Absinthe, an anise-flavored, emerald green liquor, was created by French doctor Pierre Ordinaire. Using local herbs, most notably wormwood, he concocted a drinkable elixir rumored to be a cure-all for a variety of ailments, including malaria.
With a massive wine shortage in France in the late 19th century, absinthe quickly became France’s most fashionable drink. In French cafés, 5 p.m. became known as “l’heure verte,” or the “green hour,” signaling the flow of absinthe into the late hours of the evening.
Nicknamed la fée verte (the green fairy) for its hallucinogenic properties, absinthe was the drink of choice for all, from the wealthy bourgeoisie to the working classes. The most famous of absinthe drinkers were the Bohemians – artists, writers and intellectuals. Among Absinthe’s insatiable enthusiasts were Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Oscar Wilde, Pablo Picasso, Edgar Allen Poe, and Mark Twain, who raved about the drink’s creative and poetic effects.