A journalist and photographer set out to the "absinthe valley" in search of the history, the botany and the illicit mysteries of the "Green Fairy"
Invented in a small valley in Switzerland, absinthe was the drink of choice for 19th century Bohemians. Van Gogh, Picasso and Oscar Wilde swore by its creative powers. But by the early 20th century, the drink was prohibited around the world.
This “other prohibition” lasted nearly 100 years. Only in 2005 was it legal to make absinthe again in Switzerland. This is the story of the invention and reinvention of the much-feared drink, and of the craftsmen who kept the traditions alive, despite the risks.
Swiss journalist Tania Brasseur travels through the few remote valley of Switzerland and France where absinthe is made today, and meets the people who have brought about absinthe’s renaissance. Along the way she discovers the turbulent story of “the green fairy’s” heyday in Paris, and delves into how it is made, how its very success led to its prohibition, and why it has now become a darling of barkeepers everywhere. With more than 100-photos from Tamara Berger, and illustrations by Ajša Vera Dorothy Zdravković, this is an intimate look at a stunning region of Europe never seen this way before.
1. Once upon a time there was a plant
Artemisias, the plants of a goddess
Absinthe, a holy herb
2. The origins of the drink
A popular traditional remedy
A promising start
3. Absinthe the conqueror
Army and colonies
Apéritif hour, the 19th century’s new fad
4. The Bohemian Fairy
Beautiful “Belle Epoque” indeed
5. Flourishing Business
The origins of advertising
6. Fairy in Trouble
Murder weapon: absinthe
A substance called thujone
Absinthe in the enemy!
Diehards from the Vallon
The delicious flavor of the forbidden
An impromptu visit
8. A blessed period
The hazy role of the authorities
The business of prohibition
Meanwhile, in France
Ice Cream for a President
9. Road to Recovery
A new fashion
A long-term battle
From resistance to rebirth
10. The Modern Fairy
“Most books on Absinthe focus on the decadent poets and artists who drank the infamous Green Fairy in the cafés of Paris. Instead, Tania Brasseur has written a charming travelogue that leads us back to absinthe’s ancient origins in the beautiful mysterious western mountains of Switzerland.” – Barnaby Conrad III, author of Absinthe: History In A Bottle
"A charming and beautifully illustrated stroll through the valleys of the green fairy” – Jad Adams, author of Hideous Absinthe: A History of the Devil in a Bottle
“In Absinthe: The Forbidden Spirit, Brasseur takes the reader on an expedition through her exploration of where absinthe was invented. She encounters absinthe experts and samples various absinthe in this lovely book that mixes history with a personal absinthe experience. Absinthe: The Forbidden Spirit perfectly melds historic facts with information about modern-day absinthe and the people responsible for it; it is a must-read for absinthe lovers and novices alike. Brasseur’s book would make the perfect addition to the bookshelf of anyone who enjoys books about history and cocktails.” – Marielle Songy, author of The Absinthe Frappé