Green Fairy banned in 1923


Weimar Absinth

Following on from our discussion about absinth at the 1932 Olympics, it does seem that the Green Fairy got her marching orders from the Weimar Republic in 1923. The year 1923 was the year of hyper inflation with one trillion marks being needed to buy one dollar! It seems that at about the same time production began to be stepped up in the Czech lands in places like Brušperku u Ostravy.

The flame licking around the sugar conjures up images of dark back rooms and secret chemist’s concoctions,of the Val-de-Travers in Switzerland, where the first absinthe distillery was opened in 1797, and of paintings by famous artists. For instance, Pablo Picasso’s absinthe drinker, who sits slumped next to a shimmering absinthe glass and dreams of distant
worlds.

Artists and writers like Oscar Wilde, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Allan Poe and Edvard Munch also paid homage to the green fairy, and said they believed that they owed her their visions and inspiration.

But the strong side effects led to absinthe being banned in one country after another — 1910 in Switzerland, 1914 in France and 1923 in Germany. Absinthe regained its legality only a few years ago, through the European Union’s Aroma Directive of 1998, which permits the production of absinthe with a maximum thujone content of 10 milligrams per liter, thus marking the renaissance of the green fairy. Ironically, it is still prohibited in Switzerland, the country where it originated.

In Germany, bars offering absinthe have opened in Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Munich and Frankfurt.

German absinthe merchant Sven Baumgartner has been selling the Czech Hills Absinthe in Germany since January 2000. After a slow start, he says, demand by specialist wholesalers and individual customers had been growing steadily. “Absinthe has now become an obligatory item in every good bar,” Mr. Baumgartner says.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (2001)

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