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DEFINITION

  • Merriam-Webster: lib-er-tine. 1.) A free thinker, especially in religious matters. 2.) A person who is unrestrained by convention or morality. Origin: Middle English libertyn freedman, from Latin libertinus. First known use: 1577.

DEBUNKING THE MYTHS

  • Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh did cut off part of his left ear on Dec. 23, 1888, but not because of absinthe consumption. He was a brilliant but tortured artist, with what is euphemistically known today as “issues.” There are historians who argue to this day that van Gogh was not responsible for the slice that remains heard around the world.
  • Absinthe was banned nearly 100 years across the globe, because, wow, man, it was like tripping, only better. Absinthe was the beverage that brought clarity to the consumer, if not visions to behold. Its appeal is ever strong in modern times, serenading those rebels, with or without a cause.
  • Oscar Wilde on absinthe: “After the first glass of absinthe you see things as you wish they were. After the second you see them as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world. I mean disassociated. Take a top hat. You think you see it as it really is. But you don’t because you associate it with other things and ideas. If you had never heard of one before, and suddenly saw it alone, you’d be frightened, or you’d laugh. That is the effect absinthe has, and that is why it drives men mad. Three nights I sat up all night drinking absinthe, and thinking that I was singularly clear-headed and sane. The waiter came in and began watering the sawdust. The most wonderful flowers, tulips, lilies and roses, sprang up, and made a garden in the cafe. “Don’t you see them?” I said to him. “Mais non, monsieur, il n’y a rien.”

GO GREEN                

  • Which international movement was spurred into action as a protest against absinthe? — The temperance movement.
  • Absinthe is often misunderstood because of the alcoholic wallop it packs. Some absinthe labels climb as high as 130 proof, which puts it in another spirits category all together, especially when compared to the typical 80-proof standard of most hard beverages.
  • The creator of Absinthe was a French physician by the name of Dr. Pierre Ordinaire, who was practicing in Switzerland. Dr. Ordinaire invented absinthe in the late 18th century as a way to make wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and other homeopathic herbs more palatable. Europeans had long known of the medicinal properties of wormwood, and it was common to make a tea from the wormwood leaves to ease stomach aches. Yet the wormwood tea was extremely bitter, and the patient sometimes would wonder if the cure was worse than the ailment. Dr. Ordinaire was able to overcome the bitterness of wormwood by distilling it with other regional herbs like anise, Florence fennel, hyssop and melissa. The result was absinthe, without the bitter taste.
  • Dracula in the 1992 version of the flick directed by Francis Ford Coppola: “Absinthe is the aphrodisiac of the self. The green fairy who lives in the absinthe wants your soul. But you are safe with me.”