The History and Resurfacing of Absinthe

As the landscape continues to shift and change within the rapidly expanding nightlife scene, new products are continually introduced while older products are back on the rise. The nightlife industry continues to become more transparent and consumers are wanting more from their experience. With the increasing popularity within the world of mixology and uniquely crafted cocktails, this again proves that the public’s palette is expanding and the industry also needs to expand to fill the demand.


Back on the market but still in it’s infancy, absinthe is again growing in popularity. After being banned for almost 100 years, this mythical European wormwood-infused liquor is becoming a trend amongst the more discerning drinkers since that ban has been lifted less than a decade ago. A lot are still skeptical about the resurfaced drink claiming any absinthe found within the United States is not a true absinthe. Before you can truly form an opinion about absinthe’s within the United States, take a trip back in time to the origins of absinthe.

The History of Absinthe:

The Beginnings with Dr. Ordinaire:


The credit goes to a French doctor named Pierre Ordinaire even though origins of the liquor date back all the way to the Egyptian Empire. During the French Revolution, Dr. Ordinaire retreated to a town in Switzerland called Couvet. It was while in Couvet that Dr. Ordinaire crafted the infamous liquor using mixed herbs with wormwood producing this emerald green elixir rumored to cure many diseases.

On his deathbed, it is rumored that Dr. Ordinaire passed down his recipe and it was five years after that when Henri-Louis Pernod opened his first absinthe distillery in Switzerland. With the growing popularity of absinthe, Pernod then opened a larger distillery in Pontarlier, France where absinthe later gained it’s international reputation as the drink of choice for artists, writers and intellectuals.



The rumors of the magic green potion carried over into France and French soldiers were given absinthe on the field to treat malaria. With the many soldiers being exposed to absinthe and the massive wine shortage that happened in France during the latter half of the 19th century, absinthe sales began to grow becoming France’s most fashionable drink. 5 p.m. became known as l’heure verte throughout French cafes. L’heure verte better translates to Green Time or as The Green Hour signaling the start of the flow of absinthe throughout France. Essentially Happy Hour for France. By 1910, absinthe became the drink of choice in France and was consumed at far greater rates than wine or any other liquor.

Europe and United States:


La Fee Verte was a popular French nickname for absinthe meaning “the green lady.” Absinthe’s presence started to become well known throughout Europe as word spread about the green lady. Spain was an early adopter and is also the only nation to have never banned the beverage. In the United States, New Orleans is home to The Old Absinthe House, one of New Orleans’ most prominent historical landmarks. Originally known as the Absinthe Room, it opened in the 1870’s by a Spanish bartender named Cayetano Ferrer. Ferrer loved the beverage so much that when he immigrated to America, he brought absinthe with him. By 1878, 8 million liters of the green spirit had been imported into the United States of America.

The Absinthe Ban


Everything was looking great for the drink until rumors spread of the negative effects of absinthe. People literally began to believe that absinthe made you crazy and likely to commit criminal acts, provoked epilepsy and tuberculosis, and that it was linked to thousands of deaths. It makes a ferocious beast of man, a martyr of woman, and a degenerate of the infant, it disorganizes and ruins the family and menaces the future of the country. In 1905, it was reported that Jean Lanfray, a Swiss farmer, murdered his family and attempted to take his own life after drinking absinthe. Reports of course did not focus on the fact that Lanfray was a known alcoholic who consumed much more than just absinthe that day.

Despite absinthe’s vogue status, the reputation quickly changed among the masses to disgust. The early 1900’s is when the ban of absinthe all over started, the United States followed the ban in 1912. In 1915, the epicenter of the absinthe world, France formally banned the sale and production as well.

Distillers tried to find multiple loopholes to continue the production of absinthe and some did. Little tricks like labeling the product a wormwood based liquor as opposed to absinthe was one way of getting around the ban. In the early turn of the 2000s, most bans of absinthe were repealed making absinthe again legal.

Have you tried any Absinthe for sale in the United States? Let us know what you think and comment below!



  1. Evan CamomileEE said:

    I’ve reviewed a fair amount of absinthe from both America and Europe including some pre-ban. You can see my reviews here: http://wormwoodsociety.org/index.php/component/jreviews/my-reviews/user:1861/

    After tasting some of the best each continent has to offer I have to say that most of my favorites are not only legal in the U.S. but also made in the U.S. and they can be very wormwood forward.

    Don’t let the myths steer you wrong. U.S. absinthe is just as real and just as good as it can be elsewhere. Often it’s not the country of origin that matters, but the distiller.

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