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While there’s no canonical description, Absinthe is a high-proof spirit flavored with anise and similar botanicals, the most notable of which are the leaves of Artemisia absinthium, aka grand wormwood. Most anise is green in color, which gave rise to the iconic “green fairy,” which is said to be seen when one consumes the spirit. A psychoactive chemical known as thujone is present in wormwood, and this gave absinthe an awful reputation in the early 1900s, when a handful of drinkers went on criminal sprees (some murderous). By 1915 it was widely outlawed. By the late 1990s a better understanding of thujone (which is present in modern absinthe in only trace amounts) led to these bans being relaxed. In 2007, absinthe was once again legalized in the U.S., opening the door for a rush of hundreds of new brands. Absinthe is properly served by placing the spirit in a glass, then pouring cold water slowly over a sugar cube placed over the glass on a specific type of spoon. Prepared absinthe “louches” by turning a milky white color.

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