absinthe ăb´sĭnth [key], an emerald-green liqueur distilled from wormwood and other aromatics, including angelica root, sweet-flag root, star anise, and dittany, which have been macerated and steeped in alcohol. It was invented in the 1790s by a Dr. Pierre Ordinaire, a Frenchman who lived in Switzerland, and the liqueur became enormously popular, particularly in late-19th-century Paris. Genuine absinthe is 70% to 80% alcohol. Because it caused harmful neurological effects (due to the presence of thujone, a toxic chemical in wormwood), absinthe was banned in many countries where it still is available it is no longer as toxic as it once was.

See study by J. Adams (2004).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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