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An extract from the diary of Carl Lachmund, quoted in volume 3 of Alan Walker's biography of Franz Liszt (p. 412):

Sometimes in fact he drinks two bottles of cognac and as much wine. Now, while at Bayreuth [July 1882] he has taken it into his head that he must have absinthe. Where will this end. He cannot stand that terrible stuff very long.

To which Walker adds this footnote:

Absinthe had been introduced in Paris in the 1850s and was by now a "fashionable" drink among the intelligentsia. There were devastating consequences attached to drinking this milky-green fluid on a regular basis, including blindness, loss of memory, and paralysis. Nonetheless, the dreamy euphoria associated with the beverage led to the introduction of "Absinthe hour" in the cafes and restaurants of the Left Bank, where it was popular among artists in search of inspiration. Van Gogh was said to have cut off his ear while under its influence, while Toulouse-Lautrec became so addicted to it that he blended it with cognac - a beverage to which he attached the appellation "the earthquake," for it did indeed change one's centre of gravity, sometimes permanently. During World War I absinthe was finally banned by the French government, which attributed the poor showing of their army against the Germans to its widespread use month the troops.

This volume was published in 1997 when misinformation about absinthe was the norm; even so, I hope Walker's Liszt scholarship is of higher quality. (It is the most highly regarded Liszt biography in English.) The interesting part is Lachmund's diary entry, which suggests that absinthe's unsavory reputation was already well established.
By 1997 there were no more absinthe drinkers and promoters (people who actually knew something about the stuff) to refute the by then back-shelved load of crap, so, like you said, it was the norm. Even from its origin, there were obviously plenty of people who swallowed the propaganda; after all, it was ultimately successful. But all Lachmun says here is that it was "terrible", and considered from the standpoint of its alcoholic content compared to other drinks, it was definitely that, especially for an alcoholic. I would guess that Walker read much more into Lachmun's remark than was intended.
Which is pretty much what academia is all about. I mean, what else is there to do in an ivory tower?
I've heard drinking takes place, but those are only rumors.
I've heard that referred to as "research".
Jaded Prole
Don't knock it. I've been researching liquors and cocktails in depth for some time. A fascinating field with much to learn.
It's a notably well attended field of study, but you have to watch out for those boorish souls eager to regurgitate the knowledge they've ingested.
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