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Absinthe (also absinth, absynthe, absenta ) (English: IPA: /ˈæbsɪnθ/ ; French: IPA: ) is a distilled, highly alcoholic (usually 68 to 80 percent) anise-flavored spirit derived from herbs including the flowers and leaves of the medicinal plant Artemisia absinthium , also called Grand Wormwood or Absinth Wormwood . Absinthe is typically green (either naturally or with added color) or clear and is often referred to as la Fée Verte (‘The Green Fairy’). Although it is sometimes mistakenly called a liqueur, absinthe is not bottled with added sugar and is therefore classified as a liquor or spirit. Absinthe is uncommon among spirits in that it is bottled at a high proof but consumed diluted with water to the strength of wine (see Drink Preparation/Ritual).
Absinthe originated in Val-de-Travers, Switzerland as an elixir/tincture. However, it is better known for its popularity in late 19th and early 20th century France, particularly among Parisian artists and writers whose romantic associations with the drink still linger in popular culture. At the peak of its popularity, over 2 million litres of absinthe were consumed annually in France alone. Further, absinthe was portrayed as a dangerously addictive, psychoactive drug; the chemical thujone was blamed for most of its deleterious effects. The Lanfray murders of 1906 caused a petition to the Swiss government leading to its prohibition in Switzerland, and subsequently other countries. By 1915, it was prohibited in a number of European countries and the United States.
Though it was vilified, no evidence shows it to be any more dangerous or psychoactive than ordinary alcohol. A modern absinthe revival began in the 1990s, as countries in the European Union began to reauthorize its manufacture and sale. As of August 2007 over 100 brands in a dozen countries are produced.
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