AskDefine | Define absinthe

Dictionary Definition



1 aromatic herb of temperate Eurasia and North Africa having a bitter taste used in making the liqueur absinthe [syn: common wormwood, old man, lad's love, Artemisia absinthium]
2 strong green liqueur flavored with wormwood and anise [syn: absinth]

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


15th Century, absinthe, from absinthium, from αψίνθιον (apsinthion), “wormwood”.


  • a UK /ˈæb.sɪnθ/ /"

Extensive Definition

Absinthe is a distilled, highly alcoholic (45%-90% ABV), anise-flavored spirit derived from herbs, including the flowers and leaves of the herb Artemisia absinthium, also called "wormwood." Absinthe is typically of a natural green color but is also produced in both clear and artificially colored styles. It is often called "the Green Fairy."
Although it is sometimes mistakenly called a liqueur, absinthe is not bottled with added sugar and is therefore classified as a Spirit. Absinthe is unusual among spirits in that it is bottled at a high proof but is normally diluted with water when it is drunk.
Absinthe originated in Switzerland. However, it is better known for its popularity as an alcoholic drink in late 19th- and early 20th-century France, particularly among Parisian artists and writers. Due in part to its association with bohemian culture, absinthe was opposed by social conservatives and prohibitionists. Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, and Aleister Crowley were all notorious "bad men" of that day who were (or were thought to be) devotees of the Green Fairy.
Absinthe was portrayed by its opponents as a dangerously addictive, psychoactive poison. The chemical thujone, present in small quantities, was blamed for its alleged harmful effects. By 1915 absinthe had been banned in the United States and in most European countries except the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Although absinthe was vilified, no evidence has shown it to be any more dangerous than ordinary liquor. Its psychoactive properties, apart from those of ethanol, have been much exaggerated.
A revival of absinthe began in the 1990s, when countries in the European Union began to reauthorize its manufacture and sale. As of February 2008, nearly 200 brands of absinthe were being produced in a dozen countries, most notably France, Switzerland, Spain, and the Czech Republic.

Etymology, spelling, pronunciation

The French word absinthe can refer either to the alcoholic beverage or, less commonly, to the actual wormwood plant (grande absinthe being Artemisia absinthium, and petite absinthe being Artemisia pontica). The Latin name artemisia comes from Artemis, the ancient Greek goddess of forests and hills. Absinthe is derived from the Latin absinthium, which in turn is a stylization of the Greek αψίνθιον (apsínthion), for wormwood.
Some claim that the word means "undrinkable" in Greek, but it may instead be linked to the Persian root spand or aspand, or the variant esfand, which meant Peganum harmala, also called Syrian Rue though it is not an actual variety of rue, another famously bitter herb.
That Artemisia absinthium was commonly burned as a protective offering may suggest that its origins lie in the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European root *spend, meaning "to perform a ritual" or "make an offering." Whether the word was a borrowing from Persian into Greek, or from a common ancestor of both, is unclear.
Variant spellings of absinthe are absinth, absynthe, and absenta. For its English pronunciation, see ; for the French, see .
Absinth (without the final e) is a spelling variant that is used by central European distillers. It is the usual name for absinthe produced in the Czech Republic and in Germany, and has become associated with Bohemian style absinthes.

The "ritual" (preparation)

Traditionally, absinthe is poured into a glass over which a specially designed slotted spoon is placed. A sugar cube is then deposited in the bowl of the spoon. Ice-cold water is poured or dripped over the sugar until the drink is diluted to a ratio between 3:1 and 5:1. During this process, the components that are not soluble in water, mainly those from anise, fennel, and star anise, come out of solution and cloud the drink. The resulting milky opalescence is called the louche (Fr. "opaque" or "shady", IPA [luʃ]). The addition of water is important, causing the herbs to "blossom" and bringing out many of the flavors originally overpowered by the anise.
Originally a waiter would serve a dose of absinthe, ice water in a carafe, and sugar separately, and the drinker would prepare it to their preference. With increased popularity, the absinthe fountain, a large jar of ice water on a base with spigots, came into use. It allowed a number of drinks to be prepared at once, and with a hands-free drip, patrons were able to socialize while louching a glass.
Although many bars served absinthe in standard glasses, a number of glasses were specifically made for absinthe. These had a dose line, bulge, or bubble in the lower portion denoting how much absinthe should be poured in. One "dose" of absinthe is around 1 ounce (30 ml), and most glasses used this as the standard, with some drinkers using as much as 1 1/2 ounces (45 ml).
In addition to being drunk with water poured over sugar, absinthe was a common cocktail ingredient in both the United Kingdom and the United States, and continues to be a popular ingredient today. One of the most famous of these is Ernest Hemingway’s "Death in the Afternoon" cocktail, a concoction he contributed to a 1935 collection of celebrity recipes. His directions are as follows: "Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly."


The three main herbs used to produce absinthe are grande wormwood, green anise, and florence fennel, which are often called "the holy trinity." Many other herbs may be used as well, such as petite wormwood (Artemisia pontica or Roman wormwood), hyssop, melissa, star anise, angelica root, Sweet Flag, dittany leaves, coriander, veronica, juniper, nutmeg, and various mountain herbs.
The simple maceration of wormwood in alcohol (as called for in absinthe kits) without distillation produces an extremely bitter drink because of the presence of the water-soluble absinthin, one of the most bitter substances known to man. Authentic recipes call for distillation after a primary maceration and before the optional secondary coloring maceration. The distillation of absinthe first produces a colorless distillate that leaves the alembic at around 72 percent alcohol by volume (144 proof).
The distillate can be bottled clear, to produce a Blanche or la Bleue absinthe, or it can be colored using artificial or natural coloring. Traditional absinthes take their green color from chlorophyll, which is present in some of the herbal ingredients during the secondary maceration. This is done by steeping petite wormwood, hyssop, and melissa (among other herbs) in the liquid. Chlorophyll from these herbs is extracted giving the drink its famous green color. This process also provides the herbal complexity that is typical of high quality absinthe. This type of absinthe is known as a verte. After the coloring process, the resulting product is reduced with water to the desired percentage of alcohol. Historically, most absinthes contain between 60 and 75 percent alcohol by volume (120 to 150 proof). It is said to improve materially with storage, and many pre-ban distilleries aged their absinthe in neutral barrels before bottling.
Modern absinthe is often produced by mixing steam-distilled oils in high-proof alcohol, and is called an oil-mix.
NOTE: Absinthe can also be naturally colored red using hibiscus flowers. This is called a rouge or rose absinthe. As of now, only one historical rouge brand has been discovered.

Absinthe kits

[Note: Absinthe kits should not be confused with hausgemacht absinthe.]
Numerous recipes for homemade “absinthe” are available on the Internet. Many of these center around mixing a kit that contains store-bought herbs or wormwood extract with high-proof liquor such as vodka or Everclear. However, it is simply not possible to make proper absinthe without distillation.
Besides being unpleasant to drink and not authentic absinthe, these homemade concoctions contain uncontrolled amounts of thujone and may be poisonous—especially if they contain wormwood extract. Many such recipes call for the use of a large amount of wormwood extract (essence of wormwood) with the intent of increasing alleged psychoactive effects. Consuming essence of wormwood is very dangerous. It can cause kidney failure and death from excessive thujone, which in large quantities is a convulsive neurotoxin. Thujone is also a powerful heart stimulant; it is present in authentic absinthe only in extremely small amounts.
Essence of wormwood should never be drunk.


Most alcoholic beverages have regulations governing their classification and labeling. Modern absinthe is not governed in this way and classification is difficult and, by nature, inaccurate. Historically, there were five grades of absinthe: ordinaire, demi-fine, fine, supérieure and Suisse (which does not denote origin), in order of increasing alcoholic strength and quality. A supérieure and Suisse would always be naturally colored and distilled. Ordinaire and demi-fine could be artificially colored and made from oil extracts. These terms are no longer used as an industry standard, but some brands today still use the Suisse designation on their labels. Many contemporary absinthe critics use two classifications to denote quality: distilled and mixed. Within these two process-based classifications there are substantial variations in quality due to variations in the raw materials used, and they should not be viewed as complete measures of quality.

Blanche/la Bleue

Blanche absinthe (also referred to as la Bleue in Switzerland) is bottled directly following distillation and is unaltered. It is a clear liquid which contains the distilled oils of the herbs used in its production. The name la Bleue was originally a term used for bootleg Swiss absinthe, but has become a popular term for Swiss absinthe in general.


Verte ("green" in French) absinthe begins as a blanche. The distillate is altered by the 'coloring step' whereby a new mixture of herbs remains in contact with the clear distillate. This process greatly alters the color and flavor, imparting an emerald green hue and a heavier, more intense flavor. This type of absinthe was most commonly consumed in the 19th century and is what is generally thought of as absinthe.
Artificially colored green absinthe is also called "verte" although it lacks the herbal characteristic from the natural coloring step.


Absenta ("absinthe" in Spanish) is a regional variation and typically differs slightly from its French cousin. Absentas typically are sweeter in flavor due to their use of Alicante anise, and contain a characteristic citrus flavor.

Hausgemacht absinthe

Hausgemacht (German for home-made, often abbreviated as HG) is a type of absinthe that is home-distilled by hobbyists. It is often called clandestine absinthe. It should not be confused with the Clandestine brand, nor should it be confused with absinthe kits.
Produced mainly in small quantities for personal use and not for sale, hausgemacht absinthe enables experienced distillers to personally select the herbs and to fine-tune each batch. Clandestine production increased after absinthe was banned, when small producers went underground, most notably in Switzerland.
Although the Swiss had produced both vertes and blanches before the ban, clear absinthe (known as La Bleue) became more popular after the ban because it is easier to hide. Although the ban has been lifted, many clandestine distillers have not made themselves legal. Authorities believe that high taxes on alcohol and the mystique of being underground have given them a reason not to. Those hausgemacht distillers who have become legal often place the word clandestine on their labels.

Bohemian style absinth

Bohemian style absinth (also called Czech-style absinthe, anise-free absinthe, or just "absinth" (without the e)) is best described as a wormwood bitters. It is produced mainly in the Czech Republic, from which it gets its designations as "Bohemian" or "Czech," although not all absinthe from the Czech Republic is Bohemian style. It contains little or none of the anise, fennel, and other herbs that are found in traditional absinthe.
Typical Bohemian style absinth has two similarities with its traditional counterpart, in that it contains wormwood and has a high alcohol content.


Absinthe that is artificially colored or clear is relatively stable and can be bottled in a clear container. If naturally colored absinthe is exposed to light, the chlorophyll breaks down, changing the color from emerald green to yellow green to brown. Pre-ban and vintage absinthes are often of a distinct amber color as a result of this process. Though this color is considered a mark of maturity in vintage absinthes, it is regarded as undesirable in contemporary absinthe. Due to this fragility, naturally colored absinthe is typically bottled in dark UV resistant wine bottles.
Absinthe should be stored in a cool, room temperature, dry place away from light and heat. They should also be kept out of the refrigerator and freezer as anethole can crystallize inside the bottle, creating a 'scum' in the bottle which may or may not dissolve back into solution as the bottle warms. Properly stored absinthes not only maintain their quality, but many improve in aroma, flavor, and complexity with aging.



The precise origin of absinthe is unclear. The medical use of wormwood dates back to ancient Egypt and is mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus, circa 1550 BC. Wormwood extracts and wine-soaked wormwood leaves were used as remedies by the ancient Greeks. Moreover, there is evidence of the existence of a wormwood-flavored wine, absinthites oinos, in ancient Greece.
The first clear evidence of absinthe in the modern sense of a distilled spirit containing green anise and fennel, however, dates to the 18th century. According to legend, absinthe began as an all-purpose patent remedy created by Dr. Pierre Ordinaire, a French doctor living in Couvet, Switzerland, around 1792 (the exact date varies by account). Ordinaire’s recipe was passed on to the Henriod sisters of Couvet, who sold absinthe as a medicinal elixir. By other accounts, the Henriod sisters may have been making the elixir before Ordinaire’s arrival. In either case, a certain Major Dubied acquired the formula from the sisters and in 1797, with his son Marcellin and son-in-law Henry-Louis Pernod, opened the first absinthe distillery, Dubied Père et Fils, in Couvet. In 1805 they built a second distillery in Pontarlier, France, under the new company name Maison Pernod Fils. Pernod Fils remained one of the most popular brand of absinthe up until the ban of the drink in France in 1915.
Today, some brands of absinthe are: Lucid, Aphrodisia and St George.

Rapid growth in French consumption

Absinthe’s popularity grew steadily through the 1840s, when absinthe was given to French troops as a malaria treatment When the troops returned home, they brought their taste for absinthe with them, and it became popular at bars and bistros.
By the 1860s absinthe had become so popular that in most cafés and cabarets, 5 p.m. signaled l’heure verte ("the green hour"). It was favored by all social classes, from the wealthy bourgeoisie to poor Bohemian artists. By the 1880s, the onset of mass production caused the price of absinthe to drop significantly, the market expanded, and this, combined with the wine shortage in France during the 1880s and 1890s, caused absinthe to soon become the drink of choice in France. By 1910 the French were consuming 36 million litres of absinthe per year, more than they drank wine.

International Consumption

Outside of France, absinthe has been consumed in several other places including most notably Catalonia in Spain, as well as New Orleans and the Czech Republic.
Absinthe was never banned in Spain, and its production and consumption has never ceased. During the early 20th century it gained a temporary spike in popularity corresponding with the French influenced Art Nouveau and Modernism aesthetic movements..
New Orleans also has a historical connection to absinthe consumption. It boasts a prominent land mark called The Old Absinthe house, located on Bourbon Street. Originally called The Absinthe Room, it was opened in 1874 by a Catalan bar tender named Cayetano Ferrer who brought his taste for the European beverage with him to America. The building was frequented by many famous people including Franklin Roosevelt, Frank Sinatra, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, and notoriously Aleister Crowley. Absinthe has been consumed in the Czech Republic (then part of Austria-Hungary) since at least 1888, notably by Czech artists, some of whom had an affinity for Paris, frequenting Prague’s famous Cafe Slavia. Its wider appeal in Bohemia itself is uncertain, though it was sold in and around Prague. There is evidence that at least one local liquor distillery in Bohemia was making absinthe at the turn of the 20th century.


Spurred by the temperance movement and wine makers' associations, absinthe was publicly associated with violent crimes and social disorder.
In the 1990s an importer, BBH Spirits, realized that there was no UK law prohibiting the sale of absinthe, as it had never been banned there and started importing Hill’s Absinth from the Czech Republic which helped begin a modern resurgence in absinthe’s popularity. Absinthe had also never been banned in Spain or Portugal, where it continued to be made. These absinthes—Czech, Spanish, and Portuguese brands—date mostly from the 1990s, are generally of Bohemian style, and are considered by many absinthe connoisseurs to be of inferior quality.
France never repealed its 1915 ban on absinthe, but in 1988 a law was passed stating that only beverages that do not comply with European Union regulations with respect to thujone content, or that call themselves 'absinthe' explicitly, fall under the old ban. This has resulted in the re-emergence of French absinthes, now labeled liqueur à base de plantes d’absinthe or liqueur aux extraits d’absinthe ('wormwood-based liqueur' or 'liqueur with wormwood extract'). Many absinthes marketed openly in other countries are re-labeled to meet these legal guidelines for sale in France. Interestingly, as the 1915 law regulates only the sale of absinthe in France but not its production, many manufacturers also produce variants destined for export which are plainly labeled 'absinthe'. La Fée Absinthe, released in 2000, was the first brand of absinthe distilled and bottled in France since the 1915 ban, initially for export from France, but now one of roughly fifty French-produced absinthes available in France.
Absinthe has never been illegal to import or manufacture in Australia. Importation requires a permit under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulation 1956 due to a restriction on importing any product containing "oil of wormwood". In 2000 there was an amendment by Foods Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) as part of a new consolidation of the Food Code across Australia and New Zealand to make all wormwood species prohibited herbs for food purposes under Food Standard 1.4.4. Prohibited and Restricted Plants and Fungi but this was inconsistent with other parts of the pre-existing Food Code. The proposed amendment was withdrawn in 2002 during the transition between the two Codes, thereby continuing to allow absinthe manufacture and importation through the existing permit-based system. These events were erroneously reported by the media as Australia having reclassified it from a prohibited product to a restricted product. There is now an Australian-produced brand of absinthe called Moulin Rooz.
The legacy of absinthe as a mysterious, addictive, and mind-altering drink continues to this day. Absinthe has been seen or featured in fine art, movies, video, music and literature. The modern absinthe revival has had an effect on its portrayal. It is often shown as an unnaturally glowing green liquid which is set on fire before drinking, even though traditionally neither is true. In addition, it is most commonly known in the media for over-the-top hallucinations.


Numerous artists and writers living in France in the late 19th- and early 20th-century were noted absinthe drinkers who featured absinthe in their work. These included Vincent van Gogh, Édouard Manet, Amedeo Modigliani, Arthur Rimbaud, Guy de Maupassant, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Paul Verlaine. Later artists and writers drew from this cultural well, including Pablo Picasso, August Strindberg, Oscar Wilde, and Ernest Hemingway. Aleister Crowley was also known to be a habitual absinthe drinker. Emile Cohl, an early pioneer in the art of animation, presented the effects of the drink in 1919 with the short film, hasher's delirium.
Absinthe has long held a place in European student culture.


The mystery and illicit quality surrounding the popular view of absinthe has played into modern music, movies, television shows and literature. These depictions vary in their authenticity, often applying dramatic license to depict the drink as everything from aphrodisiac to poison.

Effects of absinthe

Absinthe has long been believed to be hallucinogenic. This belief got a contemporary boost in the 1970s when a scientific paper mistakenly reported thujone was related to THC, the active chemical in marijuana, which has hallucinogenic properties. Martin Paul Smith incorrectly argued that absinthe had narcotic effects due to the fermentation process in early 2008.
Ten years after his 19th century experiments with wormwood oil, the French Dr. Magnan studied 250 cases of alcoholism and claimed that those who drank absinthe were worse off than those drinking ordinary alcohol, and that they experienced rapid-onset hallucinations.
Such accounts by absinthe opponents were embraced by its most famous users, many of whom were bohemian artists or writers. In one of the best known accounts of absinthe drinking, Oscar Wilde described the feeling of having tulips on his legs after leaving a bar. Two famous painters who helped popularize the notion that absinthe had powerful psychoactive properties were Toulouse Lautrec and Vincent van Gogh (who suffered from mental instability throughout his life).
Today it is known that absinthe does not cause hallucinations, especially ones similar to those described in 19th century studies. Thujone, the supposed active chemical in absinthe, is a GABA antagonist and, while it can produce muscle spasms in large doses, there is no evidence that it causes hallucinations. It has been speculated that reports of hallucinogenic effects of absinthe may have been due to poisonous chemicals being added to cheaper versions of the drink in the 19th century, to give it a more vivid colour.
However, the debate over whether absinthe produces effects on the human mind additional to those of alcohol has not been conclusively resolved. The effects of absinthe have been described by some artists as mind opening. The most commonly reported experience is a 'clear-headed' feeling of inebriation — a form of 'lucid drunkenness'. Some modern specialists, such as chemist, historian and absinthe distiller Ted Breaux, claim that alleged secondary effects of absinthe may be caused by the fact that some of the herbal compounds in the drink act as stimulants, while others act as sedatives, creating an overall lucid effect of awakening.
Long term effects of low absinthe consumption in humans remain unknown, although it is known that the herbs contained in absinthe have both painkilling and antiparasitic properties.


It was once thought that excessive absinthe drinking had worse effects than those associated with overindulgence in other forms of alcohol, a belief that led to diagnoses of the disease of 'absinthism'. One of the first vilifications of absinthe was an 1864 experiment in which a certain Dr. Magnan exposed a guinea pig to large doses of pure wormwood vapor and another to alcohol vapors. The guinea pig exposed to wormwood experienced convulsive seizures, while the animal exposed to alcohol did not. Dr. Magnan would later blame the chemical thujone, contained in wormwood, for these effects.
Past reports estimated thujone levels in absinthe as high — up to 260 mg per kg of absinthe. More recent studies have shown that very little of the thujone present in wormwood actually makes it into a properly distilled absinthe, even when using historical recipes and methods. Most proper absinthes, both vintage and modern, are within the current EU limits.
Tests on mice show an LD50 of around 45 mg thujone per kg of body weight, much higher than what is contained in absinthe and the high amount of alcohol would kill a person many times over before the thujone became a danger.
A study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol concluded that a high concentration of thujone in alcohol has negative effects on attention performance. It slowed down reaction time, and caused subjects to concentrate their attention in the central field of vision. Medium doses did not produce an effect noticeably different from plain alcohol. The high dose of thujone used in the study was larger than what can currently be obtained, even in 'high thujone' absinthe that cannot be sold legally in the European Union. While the effects of this high dose were statistically significant in a double blind test, the test subjects themselves could still not reliably identify which samples were the ones containing thujone. As most people describe the effects of absinthe as a more lucid and aware drunk, this suggests that thujone is not the cause of any of absinthe’s alleged secondary effects.


Currently, most countries do not have a legal definition of absinthe (unlike Scotch whisky or cognac). Manufacturers can label a product 'absinthe' or 'absinth', whether or not it matches the traditional definition. Due to many countries never banning absinthe, not every country has regulations specifically governing it.


Bitters can contain a maximum 35 mg/kg thujone, other alcoholic beverages can contain a maximum 10 mg/kg of thujone. In Australia, import and sales require a special permit although absinthe is readily available in many bottle shops. It is unresolved as to whether or not absinthe is permitted in luggage in non-commercial quantities for personal use. While the legislation would appear to be clear, it is sold by duty-free retailers at 'Arrivals' at Australian international airports such as Kingsford Smith.


In Canada, liquor laws are under the jurisdiction of the provincial governments. British Columbia has no limits on thujone content; Alberta, Ontario and Nova Scotia allow 10 mg/kg thujone; and all other provinces do not allow the sale of absinthe containing thujone (although, in Saskatchewan, one can purchase any liquor, with a minimum of one case, usually 12 bottles x 750 ml or 8 x 1L). Individual liquor boards must approve each product before it may be sold, and currently only Hill’s Absinth, Czech Absinth s.r.o., Elie-Arnaud Denoix, Pernod, Absente, Versinthe and, in limited release, La Fée Absinthe are approved. Like any alcohol, absinthe can only be imported by the proper government agencies and imports by individuals to a private address are prohibited.
Production is also regulated by the provincial government. Recently, Okanagan Spirits in British Columbia was allowed to distill a traditional style of absinthe that closely resembles absinthes from France and Switzerland.
Okanagan Spirits, a distillery based in Vernon BC, has produced Taboo, which has been approved for sale in BC, Alberta and Ontario and is even available on the shelves of BC’s provincially-run liquor stores. This is Canada’s only authentic absinthe, made using a traditional recipe.

European Union

The European Union permits a maximum thujone level of 10 mg/kg in alcoholic beverages with more than 25% ABV, and 35 mg/kg in alcohol labeled as bitters. Member countries regulate absinthe production within this framework. Sale of absinthe is permitted in all EU countries unless they further regulate it.


In addition to EU standards, products explicitly called 'absinthe' cannot be sold in France, although they can be produced for export. Absinthe is now commonly labeled as spiritueux à base de plantes d’absinthe ('wormwood-based spirits'). France also regulates fenchone, a chemical in the herb fennel, to 5 mg/l. This makes many brands of Swiss absinthe illegal without reformulation.


In Switzerland the sale and production of absinthe was prohibited from 1910 to 2005, but the ban was lifted on March 1, 2005. To be legally made or sold in Switzerland, absinthe must be distilled and either uncolored or naturally colored.

United States

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection literature, "The importation of Absinthe and any other liquors or liqueurs that contain Artemisia absinthium is prohibited." On the other hand, FDA regulations allow Artemisia species in foods or beverages, but those that contain Artemisia species, white cedar, oak moss, tansy or yarrow, must be thujone free. Other herbs that contain thujone have no restrictions. For example, sage and sage oil (which can be almost 50% thujone
The prevailing consensus of interpretation of United States law and regulations among American absinthe connoisseurs is that it is probably legal to purchase such a product for personal use in the US. It is prohibited to sell items meant for human consumption which contain thujone derived from Artemisia species. (This derives from a Food and Drug Administration regulation, as opposed to a DEA regulation.) Customs regulations specifically forbid the importation of 'absinthe'. Absinthe can be and occasionally is seized by United States Customs if it appears to be for human consumption and can be seized inside the US with a warrant.
A faux-absinthe liquor called Absente, made with southern wormwood (Artemisia abrotanum) instead of grande wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), is sold legally in the United States and does not contain grande wormwood. This was the first US approval referring to "absinthe" on the front label; the front label says "Absinthe Refined" but the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) classified the product as liqueur.
In 2007, TTB relaxed the US absinthe ban, and approved several brands for sale. These brands must pass TTB testing, which is performed by the Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry method and TTB considers a product to be thujone-free if the FDA’s test measures less than 10ppm (equal to 10mg/kg) thujone. A US distillery also began producing and selling absinthe, the first US company to do so since 1912.


The Absinthe (Prohibition) Act 1915, passed in the New Hebrides, has never been repealed, and is included in the 1988 Vanuatu consolidated legislation, and contains the following all-encompassing restriction: The manufacture, importation, circulation and sale wholesale or by retail of absinthe or similar liquors in Vanuatu shall be prohibited. Absinthe is now legal.


  • Adams, Jad. "Hideous Absinthe: A History of the Devil in a Bottle." Tauris Parke Paperbacks: 2008. ISBN: 1-84511-684-4.


External links

commons Absinthe


absinthe in Norwegian Bokmål: Absint
absinthe in Bulgarian: Абсент
absinthe in Catalan: Absenta
absinthe in Czech: Absint
absinthe in Danish: Absint
absinthe in German: Absinth
absinthe in Estonian: Absint
absinthe in Spanish: Absenta
absinthe in Esperanto: Absinto (likvaĵo)
absinthe in French: Spiritueux aux plantes d'absinthe
absinthe in Italian: Assenzio
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absinthe in Simple English: Absinthe
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absinthe in Chinese: 苦艾酒
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