Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Allan Poe, and Henri de Tolouse-Lautrec are just some of the many well-known artists and writers in history known for gaining inspiration through absinthe consumption. Absinthe is a distilled spirit from Europe that allegedly causes hallucinogenic effects (yeah right). Believed to be first invented sometime in the 18th century in central Europe, it was banned from many countries in the world during the early 20th century because people believed it was a dangerously addicting hallucinogenic drug (which modern science has disproved).
One of the key ingredients of Absinthe is wormwood. Wormwood contains a natural chemical called thujone, which is what supposedly causes the hallucinogenic effects. When one is consuming absinthe, they say that person is romancing the green fairy in France. The truth about wormwood is that although thujone does contain psychoactive properties that can cause one to hallucinate, the amount contained in absinthe isn’t enough to do much more than raise the heart rate, and may possibly cause someone to feel a little strange. Aside from that, all other side effects are caused from the high alcohol content.
Perhaps one of the most glamorous parts of absinthe consumption is the preparation of drinks. Pouring a drink requires a special glass and a special slotted spoon. There are thousands of different styles of absinthe spoons out there, and even more people out there collecting them. The spoon is placed over the lip of a glass with a sugar cube placed in the center. The absinthe is drizzled over the sugar cube to help remedy the extreme bitterness of absinthe. The main flavor of absinthe can be compared to that of licorice. The two key flavorings in it are anise and fennel, which gives it that licorice taste.
A few years ago, absinthe was finally legalized in the US, so I wanted to see what all the hype was about. Although I had no interest whatsoever in achieving its supposed effects, I knew it was a load of crap and thought I would humor everyone by proving them wrong. I tried it three different times from three different distilleries. I already knew ahead of time the whole hallucinogenic rumor was a pile of crap. My first attempt was a brand called Absente, which was actually legal before the ban was lifted due to its very low wormwood content. It tasted decent, but I felt no different than if I was drinking ouzo, a similar tasting drink. I felt slightly relaxed, but that’s about it.
The second time was with a brand called Lucid, which did not become legal until after the ban was lifted in the US due to its higher wormwood content. It has been classified as having the highest legal amount of wormwood content by US law. Again, same effect… nothing out of the ordinary. The third time I decided to go for the unregulated, real deal – straight from the Czech Republic. I ordered it online for a couple hundred bucks, have no idea what the label said or what the brand was, but I was told by an absinthe connoisseur that it was the real thing and that I will definitely feel something from it. Once again, nothing different. And it was a huge waste of money. Maybe if one believes they will feel some kind of hallucinogenic effect, they may trick their brain to believe they are feeling something out of the ordinary. But in my experience, it is just a waste of money. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that many countries are now legalizing it once again. It has a cool history, interesting cultural significance, and doesn’t taste bad, but as far as any unusual effects, you will only achieve what your mind tells you to. Your body may feel a little strange from it, but that’s about it.
Absinthe Drink Recipe:
- Ice 2 parts
- absinthe 2 parts
- 1 sugar cube
Fill an absinthe glass with ice. Place an absinthe spoon over the lip of the glass, and place a sugar cube in the center. Pour the absinthe over the sugar cube. Pour the water over the sugar cube until it dissolves. Using the spoon, stir around the drink and serve.