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The Green Fairy Returns – Absinthe Is Legal Again

December 10, 2007 | By More

absinthe.jpgFor nearly 100 years, the United States and many other nations have banned it, but now a small company from Alameda, California is about to change that.

Last week, St. George Spirits of Alameda received news that a federal agency had approved its label. On Monday, the small artisan distillery sold its token first bottle, becoming the only American company since 1912 to legally sell absinthe in the United States.

It was the drink of choice for 19th century painters, poets and writers. Vincent van Gogh sliced off his ear while sipping it, Edgar Degas and Pablo Picasso painted it, French poet Paul Verlaine cursed it as he lay dying in his bed.

Now it seems that no one can remember exactly why it was prohibited. Some say it was the chemical thujone found in the herb wormwood, used to make absinthe, that affects the brain. Others say it was a plot by the wine industry to put the popular spirit out of business. And there are those who believe it was a case of baseless hysteria, not unlike “Reefer Madness,” the 1936 propaganda film about marijuana.

St. George will begin selling 3,600 bottles of its Absinthe Verte. That’s too few to distribute to big chains, so for now the company will offer it at its Alameda tasting room and at limited liquor stores for $75 for a 750 ml bottle.

They will will compete with three other absinthe distillers – the Swiss Kubler, French Lucid and the Brazilian Absinto Camargo. All have begun importing the licorice-flavored spirit into the United States in recent months.U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations state that the drink can contain no more than 10 parts per million of the chemical thujone, and that the word absinthe on the bottle’s label had to be small.

[via SF Gate]

Category: Food

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