Have you ever read Poe's, Maupassant's or Hemingway's works, examined Van Gogh's, Picasso's, Toulouse-Lautrec's or Manet's paintings, or even studied Baudelaire's, Rimbaud's or Wilde's pieces of art? Chances are you have, which means that you have also tasted the effects of la fée verte, the green fairy, i.e. absinthe. Absinthe is a mystical spirit in nearly every aspect, and it has been a muse for many artists in the second half of the 19th century and in the early 20th century. Absinthe is known for producing extreme creativity and hallucinations, the reason why many artists were fond of the beverage. It can be best described as a kind of heightened clarity of mind and vision warmed by the effect of alcohol. Doesn't inspector Frederick Abberline, aka Johnny Depp in the movie From Hell, use absinthe as a visionary fluid to have a better understanding of the case he is covering?
[...] And so, one by one, many western European countries banned absinthe as a scapegoat, as the epitome of all the harms created by alcohols in general. First Congo Free State in 1898, came next Switzerland in 1907, the Netherlands in 1909, the USA in 1912, France in 1915, etc. After the ban, absinthe continued to live underground, through products like the “clandestine” (bootleg) absinthe in Switzerland, or in some distilleries in Spain, but the scale of production faded every year. [...]
[...] Actually it is in the US illegal to produce, sell or buy absinthe but technically it is not illegal to possess or consume it. The revival The modern absinthe revival began in 1987 with the collapse of the Iron curtain and the Czechoslovakia's “velvet revolution”. And also in 1988 when countries in the EU began to reconsider and harmonize the legal rate of thujone in food and drinks, and de facto reauthorized the manufacture and sale of absinthe. A Czech entrepreneur, Radomil Hill, having inherited from his father a small distillery dating from the 1920's, decided, with the return of a free market economy, to start producing absinth. [...]
[...] Jacob Verte considers that this highly marketed and funny way to drink and sell absinth be, for many new absintheurs, kind of an introduction to higher quality products, it makes them aware of the genuine universe.» Sales of the blue-green Hill's absinth took off in the early 90s, especially in the UK, where an innovative publicity campaign soon made absinthe a must-have drink in trendy nightclubs and bars. The commercial success of Hill and its followers (largely helped by Hollywood which immediately used that new original, impressive and entertaining way to prepare the beverage and consequently spread it in a larger scale) had though an unexpected positive side-effect: the tentative rebirth of the genuine French and Swiss absinthe industry. [...]
[...] Thujone increasingly led absinthe to its gloomy fate. The ban and the underground century of absinthe What is more likely to have caused harm to regular absinthe drinkers is the adulterants used in the cheaper varieties. Absinthe existed in a quality pyramid much as wine does today: for each quality brand there were many more indifferent and positively harmful versions being sold cheaply to those who could no afford to buy a reputable brand. These undistilled absinthes contained high levels of thujone, the controversial active ingredient. [...]
[...] Almost all the different persons involved in the absinthe community today consider that absinthe is definitely making a come-back but as Benoît Noël puts it: virtual come-back in a virtual world”. Absinthe is quite commonly thought to be a niche market for the years to come, but a noble and meaningful niche market. And for all the genuine absintheurs, this is a good thing since such a mythical alcohol, with such a history, has to be deserved and should not be found in the hands of just anyone. [...]
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