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The Wormwood Society

Absinthe: The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of the Green Fairy



The story of the Green Fairy—from her beginning as a country doctor’s tonic in Switzerland, through her rise to fame and fall to perdition, to her eventual resurrection—has always been one filled with mystery, glamour and intrigue.  She has been idolized, imitated, counterfeited and slandered.  Mistress to millions of unnamed factory workers, farmers, gentry and vagrants as well as to poets, musicians and painters; she has been an angel to those who treated her well and gently, and a demonic fury to those who did not.  It’s a new fin de siècle, a new world, and there is a new green glow on the horizon that tells us: the Green Fairy has returned.

Epilogue, Part 2, July 2007

Since the writing of this article, several imortant changes have come about, most important being the discovery of the “margin of error” of thujone testing required by the federal laboratories.  This brought the knowledge that several Eurpoean absinthes would easily meet US regulations and subsequently the introduction of authentic European absinthe into the US market commenced after a 95 year hiatus.


Gwydion Stone
October 2005
Originally printed in Mixologist: The Journal of the American Cocktail, Vol. 2, 2006



Partial Bibliography

a-Thujone: g-Aminobutyric acid type A receptor modulation and metabolic detoxification – Karin M. Höld, Nilantha S. Sirisoma, Tomoko Ikeda, Toshio Narahashi†, and John E. Casida – PNAS, April 11, 2000, vol. 97, no. 8

Absinthe – The Lancet, Volume 91, Issue 2332, 8 May, 1868

Absinthe and Alcohol – The Lancet, Volume 93, Issue 2375, March 6th, 1869, Pages 317-354

Absinthe, A Myth Always Green, – Noël, Verte, Artemis – l’Esprit frappeur, 2003

Absinthe, A Review – Dirk W Lachenmeier and Stephan G. Walch – Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 46:365–377 (2006)

Absinthe: Attention Performance and Mood under the Influence of Thujone – A. Dettling, M.D., H. Grass, M.D., A. Schuff, M.D., G. Skopp, PH.D., P. Strohbeck-Kuener, PH.D.,† AND H.-TH. Haffner, M.D. – Journal of Studies On Alcohol, September 2004

Absinthe: The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of the Green Fairy – Gwydion Stone – Mixologist: The Journal of the American Cocktail, Vol. 2, 2006

Absinthism: a fictitious 19th century syndrome with present impact – Stephan A Padosch, Dirk W. Lachenmeier and Lars U Kröner – Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 2006, 1:14

Behaviour of thujone during distillation and possible concentration ranges in pre-ban absinthe – Dirk W. Lachenmeier and Thomas Kuballa – Journal of Science, Food, and  Agriculture, 0022-5142/2007

Chemical Composition of Vintage Preban Absinthe with Special Reference to Thujone, Fenchone, Pinocamphone, Methanol, Copper, and Antimony Concentrations – Dirk W. Lachenmeier, David Nathan-Maister, Theodore A. Breaux, Eva-Maria Sohnius, Kerstin Schoeberl, and Thomas Kuballa

Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Volume 3.  – 21 CFR 172.510

Determination of α-/β-Thujone and Related Terpenes in Absinthe using Solid Phase Extraction and Gas Chromatography – Joachim Emmert, Günter Sartor, Frank Sporer and Joachim Gummersbach, Deutsche Lebensmittel-Rundschau ı 100. Jahrgang, Heft 9, 2004

Industry Circular Number: 2007-5, October 16, 2007 – Department of the Treasury, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

Long-Term Stability of Thujone, Fenchone, and Pinocamphone in Vintage Preban Absinthe – Dirk W. Lachenmeier, David Nathan-Maister, Theodore A. Breaux, and Thomas Kuballa – Journal of Agricultural and  Food Chemistry, 2009

Microbial Degradation of Monoterpenes in the Absence of Molecular Oxygen – Jens Harder and Christina Probian – 1995, American Society for Microbiology.

On the Comparative Action of Alcohol and Absinthe, Valantin Magnan, The Lancet, Volume 104, Issue 2664, Pages 410-412 (September 19th 1874)

Oxygénée’s Virtual Absinthe Museum, David Nathan-Maister, 2005,

Pernod, 200 Years – Marie-Claude Delahaye, (Musée de l’Absinthe, Auvers-sur-Oise)

Systematic Misinformation about Thujone in Pre-ban Absinthe – Dirk W. Lachenmeier and David Nathan-Maister – Deutsche Lebensmittel-Rundschau ı 103. Jahrgang, Heft 6, 2007

The Book of Absinthe, A Cultural History, Phil Baker (Grove Press, 2001)

The Illness of Vincent van Gogh – Dietrich Blumer, M.D., Am J Psychiatry 159:4, April 2002

Thujone Exhibits Low Affinity for Cannabinoid Receptors But Fails to Evoke Cannabimimetic Responses – Meschler, Justin P., Howlett, Allyn C.,  – Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, Volume 62, Issue 3, March 1999, Pages 473-480

Thujone—Cause of absinthism? – Lachenmeier, Emmert, Kuballa, Sartor – Forensic Science International, 17 May 2005