Absinthe, also known as absinth, absynthe, or absenta is a highly alcoholic drink distilled from herbs including the flowers and leaves of the medicinal plant Artemisia absinthium.
Absinthe is usually green. It is often called la Fée Verte or The Green Fairy. Another name for absinthe is The Green Devil. The main herbs used to produce absinthe are green anise, sweet fennel and wormwood, often called the 'holy trinity'. Chlorophyll from these herbs give it its famous green colour. Absinthe traditionally has a natural green colour but may also be colourless. Sometimes absinthe can be coloured red, called a rouge or rose. This is made by using a red flower or herb. It is possible to create a 'naturally coloured' absinthe of any colour by using the correct plant material.
Absinthe was very popular in late 19th and early 20th century France. Parisian artists and writers were supposed to drink it. Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Vincent van Gogh were all known absinthe drinkers. The romantic associations with the drink still linger in popular culture. Due to its bitter taste, the absinthe drinking ritual involved placing a sugar cube on a flat perforated spoon. In the 19th century, hotel owners often put unhealthy elements into absinthe, such as sulfur to change its colour. Absinthe was seen as a dangerous drink with mind altering effects.
Absinthe was often linked with violent crimes supposedly committed under its influence. Combined with hard liquor use and the low price, absinthe became a social problem in France. In 1915 absinthe was banned in France.
In the 1990s Hill's Liquere, a Czech Republic distillery founded in 1920, began manufacturing Hill's Absinth. This was a Bohemian-style absinthe, which started a modern rebirth in absinthe's popularity.