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History of Absinthe:
Modern day Absinthe is derived from Wormwood (Artemisia Absinthium) along with other herbs and was originally curated by French Dr. Pierre Ordinaire during the French Revolution (1789-1799). However, the medicinal uses of the herb Wormwood can be traced back to Ancient Egypt Ebers Papyrus - circa 1550 BC.
By using distillation, Ordinaire was determined to create a more consumable elixir of the bitter herb. His final recipe came about in 1792 and was a mixture of wormwood bark, star-anise, liqourice, fennel, hyssop, camomile, parsley, coriander and spinach. This drink was named Extrait D'Absinthe - Latin for wormwood. The drink was used as a healing remedy for French soldiers suffering from malaria and fevers and quickly became one of the most obtainable and cherished drinks of the 19th century.
Absinthe has carried its unique romantic aesthetic throughout the hearts of Parisian intellects and artists such as Vincent Van Gough, Oscar Wilde, Charles Cros, Charles Baudelaire, Edgar Allen Poe, and Pablo Picasso. However, despite being known as the artists' drink, it became equally as popular to the common people.
During this time the wine and brandy industries were doing poorly due to plagued vineyards, leading absinthe to be a more obtainable alternative. Sold in cafe's on every corner, thus began the beginning of "l'heure verte" translated to "the green hour" and as we call it today, happy hour. People would gather in local cafe's around the hours of 5 - 6 o'clock to sip absinthe and socialize.
Unfortunately absinthe had become banned in 1915 and was believed to be the reason behind unexplainable seizures, hallucinations and violent, murderous behavior. Fret not! The ban was lifted in 2007 after chalking up earlier stated behaviors to simple intoxication.
The original ritual for consuming Absinthe called "La Louche" involves diluting the liquor to change from an emerald green color to a servable milky green by pouring water slowly over a sugar cube that sits on top of a perforated spoon, over your cup of absinthe. This was commonly practiced in cafes and bars throughout the 19th century by using Absinthe Fountains. Which are still able to be purchased today. A great company that makes and sells these fountains is called Absinthe on the net.
How to make La Louche:
- Purchase a quality Absinthe. Genuine absinthe meaning high alcohol content (120-150 proof) and contains Artemisia Absinthium.
- Using a pontarlier glass is the classic way of serving but you can really make this drink with a Dixie cup if you wanted. Just pour a 3 to 1 ratio of water to Absinthe. About two fingers height of absinthe.
- Classic way: Absinthe spoon - Modern way - Fork
- Place spoon or fork on top of your glass of absinthe. Place one sugar cube on top of your utensil.
- With a decanter, absinthe fountain, or eye dropper very slowly pour ice water over the sugar cube until disintegrated into the absinthe and the emerald green creates an opalescent hue. You can dilute with as much water as you prefer.
- Your La Louche is ready for consumption!
On a personal note I would like to add that this drink is NOT for chugging.
As always have fun & enjoy 🍸