Thursday, 5 May 2011

Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder

France lifts its 96 year ban on absinthe.  Long famed and condemned for its alleged mind-altering qualities, the anise-flavoured spirit is once again allowed for sale in the Republic.

I had chance to try a bottle of the "green fairy" that a friend had smuggled in from Czechoslovakia in the '80s and my verdict is that while it compares favourably with Pernod, it lacks in mind-altering ability when stacked against a few pints of Stingo and IPA.


Ironmistress said...

Absinthe used to be really dangerous stuff 96 years ago.

It isn't the anise or anisol, but other stuffs which gave absinthe the bad bame. The wormwood extract it contained did contain certain alkaloids, which did damage the brain in even small doses.

[As if the ethanol wasn't the most potent poison in that stuff anyway.]

We in Finland have had Pere Kerman's Absinthe (60% APV) since late 1980s sold at Alko. Once those alkaloids had been eliminated, the stuff was declared safe. Yet it still contains ethanol...

Pint of India Pale Ale? Hmm... a pint of Pere Kerman's ?

Ironmistress said...

Did some googling, and the dangerous stuff is thujone. It isn't an alkaloid, but a terpene. It can damage brain in large doses or long-term use. It may also cause similar hallucinations as tetrahydrocannabinol.

The proper preparation of the herbs on manufacturing the absinthe has been found critical. The cheapest absinthe brands ignored the preparatory phase and just did herb-ethanol extraction, and a lot of poisonous stuff, not only thujone, was extracted in the absinthe. Not to speak of gross adulteration of the drink, such as adding copper nitrate to make the green colour more greener...

Czech absinthe isn't, if the Wikipedia is to believed, the same stuff as original absinthe, but a completely different stuff.

Id said...

Damn, why can't they do more adverts like that, nowadays. They hint and make euphemisms, but I don't think even Herbal Essences went so far as to include explicit depictions of ladybits.