You’ve most likely heard a story or two about absinthe: It makes you hallucinate, it makes you lash out in a murderous rage, it’s hugely addictive, it’ll turn your life into one big Baz Luhrmann movie. You’ve also probably heard these rumors are false. But those crazy stories certainly had to come from somewhere, which is why we’re diving into absinthe’s allegedly murderous past to find some answers.
Absinthe was originally produced for medicinal purposes before it started gaining popularity as a recreational beverage in the mid-1800s. As the thirst for the anise-flavored spirit grew, the phylloxera plague was decimating French vineyards. With wine stores low, people turned to bottles of the green stuff, drinking it over dinner in place of their usual Bordeaux or Chablis, and having a lot more fun. The absinthe industry thrived.