Absinthism: fictitious 19th century syndrome

Modern absinthe

Most absinthe brands available today contain mainly the same herbal ingredients and extracts as pre-ban absinthe. Absinthe produced within the European Union is limited in its thujone content to 35 mg/l (maximum limit for bitter spirits) [ 8 ].

Top grade absinthe products are still manufactured according to traditional recipes, without the addition of dye or other additives. Some products are made of herbal distillates and are differentiated by a mild flavor. Because such products are colorless, they are sold as Blanche or La Bleue. Types with a lower alcoholic strength and added sugar are sold as absinthe-liqueurs. Independent of traditional recipes, many products sold nowadays are made with readily bought finished extracts of wormwood or other plants, which are blended with ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin. For the coloring artificial dye is used, especially mixtures of tartrazin (E102, FD&C Yellow No. 5) and patent blue V (E131) or brilliant blue FCF (E133). Inferior products contain no herbal extracts and are made solely by the blending of artificial flavors, coloring and ethyl alcohol [17].

In cases like this, sometimes even the macerated herbs are not distilled but only filtrated, diluted to drinking strength and bottled. These products have a strong pronounced taste of wormwood and a very strong, bitter taste. Further falsification is possible with the addition of extracts of other thujone-containing plants (e.g., Thuja occidentalis L., Salvia officinalis L.).

A Classic Cocktail

Savoy Hotel Special Cocktail* (No. 1)

1 dash absinthe
2 dashes grenadine
1/3 French vermouth
2/3 dry gin

Shake with ice. Strain into cocktail glass. Twist lemon peel on top.

* Peter ninth Earl of Savoy, brought to England, as his wards, eighty-three of the most wealthy and beautiful girls in France. He then married them to the most powerful nobles in England. That is why he wore armour.

Savoy Cocktail Book, 1930

Wormwood Society Gear

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Absinthe Tasting Journal

front cover th
The WS Absinthe Tasting Journal

With room for over 200 tastings, provides novices and experts with a primer in absinthe history and facts, as well as instructions on how to conduct scorings and blind tastings.

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