Sunday, January 06, 2008
The return of Le Fee Verte
Hi there. I was reading, I read quite a bit you know, and I chanced upon a piece of information that said "Wormwood" the principal ingredient in the spirit Absinthe was "The most highly addictive substance there is, bar none." Well, OK. I was pretty certain that Absinthe was highly illegal to obtain and drinking it was akin to drinking wood alcohol or some other poison. Then I happened to Google the word and much to my surprise, I found that you could order yourself a bottle of "the Green Fairy" for around $200. Further research lent the information that "Wormwood" a nonpoisonous plant, contained a substance with a chemical makeup similar to THC and the amount of this "thujone" in micrograms per millilitre has a lot to do with the classification of some spirits. At any rate, it would seem that drinking absinthe was a popular pastime among the artistic and literati communities at various times during the 19th and 20th centuries. Absinthe itself is a high proof liquor which has a licorice and bitter taste, however; when the drink is allowed to louche, a ritual wherein the green liquor is poured into a special glass where it goes into a "well", then a slotted spoon is placed over the rim and a cube of sugar is laid atop that. Then ice cold water is allowed to fall drop by drop onto the cube and into the glass. This causes the shocking green liquid to opalace or "louche" into a milky swirl and that is what you drink. Now the point of this is supposed to bring out the other flavors and activate the various chemicals to where the drinker becomes taken by the influence of "The Green Fairy" a feeling described as both "high and not" or, in other words "normal to a greater extreme." Sounds a bit like one of those drugs where you mix speed with heroin. Seems like it would counter produce, although heroin having the longer half life usually hangs in there and kills people who take that combination in serious dosage. So by and large this absinthe thing sounds sort of half alcoholic unreason and have placebo reaction. What ever the case enough people were getting their kicks from it to cause its banishment in the US in 1917 as well as other parts of Europe through the years. Switzerland was big on the ban because a man called Lanfray killed his family in a drunken rage after having taken two drinks of the stuff. (the fact that this was followed by a day of serious drinking of other sorts before doing the deed was not considered)
Mr. E. Hemingway of Oak Park, Illinois was fond of absinthe and reported that he penned his novel "For Whom The Bell Tolls" under the influence of "The Green Fairy" Mr. Hemingway was asked to contribute to a book of celebrity cocktail recipes , he sent this one. The Death in the afternoon cocktail: "Pour one jigger absinthe into champagne glass. Add chilled champagne until proper color is reached. Drink 3-5 of these slowly."
Well now. It would seem that this highly addictive psychoactive drink is gaining ground speed and setting itself up for some smarmy media presenter to have an investigative field day. In fact, some guy who disappeared from a cruise ship recently had drunk some absinthe with a lot of other people who didn't disappear. That bit of trace logic has not seemed to fall in to the news hopper yet. So hows about it folks? Enough dammed lies for you? You know it's funny, I'm an absinthe expert and yesterday all I knew was it tasted like licorice and was what Pernod used to be and a few loose bar facts. I was also quite ready to believe that it was terribly dangerous. Now? Well a little balanced research and I'm pretty sure it is a fad. Probably not a harmless one because it is supposed to make you better at thinking. Plus it has to do with drinking and drinking is bad for you if not done in moderation and for medicinal purposes. On the other hand the whole ritual of preparation and the purported outcome is only going to apply to a certain sort of person, so not only do I see it as a fad but a limited one at that. I mean how many folks do you know are going to go to a bar and ask if they have the Green Fairy? Don't give me no St. Patrick's Day Gay bar crap either. Me ? I don't do bars anymore.
Perhaps someone could do one for me and let me know if it makes you smarter. As you may have noticed, my mind can be changed and should a few IQ points be up for grabs, well I guess I could could believe in fairies.