Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Absinthe ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Subject: Absinthe
Category: Family and Home > Food and Cooking
Asked by: jfy023-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 12 Jul 2005 23:09 PDT
Expires: 11 Aug 2005 23:09 PDT
Question ID: 542915
I would like to find web resources on absinthe.

Specifically, I would like to know what is absinthe, what is in it,
and what effects does it have when drunk.

I would also like to know how it is made and if it is made differently today.

Is it legal to posses, sell, or buy in the U.S.?  What legal sources
are there for absinthe (if any)?

What is the history of absinthe?  Why was it banned?  Is it becoming
popular again today?


Request for Question Clarification by till-ga on 13 Jul 2005 01:12 PDT
Are you interested in more background information than given in the
comment by jfy023-ga ?


Clarification of Question by jfy023-ga on 13 Jul 2005 04:41 PDT
No, thank you.  I believe that will be sufficient.

Subject: Re: Absinthe
Answered By: nenna-ga on 13 Jul 2005 13:36 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi John,

I see this posting by Till, (?Are you interested in more background
information than given in the comment by jfy023-ga ??)

However, I don?t see a comment by you, so I?ll go ahead and answer your question.

The Web definition for Absinthe is:
?A highly toxic liqueur, 140 to 160 proof, illegal in most countries,
flavored with wormwood and other herbs. Effects include those
customary with alcohol, plus a disorienting, floating, dream-like
quality from the combination of wormwood and herbs.?

Absinthe is ?traditionally diluted with cold water which is poured
over a perforated spoonful of sugar into a glass containing a shot of
absinthe. The drink then turns into an opaque white as the essential
oils precipitate out of the alcoholic solution, forming a colloidal

Wormwood is the main ingredient of absinthe, which gives it the
properties that make it desirable. The Thujone content comes from the
Wormwood. It also contains Ethanol. Both Thujone and Ethanol are
considered psychoactive. It?s reported if the Thujone quality is high
enough, it?s a hallucinogenic; however, any absinthe you get today
will be more like Everclear, and just get you quite drunk due to the
typical bottle being 75% alcohol by volume.

Here?s a bit of the timeline
1792 ? Absinthe starts being promoted
1840?s ? French Soldiers drank Absinthe as a preventative against
malaria and other diseases.
1912 ? Absinthe is banned in the US

Speaking of the bans, here?s an idea why it may have been banned.

?Since wine was considered a healthy drink and absinthe was the most
popular liqueur of its time, absinthe was blamed for many
alcohol-related problems and became the main target of early
prohibition efforts in France. Absinthe's association with the
bohemian lifestyle may have worked to compound fears about its
effects, much as has happened with marijuana in the United States. In
retrospect, absinthe seems to have become the focus of fears about the
changes that came with industrialization. Absinthe was subsequently
banned in many countries in the early 1900's.?

Here?s an 1855 recipe for Absinthe:

Macerate 2.5 kilograms of dried wormwood, 5 kilograms of anise and 5
kilograms of fennel in 95 liters of 85 percent ethanol by volume.
Let the mixture steep for at least 12 hours in the pot of a double boiler. 
Add 45 liters of water and apply heat; collect 95 liters of
distillate. To 40 liters of the distillate, add 1 kilogram of Roman
wormwood, 1 kilogram of hyssop and 500 grams of lemon balm, all of
which have been dried and finely divided.
Extract at a moderate temperature, then siphon off the liquor, filter,
and reunite it with the remaining 55 liters of distillate.
Dilute with water to produce approximately 100 liters of absinthe with
a final alcohol concentration of 74 percent by volume

Absinthe is made today, but with CONSIDERABLY less Wormwood/Thujone content today.

It?s still illegal in the US because of:
?801A of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of August, 1972.?
?Wormwood was included on a list of unsafe herbs which the FDA released in 1975.?
However, in other countries, they have upped the limits or removed the bans.
?The European Community Codex Committee on Food Additives has
restricted the levels of thujone to 0.5 ppm (mg/kg) in food and
beverages, 10 ppm (mg/kg) in alcoholic beverages containing more than
25% alcohol, 5 ppm (mg/kg) in weaker alcoholic beverages, and 35 ppm
in bitters. Absinthe (made with wormwood) is still available in Spain
(contrary to Pendell (1995)) and reportedly in Denmark, Andorra, and
Portugal as well. It has also recently become popular in the Czech
Republic under the brand name "Hill's Absinth."
From what it look like, it is still illegal to posses, but or sell
absinthe in the US, or from sources outside the US.

I found this, but it?s not a definitive law source:
?  It is illegal to sell thujone containing absinthe in the US for
human consumption.
?  It is illegal for someone outside the US to sell thujone containing
absinthe to someone inside the US.
?  It is not illegal to purchase thujone containing absinthe for
personal use in the US.
?  It is not illegal to purchase thujone containing absinthe for
personal use from outside the United States
?  Thujone containing absinthe can be seized by US customs (if it
appears to be for human consumption).

Here are a number of links for you to check out:

Google Search:

If this answer requires further explanation, please request
clarification before rating it, and I'll be happy to look into this

Google Answers Researcher
jfy023-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Thanks for the quick and thorough answer!  I decided I still wanted an
answer, so I'm glad you replied.

Subject: Re: Absinthe
From: mammonite-ga on 12 Jul 2005 23:39 PDT
Hey there. I don't think you need to pay money for an answer my
friend. The info's all on the web. Absinthe is an alcoholic beverage
flavoured primarily using wormwood (scientific name: Artemisia
Absinthium). It's illegal to buy, sell or possess in USA because it
contains a chemical called THUJONE, which is toxic, and has a similar
molecular geometry with THC, the active chemical in cannabis.

It's still available in places like Germany.

It inspired many prominent artists, writers and poets because of its
hallucinogenic properties (similiar to cannabis remember?). Just to
name a few - Vincent Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Manet, Ernest Hemingway -
in fact his masterpiece " For Whom The Bell Tolls " was written under
the influence of "The Green Fairy". Absinthe was first produced
commercially in 1797 by Henry-Louis Pernod, who purchased the formula
from a French exile living in Switzerland.
Subject: Re: Absinthe
From: nautico-ga on 13 Jul 2005 05:50 PDT
The legal variants in the USA include pernod and anisette. They,
together with absinthe, are anise or licorice in flavor.
Subject: Re: Absinthe
From: journalist-ga on 13 Jul 2005 13:50 PDT

The customer's comment regarding no further research necessary on this
question was posted at 04:41 PDT - your answer was posted at 13:36
PDT. . . . see above.

Best regards,
Subject: Re: Absinthe
From: nenna-ga on 13 Jul 2005 14:09 PDT
I see that... and if any issues arrive, I'll handle them. Thank you
for your concern Journalist-ga.

Subject: Re: Absinthe
From: journalist-ga on 13 Jul 2005 14:20 PDT
You're welcome, Nenna.  I'm glad it worked out to be in your favor this time.  

Best regards,

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy