Absinthe was both popular and misunderstood from the beginning. But its reputation was sealed in 1905 in the Twinkie defense of its era when a Swiss farmer named Jean Lanfrey went on a drinking binge (a couple bottles of wine, brandy, a glass of absinthe) and killed his family. He blamed the absinthe. He was found guilty, but by 1912, absinthe was banned in most of Europe and in the United States.
Absence made the liver grow fonder, and its reputation as a wildly intoxicating hallucinogenic spirit grew. By the 1990s, reports of absinthe drinking began filtering back from European outposts like post velvet revolution Prague, where cheap, imitation absinthe (no wormwood, just bright green dye in cheap liquor) was again widely available. Most of the faux absinthe offered all the charms of battery acid. It was far from the spirit that bohemians and artists like Van Gogh hailed as the green fairy.
Essentially, benign neglect worked in the spirit's favor. As European nations drafted new beverage laws during the formation of the European Union, they didn't explicitly ban absinthe. Eventually distillers noticed and some started producing it again.
Former New Orleanian Ted Breaux is one of the leading authorities and distillers behind the revival of high-quality authentic absinthe. He created several premium absinthes under the name Jade Liquors and is now behind Lucid absinthe which is available in the United States. Lucid won't send anyone into hallucinations, but with 62 percent alcohol, it's a potent spirit.
Who knows where Marilyn Manson got his taste for absinthe. He and the band were renowned for their antics in New Orleans when they spent some time here in the early 90s working with Trent Reznor.
It's almost disappointing to see Manson get behind a legalized substance, but purists can take heart, there are no versions of wormwood-free Mansinthe.
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