National Absinthe Day

We learned from Alison Cook's Fork and Cork blog that today is National Absinthe Day. Yes, there's a holiday for everything now. Today marks the third anniversary of absinthe's legal reentry into the US market.

The history of absinthe includes stories of intrigue, scandal and even murder. In 1912, the US banned absinthe, claiming its hallucinogenic properties caused people to go mad. Some even say it drove Van Gogh to cut off his ear. But, as with most banned substances, outlawing absinthe made people want it more.

Then, on March 5, 2007, the public prevailed. Lucid became the first Grande Wormwood absinthe to receive approval for legal importation into the US. There would be no more need to smuggle absinthe contraband. After 95 years, devotees could purchase it out in the open.

However, some claim that the modern-day absinthe is not the same as the pre-ban version. According to the Wormwood Society, authentic absinthe must be made with Artemisia absinthium wormwood. While many modern absinthes contain this grand wormwood, they do not contain the high levels of thujone some believe was present in pre-ban absinthe. Some attributed the psychedelic effects of the spirit to thujone, found in Artemisia absinthium.

When the US removed the absinthe ban in 2007, the Food and Drug Administration regulated it by requiring it to be thujone-free, meaning less than 10 parts per million. Many people still believe this regulation prevents today's absinthe from displaying the properties of the absinthe of old.

But that theory was called into question back in 2005, when New Orleans native Ted Breaux, founder and president of Jade Liqueurs, told Wired magazine that through his extensive research of antique absinthes, he found that pre-ban absinthes did not contain high concentrations of thujone. The Jade Liqueurs website explains Breaux's findings and guarantees that the company's absinthes are identical to the original version in all respects.

We'll start the weekend off right with a toast to the return of the Green Fairy.

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Jane Catherine Collins