Friday, 28 October 2011

10 things you didn't know about Absinthe: Number 3

I have written before about ladies and absinthe, even though that article was slightly tongue in cheek.

Women have in fact played a significant part in the development of absinthe, just as they have in the world of champagne. Champagne boasts Lily Bollinger, also famous for this quote:

"I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty."

And Veuve (Widow) Clicquot is probably even more famous. In fact she became a widow in 1805, the very year that Pernod was established in France (having previously been involved in absinthe distilleries in Switzerland).

Prior to 1805, there were three famous Swiss women involved in the very first production of absinthe, even if such production was on a somewhat smaller scale.

Mère Henriod and her two daughters are generally credited to have been involved with the very first absinthe recipes that were then sold to Major Dubied who created the world's very first commercial absinthe distillery in Couvet, Switzerland in 1797.

113 years later, after absinthe was banned in Switzerland, several famous absinthe ladies came to the rescue, and Duvallon's blog refers to them in detail. La Malotte, la Calote, la Marta and Charlotte Vaucher (creator of the La Clandestine recipe) are amongst the most famous ladies who did much to keep absinthe alive, during the time it was officially banned. The Charlotte Vaucher story is detailed here, with some fascinating details remembered by her family.

Coming right up to date, there are still some famous ladies involved in absinthe. I am fortunate to know Karine Bugnon


the multi-tasking wife of Claude-Alain, and very much involved in the production of his absinthes. Gaudentia Persoz is also well-known in the Val-de-Travers.

Heading over to the USA, Cheryl Lins' Delaware Phoenix absinthes are highly regarded, and there may be more women waiting to follow where she has led (Esprit Vert, anyone?).

And in France, of course, Marie-Claude Delahaye is probably the most famous absinthe historian of all.

SO, NUMBER THREE

WOMEN HAVE PLAYED KEY ROLES IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF ABSINTHE. MERE HENRIOD AND/OR HER TWO DAUGHTERS ARE GENERALLY RECOGNISED TO HAVE MADE THE FIRST DRINK WE WOULD RECOGNISE AS ABSINTHE, SEVERAL WOMEN ABSINTHE “MOONSHINERS” IN SWITZERLAND KEPT THE ABSINTHE FLAME ALIVE, AND THEY ARE SUCCEEDED BY MORE WOMEN IN SWITZERLAND AND USA TODAY.

Why are women so key in the history of absinthe? Intially it could have been the nature of the product they first made: a medicinal cure-all, good for curing gout but also for menstrual pains. And today? Maybe the noses and palates of women can work with and blend all those floral and herbal aromas and tastes much better than many men. In any case, santé to all those women, past, present and future, who have been so important in making absinthe what it is!

And a special santé to the ultimate absinthe lady herself, of course ... La Fée Verte!

For Part 4 of 10 things you didn't know about absinthe (Clear absinthe was made and sold before Green absinthe), click here.

For Part 5 of 10 things you didn't know about absinthe (How artificial colours are not needed in absinthe), click here.

For Part 6 of 10 things you didn't know about absinthe (How Absinthe boomed, died and was re-born, helped by a series of accidents), click here.

For Part 7 of 10 things you didn't know about absinthe (How even the French called their best absinthes "Absinthe Suisse" during the 19th century), click here.

For Part 8 of 10 things you don't know about absinthe (What happened when absinthe was banned, and how the Swiss bypassed that ban), click here.

For Part 9 of 10 things you didn't know about absinthe (The accident that led to full European re-legalisation of absinthe), click here.

For Part 10 of 10 things you didn't know about absinthe (The truth about the so-called Burning Ritual), click here.

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