Wormwood is the common name for Artemisia absinthium, the plant whose aromatic oil is used to make absinthe. Although absinthe contains extracts from a whole variety of different plants, wormwood oil is the key ingredient of the famed green drink, and perhaps the reason why absinthe is quite unlike any other liquor ever produced.
Wormwood is a wild plant of the daisy family. Native to Europe, it can now be found in many other parts of the world, especially North America. Wormwood is a perennial plant that flowers year after year. It grows between 30 to 90 cm (12 to 36 in) tall and has small, yellowish flower heads.
The otherwise ordinarily-looking wormwood plant holds a secret: its aromatic leaves and flowers are naturally rich in the terpene thujone, an aromatic, bitter substance believed to induce an inexplicable clarity of thought, increased sense of perception, enhanced creativity, inspiration and the ability to "see beyond" -- as all the famous absinthe drinkers amongst nineteenth century poets, writers, painters and other artists discovered. But wormwood's unique properties fascinated humanity long before the plant was first used to make absinthe in 1792. Because of its powerful effects on both mind and body, wormwood has been valued as a versatile medicinal plant since at least 1600 B.C.
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The Egyptians used the plant as an antiseptic, a stimulant and tonic, and as a remedy for fevers and menstrual pains. In ancient Greece, apsinthos (the Greek name for wormwood) was prescribed for many ailments and sometimes as a means of aiding child birth. In the Middle Ages, the plant was used to exterminate tapeworm infestations while leaving the human host uninjured, even rejuvenated, by the experience.
Since the time of the Romans, wormwood has also been known to aid digestion, and as an effective treatment for upset stomach. In the eighteenth century, a certain Dr. John Hill, describing a German feast of that day, noted: "The wormwood wine, so famous with the Germans, is made with Roman Wormwood, put into the juice and work'd with it; it is a strong and an excellent wine, not unpleasant, yet of such efficacy to give an appetite that the Germans drink a glass with every other mouthful, and that way eat for hours together, without sickness or indigestion."
Absinthe is an alcohol made from a number of different herbs, most notably wormwood – Artemisia absinthium. It was very popular among the artist and writer crowd in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was banned in most Western nations by the 1920s and remained virtually unavailable until a widespread revival in the 1990s following its re-legalization. Absinthe has a very bitter taste on its own, a result of absinthine, a substance found in wormwood. For this reason, sugar is often added to absinthe as it is being prepared for consumption to take some of the bitterness away. Most connoisseurs consider the need for sugar to be a sign of a poorer quality absinthe, with the best absinthes needing only water to be added.
How To Make "Absinthe":
One ounce dried chopped wormwood
One tablespoon angelica root
One teaspoon hyssop
One half teaspoon coriander seeds
One quarter teaspoon caraway seeds
One pinch cardomon pods
One pinch fennel or anise seeds
One liter vodka
In a glass container add the wormwood to the vodka. Set aside in the dark for ten days. For extra-powerful absinthe, use Everclear or 151 rum instead of vodka. This will give you a green-colored tincture (the green comes from the chlorophyll, and does not indicate the presence of the active ingredient, thujone).
100 proof vodka works good. too. Then strain out the wormwood and add all the remaining herbs and spices. Wait four more days, then strain these out and serve. Best when drank straight in short shots with water chasers. If trying Everclear (actually not recommended), dribble a little in a tall glass with ice and sour mix or cranberry juice.