The Bitter Truth Behind Absinthe

Absinthe, also knon as La Fee verte or The Green Fairy, is a distilled spirit that has an acquired taste. It is mainly composed of anise, fennel, and licorice, which give it its predominant flavor. This flavor profile can be unfamiliar and unappealing to most people in the U.S. who are not fond of black licorice candy.

Absinthe was banned in the U.S. in 1912 due to the belief that it contained hallucinogenic properties that could be dangerous. This ban was also implemented in several European countries around the same time. Even after the 21st Amendment abolished Prohibition in 1933, absinthe remained illegal.

In 2007, however, absinthe was legalized in the U.S. but with the regulation of thujone, a chemical compound found in wormwood, one of the main ingredients of absinthe. Thujone was believed to be responsible for the supposed hallucinogenic properties of absinthe, but recent studies have shown that it is not present in high enough concentrations to cause such effects.

Drinking absinthe straight is not recommended due to its powerful flavor and high content, which can be dangerous if consumed in excess. Instead, absinthe is traditionally served diluted with and sugar, which helps to balance out its intense bitterness.

Despite its acquired taste, absinthe has gained popularity among mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts due to its unique flavor profile and versatility in . It can be used in classic cocktails like the Sazerac and the Corpse Reviver, or in creations that showcase its bitterness like the Green Beast or the Death in the Afternoon.

Bitter absinthe is an acquired taste that has a rich history and unique flavor profile. While it may not be for everyone, it has gained popularity among mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts and can be enjoyed in a variety of cocktails.

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The Bitterness of Absinthe

Absinthe can be considered a bitter because it is characterized by its bitter taste. The primary ingredients in absinthe, namely anise, fennel, and licorice, are known for their bitter flavor profile. Absinthe's bitterness is often balanced by the addition of sugar or other sweeteners to create a more palatable flavor. However, it is important to note that the bitter taste is an essential characteristic of absinthe and is a defining feature of the spirit.

The History and Legality of Absinthe

Absinthe is a distilled alcoholic that is made with wormwood, anise, and fennel. It has a green color and is commonly referred to as La Fee verte or The Green Fairy. Absinthe gained popularity among artists and writers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly in France. However, it was banned in 1912 in many countries including the United States, due to concerns over its potential hallucinogenic effects and the belief that it caused violent or erratic behavior. The active ingredient in absinthe, thujone, was believed to be responsible for these effects. Despite bing banned, absinthe remained a popular drink among some circles and was still produced and sold illegally. It was not until the early 21st century that the ban on absinthe was lifted in many countries, including the United States, after it was determined that the concerns about its effects were largely unfounded.

Drinking Absinthe Straight: Is It Possible?

Absinthe is a green distilled spirit that is not recommended to drink straight due to its powerful flavor and high alcohol content. The drink is known for its strong anise flavor and can be overwhelming for some people. Additionally, drinking too much absinthe straight can be dangerous due to its high alcohol content. It is advisable to dilute absinthe with water or mix it with other ingredients to create a cocktail. When consuming absinthe, it is important to drink in moderation and avoid excessive consumption to prevent potential health risks.


Absinthe is a unique and complex spirit that is not for everyone. Its bitter flavors of anise, fennel, and licorice can take some getting used to, and its high alcohol content requires responsible consumption. While it was once banned due to unfounded beliefs about its hallucinogenic properties, absinthe has since been legalized in many countries, including the U.S., with regulations in place to ensure its safety. Despite its acquired taste, absinthe remains a popular spirit among those who appreciate its distinct flavor and history.

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Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.