It has gone by many different names over the centuries, and absinthe is again making a comeback.
It has gone by many different names over the centuries, and absinthe is again making a comeback.

The green fairy is making a resurgence

The green fairy, the green torment, the green oblivion.

It has gone by many different names over the centuries, and absinthe is again making a comeback.

A James Cook University researcher has launched a study into the rising popularity of "absinthe trails", where people sample established and lesser known brands of the green drink.

A version of absinthe has been traced back to Ancient Egypt, but the first evidence of absinthe in its modern form dates to 18th century France.

Dr Irmgard Bauer, from JCU's College of Healthcare Sciences, said the drink was reported to have hallucinogenic qualities and to enhance creative powers, but the medical profession raised concerns.

"Lives were cut short … by self-harm, violence, misadventures, and degenerating minds and bodies. The drink was blamed for 'soft brains', epilepsy and moral degeneration. By 1923 it was banned in France, Germany and the USA," she said.

Dr Bauer said it was assumed the wormwood ingredient was to blame for the side effects of the drink, but when scientists studied a component called thujone they found it can only be toxic in very high doses.

"But absinthe retains its mysterious, bohemian and decadent image among modern drinkers and we now have the phenomenon of 'absinthe trails', similar to wine trails, where devotees can move along a path of brewers and sample their wares."

Dr Bauer said responsible consumption of absinthe from reputable suppliers was no more dangerous than responsible consumption of other alcoholic drinks.


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