Absinthe Recipes
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Jenny
Posted on: May 29, 1998

I would like to know of any recipes you might have that contain absinthe. I would also like to know about it and where I can get it.

Absinthe is a well known European liqueur made with wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). Wormwood was once the principal ingredient of absinthe, until it was banned from commercial absinthe in France in 1915. Concerns that thujone in the essential oil causes brain damage led to the ban. It has been long assumed that the painter Van Gogh suffered cognitive and physical disfunction in later life because of a predilection for the liqueur.

The essential oil contains up to 12% thujone which is now known to bind to the same receptor sites in the brain that tetrahydrocannabinol, the active constituent of marijuana, binds to. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies wormwood as unsafe, and habitual use is said to cause convulsions, vertigo, insomnia, restlessness, nightmares, and nausea.

Recently, some people have suggested that wormwood is not as bad as was once thought. Van Gogh’s illness, these same people argue, was due to his alcoholism, not his devotion to absinthe. Wormwood is still an essential ingredient of other bitter liqueurs such as vermouth.

There are many recipes for absinthe. Here are several from H. Bennett’s "The Chemical Formulary" (Chemical Publishing, New York, 1933).

Absinthe Essence a la Turine

3 grams Angelica oil
5 grams Anise oil
5 grams Fennel oil
1 gram Cardamom oil
5 gram Coriander oil
3 grams Marjoram oil
6 grams Star of Anise oil
3 grams Wormwood oil
10 kilos 95% Ethyl alcohol


Vienna Absinthe Essence

5 grams Angelica oil
15 grams Anise oil
10 grams Fennel oil
3 grams Cardamom oil
10 grams Coriander oil
10 grams Marjoram oil
12 grams Star of Anise oil
15 grams Wormwood oil
10 kilos 95% Ethyl alcohol


Swiss Absinthe

3 grams Angelica oil
5 grams Anise oil
5 grams Fennel oil
1 gram Cardamom oil
5 gram Coriander oil
3 grams Marjoram oil
6 grams Star of Anise oil
3 grams Wormwood oil
10 kilos 95% Ethyl alcohol


Richters carries 13 different wormwoods, including the standard variety of Artemisia absinthium which grows easily from seeds or you can purchase plants.

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