Each week we answer one of those burning questions you've always wanted to know the answer to, but then get too drunk and forget to ask. Gina asked:
Absinthe, what gives? Legal? Illegal? Poisonous? Just your run of the mill spirit? Can I have some? Green Fairy???
Absinthe (aka The Green Fairy) is a bit like Tinkerbell without her magic dust. Have you ever had the any anisette liqueurs? Pastis? (Ricard and Pernod are the most popular.) Then you’ve basically had absinthe. Some people may split hairs or get their black cape in a twist for me saying so, but the rumors about absinthe’s psychoactive prowess are all greatly exaggerated.
Don’t get me wrong, absinthe is fabulous. No other spirit has such a great shtick. In the proper setting with all the accoutrements, it’s a fun thing to do. But outside of being the perfect goth accessory, absinthe is just a high-octane anise-flavored liqueur with some extra added herbs.
Absinthe’s appeal comes from it having been unavailable for so long, banned because of a substance called thujone contained in the wormwood used to make it. Many herbs have more thujone than wormwood, and many poor little mice have gone to the fromagerie in the sky searching for the true evil nature of the chemical. Thujone can eff you up, but in extremely high quantities; in low doses, any conclusions are shoddy at best. Your daily facial moisturizer probably has things that can eff you up guaranteed and how, but you still use it every day.
As far as how it affected Oscar Wilde and his dreamy contemporaries, well… absinthe averages 100 proof. Any 100 proof alcohol makes you go bat shit if you drink enough of it, especially when you chase it with opiates and other sundries, which is no doubt what all the cool cats were doing back in the day.
So, in conclusion, no Gina, there is no green fairy. Absinthe is just fun, licorice-flavored bar theater. Feel free to partake (but personally, I’ll have a Chartreuse.)
Good night Gina, don’t let the fairies bite.
If you have a nagging booze question you want answered, email me