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(Don't shoot the messenger, I'm translating with errors and all)

Society / The boom in consumption of an ancient elixir based on wormwood.

Absinthe: the "damn liqueur's" fashion.

After a hundred years of prohibition, it's all the rage at parties and clubs in BA, costs US 50 an imported bottle, it's not a crime to drink it.

The "green fairy is back. Over a hundred years of prohibition were maybe the best promotion for artemisa absinthium to reapper at BA's bars and clubs. Also at exclusive parties and get-togethers were people experiment with this enigmatic elixir.

The Internet is abuzz with inquiries about how to procure an imported bottle or how to make it at home. A mystic halo surrounds the history of this emerald colored "damned liqueur" that has "secret societies" of followers and that it's sold secretly.

Absinthe, absynthe or absenta was the most popular ambrosia among the European bohemians starting from the second half of the 19th Century. Vincent Van Gogh, Edouard Manet, Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Charles Baudelaire, Ernest Hemingway, among many others, succumbed to the charms and excesses of the "green fairy" (fee verte.) "The queen of the boulevards" was called then, adding mystery to this brew created in Switzerland in 1792 by Dr. Pierre Ordinaire.

Actually, it's a liqueur based on wormwood, one of the bitterest herbs known, and with great antiseptic properties, that was used as a preservative. To counter its harsh flavor it is mixed with other herbs like angelica, coriander, anise and a lot of sugar. It's alcohol content varies between the 55% and almost 90% to keep the properties of chop.gif, a psichoactive compound that was blamed for causing epileptic fits and chronic hallucinations among undisciplined absintheurs.

In Argentina wormwood liqueur, very different from the imported absinthe that's drank today, was banned in 1907. The first Argentine Socialist congressman, Alfredo Palacios, introduced restrictive legislation, understanding that it represented a menace to the working masses. High indices of consumption in tango places, cabarets and run-down bars in BA have produced the widespread phenomenon of persons with psychotic symptoms.

"Pour me another cup of absinthe, nobody cares if I want to drink, because tonight I wait for her and I know she's not coming" said the lyrics of the popular tango "Cup of Absinthe" of Juan Canaro and Carlos Pesce. A hit at the time.

Prohibition in this country, anyways, appeared as a reflection of a worldwide tendency against bohemian excesses. Almost everywhere absinthe faded into obscurity.

The Green Saints (in English in the original) is a group of people in Buenos Aires dedicated to drinking absinthe. They mix literary and cinema discussions, accompanied by this highly alcoholic drink. Leandro, one of the member of The Green Saints, commented to La Nacion the most common absinthe in Argentina is the Hapsburg, from England, that costs US 50 a bottle. In BA bars the cup (chupito) costs between 10 and 14 dollars, though you have to ask for it with a secret code like "tanqueta" (Small tank or armored vehicle)

Like in a pagan ritual, the almost phosphorescent green liqueur dissolves the sugar cube placed over a perforated flat spoon. The absinthe is strained in the antique cup with a milky green hue. The deity or the demon, according to those who drink it, may appear at any moment. Though, when asked about mystical apparitions, Leandro assured us that he never perceived neither one of them (God), nor the other (the Devil).

"This absinthe is manufactured according to European Union regulations that insure their harmlessness in moderate quantities, but we have to warn that in places like Mendoza and Rosario it's being home-made and that can be very dangerous", said Leandro.

The Green Saints' absinthe provider mentioned to Leandro that nowadays demand is overwhelming. "It's like buying history, mystery, but if you only want to get drunk there are cheaper options", he said.

In the mysterious road to absinthe, LA NACION found the supplier. "Who's buying? We've been in the market for seven months and have sold bottles to lawyers, doctors, sport figures, old people and bohemians. The curious buy it. It's selling like hot cakes", he says.

In 1988 the European Union lifted the restriction on absinthe's manufacturing, though in some countries it cannot be marketed domestically. In France, where this liqueur had the largest number of devotees, debate started past April over whether to lift the ban. There are several brands that manufacture it for export only.


In a well-known essay, Phil Baker proposes the theory that the ban had its roots on a crime. A Swiss peasant killed his pregnant wife and his two daughters under the influence of this drink. Later is was found out that this man drank five liters of wine per day on top of a few cups of absinthe. In the Czech Republic and in Spain it never stopped being drank or manufactured. We must specify that in Argentina the ban is included in article 1123 of the National Food Code where it's specified what are the restrictions on sale. So use or possesion are not illegal.

Asked by LA NACION, Maria Luz Martinez, manager of technical administration of the National Food Institute, reminded us that no drink with wormwood extract is allowed in the country, though she admitted, anyways, that in the last Mercosur (kind of South American common market) a new list of flavorings that included wormwood was presented. "This doesn't mean that's allowed in the country because it had to be approved by the National Food Commission; we're talking of flavorings only", said the public official, though it wouldn't be unusual for the rules to become more flexible within an explicit legal frame. The tendency of a hundred years ago is, this time, reversed.

Notes:long time ago I posted the lyrics of the tango "Cup of Absinthe" and the translation. It's not exactly Keats, but if someone is interested I'll look for them again.

Also, a reader's letter says that the ban on absinthe was lifted in 2008, I don't know how accurate is this.

So the Green Saints have a clandestine domestic supplier?
Jack Batemaster
Dr.O !
That's the fish I was fishing.
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

Welcome back, buddy chickawow.gif abs-cheers.gif
Boveresse 2012…
QUOTE(Jack Batemaster @ Mar 1 2012, 08:45 PM) *

Dr.O !

vous devez aimer ce gars-là!
Maybe I'm been away for too long, but I'm not sure I follow you guys.

Arty, are you suggesting that I'm the supplier? Alas, no. What I understand in the article is that they have a supplier of imported absinthe.

Thanks for the welcome, and I don't get at all the: "Boveresse 2102".
QUOTE(dr_ordinaire @ Mar 2 2012, 03:03 PM) *

Maybe I'm been away for too long

End of story™. abs-cheers.gif
Maybe I'm been away for too long, but I'm not sure I follow you guys.

It's not much easier when you've been here. People often just make things up as they go along, and the threads take off on an alternate reality.

Arty, are you suggesting that I'm the supplier? Alas, no.

Yes, but only in jest.

I don't get at all the: "Boveresse 2102".

I just took it as Peter suggesting that you be there, but I don't know either.
That would be cool… Come along, Doc!
Jack Batemaster
QUOTE(péter vert @ Mar 2 2012, 03:01 PM) *

vous devez aimer ce gars-là!

J'aime bien ce gars en ce moment, mais je ne l'adore pas.
This is a brand that is available in Argentina. The price is equivalent to about 35 US$. I looked for it in the Absinthe Buyers Guide, but I couldn't find it.…odo-el-pais-_JM

The color is decent…
QUOTE(pierreverte @ Mar 1 2012, 05:08 PM) *
Boveresse 2012…

Venez nombreux!
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