Absinthe, or The Green Fairy as it was commonly known, was first distilled by Frenchman, Dr Pierre Ordinaire, in 1796. The first distillery was opened by good old Henri-Louis Pernod.
The principal ingredient of absinthe is wormwood (artemesia absinthium) and the brew is strongly alcoholic at around 68% proof. Wormwood produces thujone, which is toxic when taken in large amounts. It is the thujone that is thought to be responsible for the mysterious effects experienced by absinthe drinkers.
Dancing with the Green Fairy, as absinthe drinking became rather romantically known, was a lifestyle choice of Bohemian artists living in Paris at the end of the 19th century. Artists and authors such as Toulouse Lautrec and Arthur Rimbaud celebrated líheure verte, the green hour, at the end of every day, when a couple of shots of the green liqueur were routinely taken before going to bed.
As no sugar is involved in the production or bottling of absinthe, the term liqueur is a misnomer; it is more correctly a spirit or liquor.
For a long time absinthe was illegal in many countries; a change in United States law in 2007 made it legal to distil and sell the spirit in the US. There are now many varieties and brands of absinthe on sale. Itís not the cheapest of liquors, but apparently you donít need much anyway.