Absinthe – Elixir of Inspiration
The 1890s were the decade of absinthe, its high point, short take-off before oblivion for a hundred years, during which it was banned. But at the beginning of the XXI century, quite unexpectedly, it again appeared in the shops.
Absinthe is a strong alcoholic beverage, which includes anise, fennel, mint, lemon balm, angelica and other herbs, but the most important component is wormwood, which contains a large amount of thujone. This substance enhances the harmful effect of absinthe on the brain. This drink can be yellow, brown and even red, but more often it is emerald green.
Dr. Pierre Ordinaire, a French monarchist who fled from the revolution to Switzerland and settled in a small village, in 1792 came up with a universal remedy for all diseases and called it “absinthe”, as wormwood in French is absinthe. In 1798 the first plant for the manufacture of wormwood elixir appeared, and a few years later the entrepreneur Henri Pernod produced absinthe in Switzerland and France. The product began to be sold all over the world.
At the beginning of the XIX century, absinthe began to be called a “green fairy” – not only because of the color, but also because of the miracles that it did with people. The popularity of absinthe increased sharply during the French wars in North Africa. The soldiers were given a little bit of absinthe for the prevention of malaria, dysentery and other diseases. The bourgeoisie drank absinthe on the Paris boulevards, and in the 1880s the custom of drinking an emerald elixir spread everywhere. Time between five and seven p.m. was called a “green hour”.
Wormwood, infused with alcohol, drove France crazy, and then all of Europe. In America, New Orleans, it appeared in the middle of the XIX century under the names Green Opal and Milky Way.
For fans of absinthe there were special cafes and clubs. But soon people became addicted. Their fantasies grew into hallucinations, cheerful rampage – into depression, gloomy and heavy madness. Absinthe killed slowly. More and more people had inadequate behavior and temporary insanity. Some even committed suicide. The drink was considered a kind of trip to a madhouse, people called it the green curse of France. In 1907, absinthe was banned in Switzerland, in 1909 – in the Netherlands, in 1912 – in the US, in 1915 – in France, and then in Italy. By the way, absinth was never banned in England, because there it always remained a drink of intellectuals (minority), not becoming popular, as in France. Refusal of absinthe was considered by many as a symptom of cultural decline. For a long time it remained to live only in literature and on the canvases of French artists.
“There is nothing more poetic in the world than a glass of absinthe. I equate the pleasure of absinthe with the pleasure of contemplating the sunset,” – wrote the famous English philosopher, esthete, writer, poet Oscar Wilde. “If you drink enough of this drink, you’ll see everything you want – beautiful, amazing things.”