What Makes Absinthe Green?
Is there another spirit that has as much folklore surrounding it as absinthe? Or another spirit that has a fairy mascot? Absinthe history is often misunderstood thanks to propaganda and rumors. That’s why I’m focusing on distilling some of the stories surrounding this beautiful green fairy spirit and delivering facts about absinthe.
What is Absinthe?
Absinthe, also known as the green fairy, is an uncomplicated liquor full of the essences of wormwood (artemisia absinthium), anise, and fennel. Absinthe was a traditional medicinal spirit used throughout Switzerland and France in the late 1700s. It became a recreational drink not long after and started its affair with misconceptions in the early 1800s. The last few years have seen a victorious return for the green fairy. People now enjoy how absinthe enhances the flavor of cocktails but also stands well alone.
Absinthe does have a licorice flavor thanks to the herb anise. But an absinthe that is well made will have whispers of licorice blended with other herbal flavors forming a robust flavor profile.
How Does Absinthe Get its Green Color?
So how does absinthe get its green color? Are green fairies caught in the bottles until their dust converts the liquid to a compelling green? The process is way more straightforward than trapping green fairies.
Absinthe is a combination of the holy trinity of herbs: wormwood, anise, and fennel. Once these vibrant herbs are distilled with the alcohol base the liquid becomes packed with the characteristics and oils from the herbs. The next step is to add more herbs to the spirit and allow the chlorophyll from the leaves to brighten the color. This part is like steeping tea, leaving the herbs to colorize and flavor the liquid. The process is called maceration. This is the traditional way that absinthe gets its charming green color. Plus, no fairies are harmed in the making of absinthe!
When shopping for absinthe, if you find a clear bottle with a bright, almost nuclear green liquid, you can bet it was artificially colored.
The absinthe I make uses Biodynamic grapes and certified organic grande wormwood (artemisia absinthium), anise, fennel, and coriander. I use the traditional Swiss recipe to produce an absinthe that has a natural golden color. I create a complex absinthe this is smooth, aromatic, brilliantly clear, and colorless. My absinthe recipe is free of artificial colors, gluten, and sugar. We bottle it in a dark bottle to protect the flavor and color from the effects of the sun on the chlorophyl.
Next time, I’ll introduce you to what makes absinthe louche.
Head on over to my shop to see my selection of brilliantly clear absinthe.
And stop by my library of recipes for many great absinthe cocktail ideas!