What is Absinthe Drink?

by Kaia

Absinthe drink, often referred to as the “Green Fairy,” has a long and storied history that is both intriguing and controversial. Known for its intense flavor, distinctive green color, and association with bohemian artists and writers, absinthe has captured the imagination of many. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the world of absinthe, exploring its origins, production methods, myths, rituals, and its enduring allure in the realm of spirits.


I. The Origins of Absinthe

Absinthe, as we know it today, traces its roots back to the late 18th century in Switzerland, although its history can be traced even further to ancient herbal remedies. The creation of modern absinthe is often attributed to Pierre Ordinaire, a French doctor who developed a wormwood-based elixir in the early 19th century. However, it was Henri-Louis Pernod who commercialized the spirit, founding the Pernod Fils distillery in 1805 in Pontarlier, France.


II. The Key Ingredients of Absinthe

Absinthe is a complex spirit with a unique blend of ingredients that contribute to its distinct character. The primary components of absinthe include:


Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium):


Wormwood is the defining ingredient of absinthe. It provides the spirit with its characteristic bitterness and herbal notes. The presence of thujone, a chemical compound found in wormwood, contributed to the drink’s mystique and controversies.


Anise imparts a sweet, licorice-like flavor and contributes to absinthe’s louche effect, a mesmerizing clouding that occurs when water is added to the spirit.


Fennel adds a subtle earthy sweetness and complements the flavors of wormwood and anise.

Other Botanicals:

Beyond the core ingredients, various herbs and botanicals are used in absinthe production, which can include hyssop, coriander, angelica, and more. These ingredients contribute to the complexity and depth of flavor in the final product.

III. The Production of Absinthe

The production of absinthe is a meticulous and multi-step process that involves maceration, distillation, and precise blending. Here’s an overview of the production stages:


The selected botanicals, including wormwood, anise, and fennel, are macerated in a high-proof alcohol, typically neutral grain spirit. This process extracts the flavors, aromas, and essential oils from the herbs and botanicals.


The macerated mixture is then distilled in traditional copper stills, allowing for precise control of the distillation process. The distillation removes impurities and refines the spirit.


After distillation, the concentrated distillate is diluted with water to achieve the desired alcohol content. Absinthe is typically bottled at a high proof, often exceeding 50% alcohol by volume (ABV).


Absinthe may be colored using natural herbs or botanicals to achieve the signature green or bluish-green hue. While some absinthes are clear or naturally colored, the green version is more iconic.

Louche Effect:

The louche effect is a unique characteristic of absinthe. When ice-cold water is added to the spirit, it undergoes a mesmerizing transformation, clouding and developing a milky opalescence due to the interaction of oils and water-soluble compounds.

IV. Myths and Misconceptions

Absinthe has been the subject of numerous myths and misconceptions over the years, often fueled by its controversial history and association with artists and writers. Here are a few myths debunked:

Hallucinogenic Properties:

Absinthe does contain thujone, a compound found in wormwood, which was once believed to have hallucinogenic effects. However, the thujone levels in absinthe are typically low and not sufficient to induce hallucinations.

Banning Absinthe:

Absinthe was banned in several countries in the early 20th century due to concerns about its alleged harmful effects, but it has since been legalized in many of these places.

The “Green Fairy”:

The term “Green Fairy” is often used to describe absinthe, implying that it has mystical or supernatural qualities. In reality, the term is more of a poetic expression than a description of the drink’s effects.

Dangerous Reputation:

While absinthe has a reputation for being a strong spirit, it is no more dangerous than other high-proof alcoholic beverages when consumed responsibly. It is the high alcohol content that should be approached with caution, not mythical side effects.

V. Traditional Absinthe Rituals

Absinthe has a rich tradition of preparation and consumption rituals, some of which have endured over the centuries. These rituals enhance the experience of enjoying absinthe and contribute to its mystique. Here are a few traditional absinthe rituals:

The Drip Method:

The most iconic absinthe ritual involves the use of a special absinthe fountain or spoon. A sugar cube is placed on the perforated spoon, and ice-cold water is slowly dripped over it, dissolving the sugar and diluting the absinthe. The louche effect is a captivating part of this ritual.

The Flaming Method:

This ritual involves briefly igniting the absinthe-soaked sugar cube, allowing it to caramelize before being extinguished with water. The flaming method is less common and not recommended for beginners due to safety concerns.

The Bohemian Method:

The Bohemian method involves setting absinthe-soaked sugar cubes on fire and letting them drop into the glass. It is a dramatic presentation but is not traditional and not commonly practiced.

The “Ouzo” Method:

In some Mediterranean regions, absinthe is consumed in a manner similar to ouzo or raki. It is poured into a glass and diluted with water without the use of a sugar cube or special spoon.

VI. Contemporary Absinthe Revival

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in absinthe, driven by a renewed appreciation for craft spirits and the desire to explore unique and historical beverages. Craft distilleries around the world have embraced traditional absinthe production methods, creating a diverse range of absinthe styles and flavors.

Craft Absinthe:

Craft distillers are producing small-batch absinthes that adhere to traditional production methods. These absinthes often emphasize the quality of botanicals and meticulous distillation.

Artistic Labels:

Many contemporary absinthe brands pay homage to the artistic and bohemian heritage of absinthe through their branding and labels, featuring art and literature-inspired designs.

Absinthe Lounges:

Some bars and lounges specialize in serving absinthe and may even offer traditional absinthe rituals as part of the experience, allowing patrons to savor the spirit in a unique and historical setting.

VII. Responsible Consumption of Absinthe

Like any alcoholic beverage, absinthe should be enjoyed responsibly. Its high alcohol content requires moderation and caution. Here are some tips for responsible consumption:


When preparing absinthe, it’s essential to dilute it with water properly. The louche effect not only enhances the experience but also helps reduce the alcohol’s intensity.


Due to its high alcohol content, absinthe should be consumed in moderation. Excessive consumption can lead to intoxication and its associated risks.


In conclusion, absinthe drink is a fascinating and complex spirit with a rich history, unique production methods, and enduring mystique. Despite its controversies and myths, absinthe has found a place in the world of craft spirits, where it is celebrated for its complexity and distinctive flavor profile.



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