What Is Absinthe And Can It Really Make You Hallucinate?

If you watch the show "New Girl" then you must remember the "absinthe" episode. Nick and Jess go on a double date with their partners and get a tad bit too drunk trying to stay warm, using absinthe as a great way to fix that problem. Next thing they know, drunk is no longer the correct word to describe them!

Absinthe is used in plenty of other films and shows such as "EuroTrip" to conjure up unique and maybe scary ideas of what drinking it can cause a person. The way it is portrayed on television has given people a bit of misinformation in regard to its safety and enjoyment, says Bon Appetit.

There is a lot more to this mystical drink. This drink has been around for so long, it actually appears in the Bible as well as in ancient Egyptian and Syrian texts. So let's unpack all there is to know about absinthe and just how hallucinogenic it is.

Will it really make you hallucinate?

All rumors can stop because absinthe does not actually make you hallucinate. If you've seen the green fairy in "EuroTrip," it is all special effects. In fact, Taste of Home says the whole hallucination rumor began with a psychiatrist named Valentin Magnan in the 19th century.

Magnan believed the increase in alcohol-based violence during that time had to do with chronic drinkers, who specifically indulged in absinthe. His conclusions were wrong, but that didn't stop absinthe production and consumption from being banned in many places worldwide (via Taste of Home).

Drinking absinthe will make you hallucinate just as much as drinking vodka, whiskey, or tequila, says Liquor.com. Essentially, this means it will 100% not make you see a flying fairy anytime soon. The only thing drinkers should worry about is that it does have a high alcohol content. So, new drinkers, you may want to stray away from this on your next Saturday.

Can you get absinthe in the U.S.?

For quite some time you weren't able to get this spirit at a store in the U.S., and even when you were, it wasn't considered real absinthe, says Liquor.com. It wasn't until 2007 that you could have an easy time finding a real bottle. Real absinthe is made with an herb named Artemisia absinthium (wormwood), which is what gives the liquor its name and flavor.

The United States' Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approved the sale of products labeled as absinthe in 2007, and the spirit became legal to produce and consume after being banned for 95 years (via Taste of Home). Per the TTB, products must contain less than 10 parts per million of thujone and labels cannot have any kind of hallucinogenic meaning on them.

Nowadays, you can pick up a bottle of absinthe at most local liquor stores. Some online shops like Drizzly will also let you order it (via Taste of Home). Although it is sold in stores, it is best to call ahead to your local grocer just to be sure. If not, a liquor store is sure to have an option or two.

What exactly is absinthe?

Absinthe is a strong spirit that has three main ingredients, and some you have most definitely heard of! They are wormwood, anise, and fennel. These three key ingredients are what make absinthe a strong spirit, per Bon Appetit.

Besides the three key ingredients, there are others such as star anise, lemon balm, and melissa. As you can see, this liquor is full of many botanicals. When producers reinfuse the liquor with more of these, that is what gives it the pretty green color (via Bon Appetit). Each bottle is different, but most absinthes are between 50% and 70% alcohol. 

While the mix of botanicals gives absinthe a unique flavor, it is similar to licorice. Vertava Health notes that on top of the licorice taste, drinkers will get a hint of an herbal aroma. Taste will also vary depending on which kind you get. The two main kinds of absinthe are Swiss/French and Czech/Bohemian (via Taste of Home). Since the spirit was created in Switzerland, the Swiss version is likely a great option.

How should you drink absinthe?

A simple Google search will probably show that new 21-year-olds should stay away from absinthe for a bit due to its incredibly high alcohol content by volume. In fact, Taste of Home says that because it is so strong, it shouldn't be taken as a shot. There are actually plenty of cocktails that use absinthe, but there is one unique way to drink it.

The two main drinking ingredients are actually just cold water and a sugar cube. This technique involves slowly dripping water over a sugar cube on a spoon that is sitting atop a drinking glass, says Liquor.com. This causes the drink to not only dilute a little but gives a sweet taste mixed in with the bitterness. 

If a sugar cube on a spoon isn't up your alley, there are some cocktails to try out instead. The Manual has one called "The Long Walk." It contains tequila, Green Chartreuse, lemon juice, agave syrup, and Kubler absinthe. If you aren't a fan of that one, you can always ask the bartender what they would suggest for beginners!