During Friday’s Wine Spectator’s Trade Day at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, hundreds of varieties of wines and spirits were available for sampling, and in many cases the owners of the companies and winemakers themselves were on hand to tell guests all about their products. We had the opportunity to speak with Lucas Bonchick, southern division manager for Lucid Absinthe (which was the first true absinthe to return to the market after it was re-legalized in 2006), and we took advantage of the chance to ask him a few burning questions about that mystical Green Fairy, and settle the mystery once and for all.
"All the artists in the late 1800s drank absinthe, and they nicknamed the drink itself 'The Green Fairy,'" he explained. "It was their muse, because when they would drink cognac or other types of alcohol they would just get drunk and pass out, but when they drank absinthe, their senses would be heightened; they’d feel more awake, alert, and lucid."
Hence the brand name.
So is there something special about absinthe, and especially the wormwood that goes into it, that gives it these interesting properties?
"People say that they get a different type of buzz from wine or tequila, for example, and it’s the same with absinthe," said Bonchick. "I will admit that a lot of it is mental perception. If you drink an energy drink, for example, you’ll feel like you have more energy, whether it works or not. But that said, if you go a night drinking only absinthe, then you’ll certainly feel different at the end of the night than with other drinks. I like to say that with other types of alcohol you feel it in your head. With absinthe, you feel it above your head."
And as to that persisting myth about seeing visions and other psychotropic properties? "Think about what it would be like 100 years from now if they were to ban tequila tomorrow," he said. "People would think of it as being pretty magical when they hear how crazy it made everyone who drank a lot of it!"