Makes about 2 quarts
During the latter half of the 19th century absinthe was the favored drink in cafés and bistros throughout France. Absinthe, the “green fairy,” lyricized by poets and documented by painters, is made with alcohol of at least 68%. Its chief flavoring ingredient is wormwood, but other aromatic herbs like fennel, hyssop, aniseed or licorice are used as well.
The original formula seems to have come from French-speaking Switzerland and was purchased by Henri Pernot in 1797. By 1915 it was banned in France, because blindness and delirium were associated with excessive consumption. After World War I the Pernod family established a factory for its production in Spain, and absinthe can still be purchased there today. In France it was replaced by the now standard ‘pastis’ or ‘anis’ aperitif.
This home-made version relies on maceration not distillation, and branches of artemisia absinthium can still be bought in local markets towards the end of March beginning of April.
Absinthe was usually served diluted with water and ice, poured through a special drip glass so that the liquid would pass over sugar cubes before drinking.
- 3 1/2 oz (100 g) dried absinthe leaves
- 4 1/3 cups (1 l) l’eau-de-vie
- 1 3/4 cups (320 g) granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 oz (50 g) gum Arabic
- 4 1/3 cups (1 l) water
- Place the leaves and l’eau-de-vie in a glass jar or stone crock, store covered for 20 days.
- Crush the gum Arabic, place it in a bowl with sugar and water, stirring periodically until the sugar is dissolved. Add this to the crock, and let it stand for another 20 days.
- Pour the contents of the crock through a strainer into a catch basin, discard solids. Filter through paper or muslin and bottle.