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Absinthe: The Green Fairy That Made Them All Mad

7716 words - 31 pages

The late eighteenth and nineteenth century brought new advances to the forefront of the world. One of these new creations was a substance that drove many people into raging fits. In France, legions of men and even women craved for the "green fairy" as it was called and "she" proceeded to take them places that they had never been before. Then, the mystical fairy traveled across the seas to the United States where "she" made ripples in the American culture. Eventually though, the powers of this "fairy" were found out and "she" was reduced to her true, natural form - a translucent green drink that went by the name of absinthe.Absinthe is a beverage that is fairly detailed in its making and requires correct preparation to fully enjoy. This enjoyment eventually led to abuse and many advocates were weary of the effects it had on people. The French were the first people to experience the nature of the drink, with it later filtering across the seas to America. But, regardless of the locale it was consumed in, it was a favorite of many authors and artists and produced pronounced effects upon their ways of life.A bitter drink, absinthe is a strong alcoholic beverage made from the leaves and the upper part of the herbal extract wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). Emerald green in color, the drink is traditionally diluted with cold water, which is poured over a slotted spoon containing sugar into a glass containing a shot of absinthe (Lanier 2). The drink then turns into an opaque whitish color as the essential oils precipitate out of the alcoholic solution, forming a colloidal suspension. The absinthe that was ingested in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Europe and America was composed of an alcoholic content of about seventy-two to eighty percent. According to a researcher, "drinking absinthe straight was about the same as drinking pure alcohol diluted one third with water" (Turner 103).According to Simon and Schuster's Guide to Herbs and Spices, absinthe was made with such ingredients as aniseed, hyssop, star anise, and others. These ingredients were "macerated" together with wormwood plants. After leaving the mixture to sit, water was added and the mixture was distilled. Dried herbs, including more wormwood, were added to the distillate, which was then diluted with alcohol to give a concentration of about seventy-five percent alcohol by volume (Simonetti 1990). In addition to these ingredients, manufacturers sometimes added other such ingredients to produce the drink's emerald green color. Normally, this color was due to the presence of chlorophyll from the plants. However, in the event the drink was not properly colored, absinthe makers were known to add synthetic elements such as copper sulfate and aniline green in order to produce the specified effect.The most effective way to drink absinthe involved delicate preparation. The ideal absinthe glass was sturdy and tall, shaped something like a heavy-duty beer stein. Traditionally, one to...

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