Absinthe

Artemesia Watch by Alchemy Gothic

The shocking green elixir of Absinthe is an incredibly strong alcoholic beverage derived from herbs, including the Artemisia Absinthium plant, known as wormwood, as well as green anise and sweet fennel. Tasting mostly of aniseed, it grew very popular in France in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, where it influenced the work of many Parisian Artistes at the time.

Traditionally a rich, natural green colour, it is commonly referred to as La Fee Verte, “The Green fairy” in French. During the time of the bohemian movement, it reached its highest levels of popularity. Much opposed by prohibitionists and socialist conservatives, it was served to many artists of the time, including Charles Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde and Paul Verlaine.

For a time, Absinthe has been painted as a psychoactive drug due to the miniscule presence of thujone. It was this discovery that led to its outlaw in the USA and many European countries including France and the Netherlands. However, the supply, purchase and consumption of Absinthe was never illegal within England, and La Fee Verte still spread her magic on British soil.

It has now been discovered that the so-called hallucinogenic properties are doubtful. Most likely it was the incredible strength of the original beverage (90-148 proof) that contributed to the ramblings of those artistically inclined, searching for their muse. Alternatively, some modern scientists point the finger of blame towards illegal chemicals added to cheaper absinthes in order to intensify the colour. Though science has robbed the green fairy of her mysticism, the legend behind the drink lives on. Artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Toulouse Lautrec gave the drink its reputation, and it is that story, now proven as myth, that Alchemy Gothic have used to create thriving and beautiful tributes to the seductive and lethal La Fee Verte.

Absinthe Fairy Spirit Crystal Ring by Alchemy Gothic

The legend of Absinthe as a mysterious and psychoactive drink lives on, rich in the social memory and media. Even after its modern day revival, Absinthe worked hard to perpetuate the illicit and volatile myth of its properties, often shown as being set on fire before drinking, or glowing an unearthly green, neither of which is necessarily true.

Traditionally, Absinthe is prepared by placing a sugar cube atop a special slotted spoon, often called an “Absinthe Spoon”. This spoon is placed on top of a glass filled with a shot of absinthe. Water is dripped over the cube, causing it to dissolve and mix with the absinthe, releasing the wide variety of flavours imbued within the drink. The resulting louche is opaque and milky in colour, and ready for consumption.

However, most people are more aware of the Bohemian method, which embodies the flair of the era. The sugar cube is pre-soaked in alcohol and set alight before it is dropped in the absinthe to set it ablaze. Finally a shot of water is added to douse the conflagration. If drunk at this stage the alcohol percentage is higher, but the taste is less refined. The Flaming Green Fairy, where the flames are left to extinguish themselves, reduces much of the alcohol content, but certainly ups the “wow” factor of a truly spectacular beverage.

However you choose to take your poison, it is clear that the mythology of absinthe stretches to all corners of the imagination, spinning a tale that is larger than life. It is this mystery that Alchemy Gothic use in their designs, giving La Fee Verte a new lease of life in modern times.

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