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Sunday, January 31, 2010


If you like Good n Plenty;s you will love this stuff.

Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), the plant from which absinthe is produced, has been mentioned in all sorts of texts and literature throughout history from as far back as the Bible. (Supposedly, after the serpent was expelled from the Garden of Eden, wormwood grew in his trail out.)

Wormwood and wormwood soaked in wine has been used all through ancient times as a 'cure' for everything from labor pains to rheumatism to bad breath. In the middle ages, it was even used to prevent flatulence in dogs and a deterrent to the plague.

Modern absinthe was rediscovered publicly by a French doctor named Pierre Ordinaire in 1792. Dr. Ordinaire was a Frenchman living in Switzerland. During his trips in the Swiss Val-de-Travers mountain regions, he 'discovered' the wormwood plant and developed a drinkable recipe. The drink was once again promoted as a cure-all and immediately earned the nickname La Fee Verte.

Absinthe has its commercial origins in 1797. For some time before, Mere Meriod had been privately creating her own version of absinthe. An entrepreneur named Major Henri Dubied bought the rights to her recipe and began marketing the bottled product in the Val-de-Travers and surrounding area. Major Dubied's daughter married a man named Henri-Louis Pernod. Mr. Pernod and the Dubied family then created a partnership company to produce, market and sell absinthe based on their own variation of the Henriod/Dubied/Pernod recipe. Thus begins the origins of the first product made by the famous Pernod label in Switzerland and France.

Originally, Pernod's product was given to French soldiers in Algeria as a preventative medicine against fever. However, these soldiers continued to drink and popularize absinthe when they returned to France.

By the mid to late 1800's, the reputation of absinthe was at its peak. The most famousand popular artists and writers of the day were well known to have received their inspirations while drinking absinthe. Van Gogh, Toulouse, Lautrec, Verlaine, Oscar Wilde, Picasso, and Beaudelaire increased the popularity of the drink through the works they created. As a result of these artists' international success, absinthe grew internationally popular as well.

Unfortunately, absinthe's quick downfall started in 1905. A farmer in French speaking Switzerland, Jean Lanfrey, went on an all day drinking binge of absinthe, brandy and wine. Later in the evening, a growing and prolonged argument with his wife turned intensely tragic. Mr. Lanfrey, in his all day drunkenness, eventually shot his wife with their unborn baby, their four-year old daughter and their two-year old child sleeping in the crib. Mr. Lanfrey tried to shoot himself but failed.

Everyone who knew Mr. Lanfrey said that this violent rampage simply did not fit Mr. Lanfrey's personality. As a result, his actions were blamed not on his occasional violent outbursts he was known for, nor for the mixture of drinking all day with wine, brandy and absinthe. Propaganda focused solely on the fact that he drank two large glasses of absinthe.

Immediately, European communities began attributing absinthe as "the cause of bloodthristy crime." The anti-absinthe campaign was now in full force and in 1908 it was banned completely in Switzerland. By 1923, absinthe became an illegal alcohol in most countries including America, Germany, and France.