe was publicly associated with violent crimes and social disorder...

The period from 1875-1915 is now known in Paris as "the great collective binge." This was the period during which the truly awesome powers of the Green Fairy became known to the world, mainly through the art and writing and big mouths of Parisian and American ex-pat artists, who feel that absinthe opens wide the proverbial doors of perception.

In a glassy green haze, artists likeVan Gogh, Picasso and Degas, create famous artworks inspired by absinthe, and authors like Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway  all claim absinthe as their muse. Somewhere amongst the gritty smokestacks of industrial-era London, Mary Shelley writes most of Frankenstein in the midst of an absinthe binge.

During this period, La Fee Verte spreads out across the globe, enveloping Europe in an absinthe craze, and even traveling to the United States, where she became the drink of choice in cosmopolitan areas. Absinthe catches on especially strong in New Orleans , where bars set up ornate fountains to perform the slow ice-water dripping process – so integral to stylish consumption – for their customers.

Another heavy blow falls on absinthe’s popularity in 1905, when a Swiss man,Jean Lanfray, brutally murders his family, supposedly under the influence of the green demon.
Absinthe is forced underground for many years, although it, like alcohol during prohibition, is still around for those who choose to seek it out. Absinthe is never made illegal in Spain, Portugal, Mexico, the Czech Republic, or the UK. Unfortunately, all the rumors and hearsay about the sinister seductions of the Green Fairy make her seem inaccessible and dangerous for the majority of the twentieth century.

It is only thanks to recent modern science that the world has been given a wake up call. Absinthe does not, in fact, cause illness or insanity, Wormwood, much like vanilla extract, or mint oil, is just not the best thing to ingest in massive, concentrated doses. It is simply powerful and unique among alcohols.

The bans on absinthe are now slowly being lifted throughout Europe and North America, the only major holdout now remaining being the U.S., where it is legal to possess and drink absinthe, but not to produce or sell it.