Have a glass of absinthe.
Absinthe is a highly alcoholic beverage that became popular in the late 18th to 19th century, even into the early 20th century. You've probably seen it in paintings, in movies, in books, since for a while, it was everywhere among artists and regular folk alike. Hemingway, Baudelaire, Toulouse-Lautrec, Verlaine, Wilde, van Gogh, Modigliani, etc. The list of artists who adored this bewitching, green drink is impressively long!
Absinthe contains essence of wormwood (Artemesia absinthium), anise, fennel, hyssop, Melissa (a kind of mint) and other herbs. Absinthe often had a clear, greenish tint (from the herbs, but occasionally from additives, see below.)
|Absinthe was its own party trick.|
Later, a chemical component from the wormwood, thujone, was blamed for this alleged behavior. Thujone is a psychoactive substance that affects GABA and a sub-type of the serotonin receptor. However, it's more likely that the high alcohol content caused more of these symptoms and problems in drinkers, rather than the thujone itself.
It was soon banned in several countries around the world, including the U.S. and France, among others. But in the last 20 years, it's become popular, with many countries lifting the ban, but with strict rules over thujone content.
So...if you want some Absinthe, you can get it (not for me, though--I'm not a huge fan of anise-flavored stuff). Today, it may not be quite the same thing they had in 1860's. In the U.S., for example, it has to be thujone-free.
It's it a fascinating history? And there's so much more. If you're interested, check out:
New York Times
The Wormwood Society
So! Could you imagine writing absinthe into a scene? Or have you ever tasted it?
Medical Mondays is a series intended to help writers with their fictional scenarios. Please check out the boring but necessary disclaimer on my sidebar. :)
(photos from Wikipedia)