Archive through November 19, 2000

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Topics Archived Thru Nov 2000:Grossman's Guide:Archive through November 19, 2000
By Jkk on Sunday, November 19, 2000 - 03:20 pm: Edit

I don't know about Grossmann's age, but if he wasn't born before 1890, he wasn't old enough to have had much experience with absinthe. Also, absinthe was really only popular in two countries, no, make that one country and one region: France and French-speaking Switzerland, so, even if he was old enough, he may still not have drunk much of the green. I would guess that he was a specialist in wines and perhaps a few other types of liquor, and he filled in the gaps in his knowledge with second-hand information. He may have been brilliant in his area of expertise, but I wouldn't necessarily go to an oenologist for questions about absinthe any more than I would for his opinions on varieties of Japanese sake.

By Grimbergen on Sunday, November 19, 2000 - 01:51 pm: Edit

I understand how it would be easy for him to slip up on his wormwood reference, but it is harder to dismiss what he says about fertility, simply because he was around when it was banned. (I am not committed to him being right, just trying to play devils advocate). Is it possible that the reason that the french legislature and/or regulatory bodies gave for banning absinthe differed from the hysteria in the press? Could the official argument for banning absinthe have been based on what Don said, the increase in still births? Has anyone read the original laws that prohibited absinthe?


btw, Don, could you reconsider giving a response to my nov 4th post in the 'distillation' thread.

By Don_walsh on Sunday, November 19, 2000 - 02:42 am: Edit

Absinthe is often claimed to be an aphrodisiac. One would think that would increase the birthrate.

However I stand with Twain who said that such conditions (male turgidity) ought to arise naturally or not at all.

By Don_walsh on Sunday, November 19, 2000 - 02:38 am: Edit

There were claims of stillbirths in France on the rise during the 1850-1900 period attributted to absinthe. Naturally, no one was correlating these with adulterated absinthes containing heavy metals, aniline dyes, Paris Green and other toxins not to mention methyl alcohol.

In the popular Swiss mind absinthe is blamed for birth defects in Jura districts where wormwood was/is grown and absinthe made. Remember, Lamarckian genetic theories were all the rage.

In the British mind absinthe is associated with blindness (my guess: methanol again). At least 2-3 Brit friends have told me absinthe makes one go blind. And I guess (supposedly) Verlaine did go blind and he did blame absinthe for it, so maybe this is a recent reintroduction of old fears courtesy of the Rimbaud/Verlaine movie.

I see little or no reason to have any fears but of course let's all keep investigating such allegations.

By Tabreaux on Sunday, November 19, 2000 - 12:34 am: Edit

I've read similar old references on this subject, and they do contain errors. This is nothing unusual by any means. He just didn't have all his facts straight. Absinthe was not very well known in the U.S.

By Midas on Saturday, November 18, 2000 - 10:39 pm: Edit

I for one had never heard an argument against absinthe using sterility as an example of a negative side effect, mind you, I'm sure prohibitionists would've used any excuse to further their cause.

By Grimbergen on Saturday, November 18, 2000 - 03:35 pm: Edit

Ok folks, this should make for a little conversation. I recently purchased "Grossman's Guide to Wind Spirits and Beers" By Harold Grossman. Mine is the 4th edition,printed in 1964, the first edition, was in 1940.

Some interesting points:

1. His definition of absinthe: Must contain wormwood. However in parentheses he says artemisia vulgaris!

2. He attributes the banning of absinthe in france to fears about fertility.

This guy isn't a hack. From what I have read of the book it is very well written. Plus he was certainly alive when absinthe was banned, and probably working in the alcohol business at the time. My guess is he just slipped up on the first point I mentioned. Any thoughts? Has anyone else read that the ban was related to fears about absinthe decreasing the birth rate?



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