Pliny The Elder reports that the champions of Roman chariot races are given a cup of wine steeped in wormwood as a reminder that victory is bittersweet.
Hippocrates, father of medicine recommends wormwood for a number of ailments including menstrual pains, rheumatism and anaemia
Grand Wormwood Artemisia absinthium
1792 Dr. Pierre Ordinaire, a French doctor, develops the first version of Absinthe in the Swiss town of town of Couvet. By mixing wormwood with other herbs and alcohol he creates his highly alcoholic elixir which quickly becomes a cure-all tonic
1797 Henri-Louis Pernod opens his
first absinthe distillery in Couvet,
the Val-de Travers, Switzerland
1805 Henri-Louis opens his second distillery, this time in Pontarlier, France. Production quickly rises from 16 litres a day to 30,000, establishing the town as the new home of The Green Fairy
1840 The French Foreign Legion
Soldiers fighting in Algeria are given Absinthe to ward off disease. It proves so popular, returning troops demand the drink in the salons and cafés of Paris
1859 Edouard Manet (1832-1883) creates the first great Absinthe painting.
1870 The Absinthe Boom Vineyards in France are almost destroyed by the Phylloxera bug. Wine is scarce for the next 30 years. Absinthe takes its place.
'Phylloxera, a true gourmet, finds out the best vineyards and attaches itself to the best wines' Punch cartoon
L'absinthe Degas (1834-1917)
Vincent van Gogh, by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 1887
The Green Muse Maignan
1905 Swiss farmer, Jean Lanfray, murdered his wife and daughters sparking a national campaign to obtain a ban on absinthe. Lanfray was said to be under the influence of absinthe when he shot his family – he was also known to be a wine guzzling alcoholic, who had washed down two glasses of absinthe with no less than a crème de menthe, a cognac, six glasses of wine with lunch, a glass of wine before leaving work, coffee with brandy and more wine before committing his crime.
1906 Absinthe was banned in Belgum and in 1908 Absinthe was successfully banned in Switzerland whereas France consumed a whopping 36,000,000 litres!
At the height of its popularity in 1915 absinthe was banned in France. Absinthe became caught up in the temperance movement that was sweeping Europe, thus becoming the scapegoat for alcohol. Pressure came from wine producers, who saw it as competition to their ailing wine trade trying to recover after the bout of phylloxera. Findings were also published showing that although small quantities of thujone were beneficial, extremely large quantities were a neurotoxin. Traditional absinthe became a thing of the past and was replaced by Pastis (a reformed version of absinthe omitting the vital ingredient – wormwood).