The Thrill Is Gone


Absinthe, the reputedly insanity-inducing liqueur consumed by Van Gogh, Baudelaire, and many a bar hopper with no artistic or poetic talent whatsoever, soon will be legal again in Switzerland, the country where the drink was invented and one of the first places where it was banned (in 1910). According to Barnaby Conrad, author of Absinthe: History in a Bottle, "no individual alcoholic drink except absinthe has ever been singled out for prohibition." It was banned largely on the strength of horror stories similar to the tales of madness and mayhem later associated with marijuana, cocaine, PCP, and methamphetamine.

Now that legislators are beginning to reject anti-absinthe propaganda (though not everywhere–the stuff is still illegal in the U.S., for example), the Green Fairy's fans are not necessarily pleased. "I want to preserve the myth that comes with keeping absinthe forbidden and clandestine," one told The New York Times. "The myth is the thrill of breaking the law and not getting caught. The myth is offering as much money as you can and maybe still not finding what you're looking for. Next year you'll find absinthe in all the supermarkets. We're going to have the absinthe of the bazaar."