100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Absinthe Banned In The US

In 1792 Pierre Ordinaire, a French doctor, sought to find a form of the wormwood plant, known for its healing qualities, that could be readily consumed by his patients. In 1797 the recipe was bought by Major Dubied and his son-in-law Henri-Louis Pernod who manufactured the spirit in Switzerland. In 1805 Pernod moved production to a larger facility in France.

In the 1850’s absinthe became popular with the artistic crowd with poets and painters drinking it daily in search of inspiration. By the 1870’s absinthe was consumed by all classes of French society – morning, noon and night. The ritual of dripping cool water slowly over a sugar cube which collected into a glass of clear absinthe turning it green gave it the name “The Green Fairy”. It’s popularity spread over Europe and to the US and by 1910 36 million liters were being produced. New Orleans with its connection to French culture became the absinthe center in the US and invented the Sazerac cocktail using absinthe.

In 1905 after an alcoholic farmer had 2 drinks of absinthe and murdered his family, the drink was banned in Switzerland. Belgium and Brazil followed as temperance movements demonized the drink as a destroyer of families and sanity. If they failed prohibiting all alcohol, they could at least focus on eradicating this one drink.

On July 25, 1912 the Department of Agriculture issued Food Inspection Decision 147 which banned absinthe in America.

Absinthe Robette
French advertisement by Privat-Livemont
Printed by Des Presses de J.L. Goffaft, Bruxelles (Brussels) 1896

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