Every now and then, absinthe will be referred to as a liqueur. However, traditional absinthe is not bottled with any additional sugar, which means it's actually a spirit.
The spirit (commonly referred to as la fée verte, meaning “the green fairy”) was consumed by all social classes, but became particularly popular in France amongst artists and writers during the late 19th and early 20th century. However, it was opposed by social conservatives and prohibitionists due to its strong link to bohemian culture of the era. A few well-known figures were known to imbibe from time to time, including Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Ernest Hemingway and Charles Baudelaire
It's a strong one
It's a highly alcoholic spirit (45 to 74 percent ABV, or 90 to 148 proof) was traditionally redistilled from a white grape spirit (lesser versions were made from grain, beet or potato-based alcohol) which was combined with grande wormwood, green anise and florence fennel. Other herbs were often used as well, including petite wormwood, hyssop, melissa, star anise, angelica, peppermint, coriander and veronica.
Verte or blanche?
The eponymous green colour occurs naturally, but blanche versions exist as well. These clear varieties are bottled directly after distillation and reduction, which means the herbs are not added
Sure, you could just drink it, but there's a traditional way to serve absinthe. Special slotted spoons were designed (and often quite ornate) to hold a sugar cube over top of a glass with a measured amount of absinthe in it. Ice water was then poured or dripped over the sugar to dilute it, creating a cloudy appearance due to botanicals with poor water solubility emerging from the solution. This process brought out flavours and aromas that were muted when undiluted. When ordered at a bar, patrons were given the necessary tools, but it was up to them to mix the drink.
The Bohemian Method, which may be more familiar, involves dousing the sugar cube in alcohol—which was usually absinthe—set on fire and then dropped into a shot of absinthe. A shot of water is used to douse the flaming absinthe and this method often produces a stronger drink than the traditional one.
Absinthe was often associated with miscreant behaviour, including violent crimes, and was banned by numerous countries in the early 1900s. It has been demonstrated it is no more dangerous than any other alcoholic spirt and it experienced a revival in the 1990s, when British importer BBH Spirits realized the UK had never actually banned absinthe. After being banned in France in 1914, absinthe was distilled and bottled for the first time in 2000 and the first genuine absinthe to receive a Certificate of Label Approval to be imported into the United States was the French brand Lucid—the first to do so since 1912. The French Absinthe Ban was officially repealed in 2011. V