Absinthe… “The Green Fairy,” as it is affectionately known, is a spirit with an often misunderstood past and one, that only until recently is legal again in the US. The spirit was invented in 1789 by Dr. Pierre Ordinaire in Val-de-Travers on the French border of Switzerland. Originally intended as a pain reliever for recovering medical patients, Absinthe became a spirit of mythic proportion during the Belle Époch in Paris, France.

Absinthe derives its name from the principal ingredient from which is it made, wormwood or in the Latin: Artemisia absinthium and it is this very ingredient that caused its undoing in 1912. Believed to be a dangerous narcotic because of the chemical compound thujone, Absinthe was banned in most of Europe and the US by 1912. After decades of tireless research into the actual danger of thujone and the relatively minor amounts found in Absinthe, the spirit was released from bondage in 2007!

So, where did the stories of hallucinations and madness come from? Well, at 136 proof, the spirit has a definite kick and when enjoyed as an Absinthe Drip (plain with just a small amount of ice cold water dripped over a sugar cube), the effects can be seemingly hallucinogenic.

Another interesting fact… the German word for wormwood is vermut, or as we say Vermouth. That’s right; Vermouth also actually contains wormwood as one of its many ingredients too…

On a brilliantly sunny day like today, I can’t possibly stay inside a dark, smoke filled Caberet and sip an Absinthe Drip, so it’s one of the many Absinthe cocktails… how about the Monkey Gland – a pre-prohibition libation made famous at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris!

The Monkey Gland

1-1/2 oz. London Dry Gin

1-1/2 oz. Orange Juice

1 spoon Grenadine

6 drops Absinthe

Maraschino Cherry

Orange Zest Twist

Mix the ingredients (except the cherry and twist) in a shaker with crushed ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, add the cherry and twist the Orange Zest over the glass.

(Originally posted on Facebook: July 4, 2011)