Beware the Green Fairy: The History of Absinthe

With our upcoming Moulin Rouge Bash for Savannah's Fashion Night Out (it's tomorrow night!) we can only dive into what makes such a famous French landmark so special. The world of the Moulin Rouge, French nightlife, and vintage Paris bring about such necessary evils such as Absinthe. Though Absinthe itself has changed significantly throughout the years, it is still looked upon as a unforgettable novelty and piece of history from french culture.

The History of Absinthe

At the end of the eighteenth century, the drink was invented by one Pierre Ordinaire, a French doctor who distilled wormwood and other herbs in an alcoholic base as a remedy for his patients 

At the end of the nineteenth century, absinthe was embraced by the literary bohemian crowd who gathered in European cafes and claimed the Green Fairy (La Fee Verte) as their muse and inspiration.

The end of the twentieth century brought to an end nearly 100 years of nonsensical prohibition in parts of Europe. As a result, a new fin de siecle in crowd began discovering the delights of the absinthe drink once again.

The First Absinthe Fever

From its humble beginnings as a medicinal elixir, absinthe steadily grew into a global phenomenon.In France, absinthe quickly caught on as the favorite drink of the aristocracy. In the 1850's, the popularity of absinthe skyrocketed as the bohemian crowd embraced the "Green Fairy". Many famous poets, writers and artists of the day routinely reached for a glass in search of inspiration.By the 1870's, the absinthe craze was felt at all levels of the French society; just about everyone was drinking it. Days started with a glass of absinthe and ended with l'heure verte (the late-afternoon "green hour" ) when one or more glasses were drunk as an aperitif before supper.

Interestingly, it is believed that it was the 1870's blight in the French vineyards that ignited the spread of absinthe -- once the exclusive drink of the aristocracy -- across the social spectrum. At the time, wine was often drank with water, because water of that day had a high bacterial content and wine was believed to help. When the phylloxera blight caused a hike in the price of wine, working classes turned to cheaper absinthe to "purify" their water.

By the end of the nineteenth century, France alone was gulping down over 2 million litres of the liquid per year. In 1910, according to some reports, this had reached a whopping 36 million litres annually. By then, the absinthe fever had crossed the borders of France, and the demand for the drink spawned a successful Europe-wide industry of absinthe distilleries nestled in Swiss valleys and Bohemian forests.

We have stocked our shelves with Absinthe supplies such as spoons, sugar cubes, and glasses. Become a true "child of the revolution" by grabbing up some of these nightlife goods that are filled with a history of their own.

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