All of us have heard of the enchanting mythical drink, Absinthe – the drink considered to be hallucinogenic, the Green Fairy that may make you see fairies, the anise flavoured herbal spirit popular in Bohemian Montmartre. But, very few people can respond to the question “What is Absinthe made of?”. They could say wormwood but not most will be able to expand on that!
So, what is Absinthe made of?
Well, Absinthe was made by the legendary Dr Pierre Ordinaire in Switzerland while in the late 18th century as being an elixir for his patients. Henri-Louis Pernod started out selling Absinthe commercially at the turn of the nineteenth century and used a wine base and macerated herbs which includes common wormwood (artemisia absinthium), fennel, green aniseed, hyssop, angelica root, lemon balm, dittany, star anise, nutmeg, veronica and also juniper to taste and shade the alcohol.
Other herbs used in Absinthe production include: calamus root, mint, cloves, sweet flag, licorice, caraway seeds, coriander seeds and roman wormwood (artemisia pontica) also known as petite wormwood. Claude-Alain Bugnon, the renowned bootlegger who now distills Absinthe in Switzerland, also flavors his La Clandestine Absinthe with local Alpine herbs which provide his Absinthe a taste of honey plus a bouquet of Alpine meadows.
It’s the essential oils of the herbs in Absinthe which result in the Absinthe to louche when water is put in. The oils are soluble in alcohol yet not in water and so precipitate when the water is added in making the drink turn cloudy or milky. In case your Absinthe does not louche then it is probably not a real Absinthe or a quality Absinthe loaded with essential oils.
AbsintheKit.com, who produce distilled Absinthe essences for individuals to create real Absinthe at home, use classic Absinthe herbs to flavor their essences. This indicates that Absinthe produced from their essences will taste beautifully as well as louche beautifully.
Some Czech Absinth does not contain anise or aniseed and it’s really simply a kind of wormwood bitters. Make sure that you acquire real anise and wormwood Absinthe to see the actual classic flavor.
The common wormwood plant is easily the most popular Absinthe ingredient, the ingredient which gives Absinthe its marginally bitter taste as well as the ingredient which caused Absinthe to be restricted in many countries in early 1900s. Formerly used for thousands of years as a medicine, it became called a psychoactive neurotoxin which trigger psychedelic effects like hallucinations, convulsion and also spasms. Wormwood oil has a substance called thujon or thujone which has been compared to THC in cannabis. Absinthe was shown to contain quantities of thujone and to be responsible for driving people to insanity and also to death.
However, recent studies and tests have established that vintage Absinthe actually only covered small quantities of thujone, nowhere near enough to become at all damaging. EU and US laws only permit Absinthe with small quantities of thujone to be bought and sold so Absinthe is flawlessly safe to use and enjoy.
Absinthe is a spirit or liquor not a liqueur as it doesn’t have added sugar. It is a high proof alcoholic beverage but is usually served diluted with iced water and sugar. Though it remains safe and secure to consume, you need to know that it is an incredibly strong spirit and will quickly get you drunk specifically if you blend it with other spirits in cocktails!
So, the answer to the question “What is Absinthe made of?” is handily answered – alcohol as well as a mixture of herbs.