Category Archives: absinthe effects

Absinthe La Fee Verte by Elli Mayhem

The Czech absinth drinkers at L’Absinthe Rend Fou voted this our favourite absinthe film.

We watched a whole selection on a chilly grey Prague afternoon when the bar was “Dnes zavřeno – Soukromá akce”. The brands on offer at our event were Toulouse Lautrec, Doubs Mystique, Reality Absinth, La Fee Bohemian and, of course, my favourite Century Absinth 100.

Elli Mayhem

Elli Mayhem

Check out Elli’s art and poetry by clicking on her name above.

The Effects of Absinthe?

A very strange film showing two well known folks apparently off their rockers after drinking Czech absinth in a Prague bar. It is titled “Happy Hour Absinthe in Prague”

The Three Stages of Absinthe Drinking

Cafe Royal

Oscar Wilde on the effects of absinthe drinking. I wonder what brands of absinthe were served at the Cafe Royal in the high days of real absinthe?Anyway it seems that Oscar was actually floating out of the Cafe Royal – as he describes the tulip heads brushing against his shins. However, perhaps he wishes to suggest that the flowers were only just sprouting from the floor as the impatient waiter poured water from the can. The watering-can is even perhaps an interesting metaphor for the time honoured fashion of pouring water into absinthe? The passage seems to be very precise concerning the three stages of absinthe drinking:

At Oscar Wilde told me-in all his great heavy drawl-of the three stages of Absinthe drinking. The first stage is like ordinary drinking, the second when you begin to see monstrous and cruel things, but if you can persevere you will enter in upon the third stage where you see things that you want to see, wonderful and curious things. One night I was left sitting, drinking alone, and very late in the Cafe Royal, and I had just got into this third stage when a waiter came in with a green apron and began to pile the chairs on the tables. “Time to go, sir,” he called out to me. Then he brought in a watering-can and began to water the floor.“Time’s up, sir. I am afraid you must go now,sir”“Waiter, are you watering the flowers?” I asked, but he didn’t answer. “What are you favourite flowers,waiter” I asked again. “Now,sir, I must really ask you to go now, time’s up,” he said firmly.“I’m sure that tulips are your favourite flowers,” I said, and as I got up and passed into the street I felt-the-heavy-tulip-heads-brushing against my shins”

Absinthe and Oscar by John Fothergill

Did you know?

(i)The Oraon tribals of West Bengal, India, were reported to smoke leaves of the thujone-containing (Uniyal et al. 1985) Artemisia nilagirica (Clarke) Pamp. as an entheogen (Pal & Jain 1989) An entheogen is a substance with psychoactive properties often used in a religious or shamanic context.

(ii) The French define absinthe as hallucinogène:


Absinthe Hallucinations?

Zizkov Tower

Žižkov Television Tower

They say the famous crawling babies – on the Prague televsion tower – will start to move if you drink too much Czech absinth! Prague is full of summertime revellers right now, and the strong Czech absinth is flowing like mountain streams during the spring melt.

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.

– Oscar Wilde on Absinthe

A word of caution from Auckland film maker James Blick

The hostel I am staying in, however, is neither magnificent nor regal. I went for the cheap dorm option, along with teams of drunk Irishmen on some sort of alcohol-fuelled “weekend-getaway” package. I seem to be the only one in my dorm who is not in Prague for the cheap beer or absinthe, and so sleeping has not been easy as highly intoxicated Irishmen stumble in at all hours, laughing and knocking over heavy things. The guy who sleeps above me came in at six this morning so drunk on absinthe that he was hallucinating and rolling around all morning.

The tale ends with the sight of Italian handcuffed to his bunk and a nine-millimeter revolver! The spirit of Alfred Jarry lives on 😉

Update: Apparently the Green Fairy takes her summer vacations in Portugal:

From Stuart Cullen <>

Just a little extra info from an experienced Absinthe drinker. I have drunk three different types of absinthe (two Portugese [50% and 58% alcohol by volume] and One Czech [55% by volume]) on innumerable occasions — usually 4+ European shots a night.

In Portugal, to get its most extreme effect I was told to add sugar to the shot, light the absinthe, blow it out, drink it through a straw, cup my hand over the glass and inhale as much of the fumes as I could. I am sure this would be potent with any alcoholic drink. I have drunk stronger vodka [63% by volume] yet it has never had the effect of absinthe.

I have experienced one ‘hallucination’ — I was once positively sure that a girl was dancing beside me for several minutes when there was no-one there.

Thujone in Absinthe Quiz

Thujone in Absinthe

What was the legal thujone level in absinthe set by the French in 1907? You choose:

(i) 35mg

(ii) 100mg

(iii) 250mg

(iv) 1000mg

(v) There were no limits on thujone (alpha or beta)

Jad Adams and T.A. Breaux on absinthe effects

Hideous Absinthe

HIDEOUS ABSINTHE by Jad Adams is published in the US by the University of Winsin Press at $24.95.

Respected absinthe writer Jad Adams has a different point of view to absinthe manufacturer T.A Breaux:

JAD ADAMS, AUTHOR, “HIDEOUS ABSINTHE”:  Well, the main dangerous from absinthe is it is very highly alcoholic.  It‘s up to 75 percent alcohol by volume.  So that‘s 150 proof.  That‘s the most important danger from it, is that you‘re not likely to drink that much strong alcohol normally with any other kind of drink.

The other thing that it has is a chemical called thujone, which is a mind stimulant.  And this was the stimulant that the artists of the 19th century were interested in taking because it gave them new and different ideas and bizarre fantasies.  And that‘s the other factor that makes absinthe a different kind of drink from any other kind of thing.

COSBY:  Yeah, Jad, you were hearing about these reports of hallucinations.  How wide-ranging are they?  And how severe could they be?

ADAMS:  Well, that depends on the strength of the thujone.  Now, you can buy absinthe in a lot of countries in Europe, but the European Union restricts the amount of thujone, the active ingredient, to 10 parts per million.  So that‘s not very much.  However, there is available a lot of black-market absinthe with people make in their own private stills, producing this stuff for sale on the black market, and that can be five or 10 times stronger.  So you can actually get a much more strongly hallucinogenic product.

COSBY:  Well, you know, Jad, I want to—this is from a passenger who was on the ship with George Smith.  He claims that a bottle of absinthe was purchased in Italy.  Remember, the cruise ship went all over in Europe.  You can buy it in Europe.  It‘s illegal in the states.  In fact, this is how the passenger described how the group, including George Smith, was drinking this:  “They drank the whole bottle.  When I got there, the bottle was empty.”

Is there any way to tell how potent that would be and how much affect that could have on maybe someone who hasn‘t had this kind of drink before?

ADAMS:  Well, unless you actually have the bottle or some of the substance to test, not really, I‘m afraid, though certainly someone who‘s not used to this substance, drinking a lot of it, will find it rather surprising and unusual.  They‘re going to have different kinds of ideas.

What absinthe really does, what its active ingredient does, is to take the brakes off the mind, and so the mind is over-stimulated, it‘s having lots of fresh and unusual, strange, bizarre ideas.  So that‘s the sort of thing it does.

COSBY:  Jad, thank you very much.  We appreciate it.  Interesting, because a liquor I‘d never heard about this until a few weeks ago.

Well, with more on the potential dangers of this very strong liquor, we are joined tonight by the coauthor of the book “Absinthe:  Sip of Seduction,” absinthe historian and also chemist, Theodore Breaux.

Mr. Breaux, you say that it‘s not as dangerous.  You have a bit of a different take.  Why is that?

THEODORE BREAUX, ABSINTHE HISTORIAN AND CHEMIST:  Well, first of all, I appreciate what Mr. Adams says, but his science is about 30 years behind.  You see, the thing is, is that was a longstanding belief about absinthe containing lots of thujone and that caused hallucinations.  But nowadays, we know that that‘s not true.

Personally, I‘ve studied absinthe for about 13 years.  And when I say studied absinthe, I‘ve studied absinthe from 100 years old, such as this bottle that I‘m holding up, which has been unopened, except for the removal of samples for scientific analysis, as well as new absinthes, which are made—some of them which are made exactly like the old ones were.

And the one thing we know is that absinthe, old and new, does not contain a lot of thujone.  And what we know, from certain scientific studies, which have been published in the past year or so, is that, first of all, thujone is not present in any absinthe in sufficient concentration to cause any type of deleterious effects in humans.  For me…


COSBY:  You‘re talking about hallucinations, right, in layman‘s terms?

BREAUX:  Oh, there are no hallucinations, so the only hallucinations that one will find is in reading 19th century romantic literature.  In reality, it doesn‘t exist.

COSBY:  But, Mr. Breaux, let me read you also—this is interesting.

We‘re looking at the alcohol content, at least of absinthe, versus beer.  Absinthe has an alcohol content of about 68 percent, while beer is a little closer to 4 percent or 5 percent.  When you look at that, that‘s a pretty big difference!

BREAUX:  That‘s correct.  And that‘s the thing.  You take any high-proof alcohol, whether it be a high-proof rum, absinthe or anything else, and you just imbibe it with, you know, without reservation, well, something‘s going to happen.  I mean, you take two people and sit down to a bottle of 80-proof tequila, I guarantee before you get to the bottom of that bottle someone‘s going to be dancing on the tables.  You know, I mean, there‘s nothing…

COSBY:  You know, we hear now that the bottle was empty.  Do you think it could have played a role in this case somehow?

BREAUX:  Absolutely not.  Absolutely not.


BREAUX:  And any absinthe that is sold in Europe does not contain enough thujone to cause any hallucinations.  I would have to consume about three liters of absinthe at the European limit to have any clinically discernable effects from thujone, and I‘d be long dead from the alcohol by that point.

Rita Cosby: Live and Direct January 24th 2006

Absinthe Green Fairy Weed


“were goats consuming hallucinogenic plants? Not likely, Barrie said. “I don’t think the goats ate it,”

Absinthe, ingredient of banned, supposedly hallucinogenic liquor, spreading through town. Absinthe wormwood, a noxious weed, is running rampant in Vail. The town has hired a contractor to spray the weeds later this summer. Hemingway and Rimbaud wrote about it. Picasso and Degas painted it. They all drank it.

It is absinthe, a type of liquor that is banned in the U.S. because it supposedly makes its drinkers hallucinate.

The ban — as well as bohemians’ affinity for the drink — has given absinthe, nicknamed the “green fairy,” a certain mystique. So it might be a surprise to some that absinthe is literally spreading like a weed in Vail. The absinthe wormwood plant has become an annoying noxious weed for the town, which is stepping up efforts to get rid of it.

Absinthe facts

• Scientific name of the plant is artemisia absinthium.

• Alcohol content of the liquor is usually between 60 and 75 percent.

• Russian word for wormwood is chernobyl.

• Supposedly first distilled around 1792 by a French doctor living in Switzerland.

• A new brand of absinthe, called Lucid, is now being sold in the U.S.

“We sure do have it in the town of Vail, and we have a lot of it,” said Gregg Barrie, who directs the town’s weed program.

The town just discovered it last year because it looks so much like sagebrush, which is a native plant. There’s a lot of absinthe along the bike paths and the frontage roads in Vail, Barrie said.

“It looks a lot like sage,” said Stephen Elzinga, the county’s weed coordinator. “Up until about three or four years ago, I didn’t even know what it was. I just thought, ‘It’s sage, la, la, la, I’m a happy guy.’”

The powerful liquor made from the absinthe wormwood weed has had a cult following among writers and artists, but banned in the United States.

Miners’ indulgence?

It’s not clear how absinthe wormwood got to Vail. One theory is that hard-drinking miners brought it here to make the liquor, Elzinga said. The Gore Creek Valley’s limited mining history might quash that theory, though. Another theory is that it was brought here as a decorative plant, Elzinga said.

Mickey Werner, managing partner of Alpine Wine and Spirits in West Vail, had no idea that absinthe grows in Vail. Of course, he’s not legally permitted to sell absinthe, but he does sell Absente, a 110-proof liquor marketed as “absinthe refined.” Absente uses a wormwood plant that has less thujone, which is considered the hallucinogenic ingredient.

“We sell quite a bit of it,” Werner said. “We happen to have some locals — I don’t know if they’re seasonals or locals — who just have a taste for it.” The liquor tastes like black licorice or fennel, Werner said. It’s pretty good,” he said.

Vail has hired a company that’s going to spray weeds, including the wormwood, later this month. Noxious weeds like absinthe can push out native plants, Barrie said.

In previous years, Vail has brought a herd of goats to town to eat weeds. They won’t return this year. But were goats consuming hallucinogenic plants? Not likely, Barrie said. “I don’t think the goats ate it,” he said. “I don’t know if we have an absinthe problems where we had the goats.”

Perhaps Vail can make this a win-win situation by harvesting the plants to distill liquor for its lively Bridge Street bar scene.

“I actually quit drinking about five or six years ago, so I don’t need any,” Elzinga said.

Source: Vail Daily




Absinthe: The Effects

Oscar Wilde

What about the effects of drinking absinthe? Here are two reports from London and Chicago:

One night I was left sitting, drinking alone, and very late in the Café Royal, and I had just got into the third stage when a waiter came in with a green apron and began to pile the chairs on the tables. “Time to go, sir” he called to me. Then he brought in a watering can and began to water the floor. “Time’s up, sir. I’m afraid you must go now, sir.”

“Waiter, are you watering the flowers?”, I asked but he didn’t answer.

“What are your favorite flowers, waiter?” I asked again. “Now sir, I must really ask you to go now, time’s up, he said firmly. “I’m sure that tulips are your favorite flowers, I said, and as I got up and passed out into the street I felt the heavy tulip heads brushing against my shins.”

Oscar Wilde, London (1890) describes the effects of absinthe drinking

Czech Depp

Johnny Depp enjoys an absinthe whilst filming “From Hell” in Prague


The last time I did this, I lost the feeling in my legs,” says Ryan Kattner, aka Honus Honus, the mustachioed lead vocalist in Philly band Man Man. A 50-cent lighter spits a spade-shaped flame at a sugar-coated spoon, casting a soft neon green glow on a generously poured glass of absinthe. It looks like we’re cooking crack over a vat of food coloring, but it tastes like liquefied licorice and sweet moonshine.

“That’s actually kinda good,” says multi-instrumentalist Billy Dufala (stage name: Chang Wang) as he downs another hefty glass of green fairy juice. Good but strange. While no one’s had enough to make the room morph into Moulin Rouge, it takes only a few minutes before we all feel like cumulus clouds — floating somewhere between being stoned, drunk and (though I’m surrounded by dudes with three-week-old facial hair) aphrodisiac-addled.

Chicago, USA (2007)