Food

A Liquid Hallucinogen

A “reservoir glass” and an absinthe spoon.
A “reservoir glass” and an absinthe spoon.

Absinthe, which was, at the turn of the 19th century, the favorite potation of Paris’ circle of artists, writers, and poets, became, by and by, the favored drink of every social class, from the rich to the poor. It began to be served in bars, bistros, cafés, and cabarets.

By the 1860s, the hour of 5 p.m. was called l’heure verte (“the green hour.”) By 1910, the French were drinking 36 million liters of absinthe per year.

A highly alcoholic, bitter, aniseed-flavored spirit, served diluted with sugared water, it was blamed for social unrest, and was widely outlawed in several countries in Europe, including France (its place of origin) in 1914.

A liquid hallucinogen, well-known for its ethereal green hue, it was known to produce effects similar to peyote and shrooms. So, the name, “La Fée Verte” (French for “The Green Fairy.”)

Sidelight: The other famous outlawed alcoholic beverage is the Irish spirit, Poitín 1661, whose prevalence goes back to the Middle Ages.

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