Alcohol

Absinthe Now Legal in the U.S.; Threat Level Raised (Lowered?) to Green

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The NY Times has an interesting story about the return of legal absinthe to these United States. Here's a snippet about one of the guys who's now swilling the drink that purportedly made Van Gogh go nuts, turned Toulouse Lautrec into a dwarf played by Jose Ferrer in one of the most godawful movies ever made, forced Oscar Wilde into who knows what, and unleashed one of the original murder sprees in Europe way back when (leading to its being banned)…

"[On my bottles,] I had the image of a spider monkey beating on a skull with femur bones," Mr. Winters said. But he said that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau thought the label "implied that there are hallucinogenic, mind-altering or psychotropic qualities" to the product.

"I said, 'You get all that just from looking at a monkey?'"

His frustration came to a sudden end last Wednesday, when he learned the agency had finally granted approval to his St. George Absinthe Verte, the first American-made absinthe on the market in almost a century.

Since the start of the year, at least four absinthes, including two from Europe and one from South America, have been cleared for sale. At the same time, hundred-year-old legends about its ties to murder and madness have been discredited. For years, absinthe's chief appeal has been its shady reputation and contraband status. It was said to have caused artists like Van Gogh to hallucinate. Now that it is safe and legal, will anyone still drink it?

More here. (And by the way, the answer to that question is yes).

Jacob Sullum on la Fee Verte here et here.

Hat tip: Alan Vanneman, movie critic extraordiniare, pastiche author, and proprietor of an excellent new website, Literature R Us, where he's rolling out a new Nero Wolfe adventure chapter by chapter.