The Quick 10: 10 Absinthe Drinkers
I'm having a 1920s-themed party for my birthday in a few weeks and was all excited to serve old fashioned 1920s-style drinks. I thought it would be a perfect excuse to try out absinthe, which I have wanted to do ever since the tamed-down stuff was legalized in the U.S. a couple of years ago. Alas, a little research has dashed my hopes, because absinthe was declared illegal long before the Roaring Twenties hit. But if I ever do get the chance to give it a shot, I'll be in good (crazy?) creative company:
1. Marilyn Manson is such an absinthe advocate that he even has his own brand of the stuff "“ the appropriately, if-not grossly named "Mansinthe." But he doesn't drink it. He prefers a brand called Serpis.
2. Ernest Hemingway once submitted a concoction he called "Death in the Afternoon" to a collection of celebrity recipes and allegedly wrote most of For Whom the Bell Tolls under the influence of the Green Fairy. The recipe: 1.5 ounces of absinthe with four ounces of ice-cold champagne. Hemingway even documented his absinthe-laden activities once: "Got tight last night on absinthe and did knife tricks. Great success shooting the knife into the piano. The woodworms are so bad and eat hell out of all furniture that you can always claim the woodworms did it."
3. Oscar Wilde believed that absinthe helped his creative process, and said, "After the first glass you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world."
4. Van Gogh is rumored to have chopped his ear off during an absinthe binge. Some research has suggested that it's even the reason that he used so much yellow in his works "“ thujone, a component of absinthe back in the day (it's not in the legal stuff in the U.S. these days), has been shown to fuel creativity and cause yellow-tinged vision.
5. Emile Zola favored the green beverage to distract him from all of his personal troubles. Even so, he knew what the drink could do if abused: in "L'Assommoir," he wrote about an absinthe addict who "stripped himself stark naked in the Rue Saint-Martin and died doing the polka."
6. Toulouse Lautrec loved the Fairy a little too much. A notorious alcoholic, Lautrec supposedly had a special cane made that could hold the green liquid inside so he would always have some with him. He used absinthe images in many of his works, including the one pictured: Monsieur Boileau au cafÃ©.
7. Edgar Allan Poe favored a strong drink consisting of brandy and absinthe (ew).
8. Johnny Depp is another contemporary absinthe drinker; Marilyn Manson said he and Johnny rang in New Year's 1999 together in France, drinking absinthe and discussing how the world was about to end. "I hated cocaine but I used to like Absinthe, which is like marijuana," he once said, "drink too much and you suddenly realize why Van Gogh cut off his ear."
9. Aleister Crowley loved absinthe, but that's no surprise "“ he tried (and enjoyed) just about every hallucinogen in the book, including laudanum, opium, cocaine, mescaline and heroin.
10. Even past presidents were known to imbibe the emerald from time to time. America's most famous absinthe joint (arguably) was the "Old Absinthe House" in New Orleans, which was renamed The Absinthe Room when new management took over in 1874 and began serving "French-style" absinthe. The Room boasted a celebrity clientele that included both Roosevelts and William Howard Taft, plus Oscar Wilde, P.T. Barnum, Mark Twain, Jenny Lind, Enrico Caruso, Robert E. Lee, Liza Minelli and Frank Sinatra. It's still there today.
Have any of you ever tried it? Is it good or gross? Should I just save my money?