| Posted in absinthe history, algeria, bourgeois, green fairy, the green hour, vichy | Posted on 10/18/2012
The second chapter talks about how absinthe developed from a local drink to being famous throughout the whole world. Absinthe became very popular amongst French soldiers that were stationed in Algeria in 1830, and this is why we're pleased to offer you the opportunity of getting to know Absinthe de Vichy better this week - its recipe originates from Algeria and was made around the 1930's. Furthermore, the soldiers used to call a mixture of Absinthe with almond sirup "Vichy".
The History of Absinthe - Chapter Two
French soldiers - ambassadors for absinthe
For more than 30 years, absinthe was just a local drink. It was first exported beyond the borders of France when the French army took part in the war of conquest in Algeria in 1830. The vessels, which transported the battalion over Africa to the coast of Algeria, also contained numerous crates of absinthe. It was used to sanitize contaminated water and to protect the soldiers from tropical diseases. However, its side effects (making life less monotone for the soldiers far away from home and their family) were much appreciated by the troops.
After returning to France. the members of the military brought their newly gained passion for absinthe with them, and it didn't take long until this drink had seduced the high society. From then on it became an expensive drink, and very popular amongst the parisian Bourgeoise. You could see people drink absinthe all along the Grande Boulevard.
A soldier's letter to a friend: About absinthe, and the day-to-day life of a soldier
Absinthe was fully adopted by the military and was part of everyone's stradition. As this letter states:
"This drink is in a great place my dear Paul, in both the military and colonial life, but it's being used and abused, it must be the heat! Nobody cares what you usually call these drinks! They were all renamed: for example, here, they call wine with sugar syrup ”état-major“! Absinthe, they call a “bureau-arabic”.
(…) Nine hours and still counting, the sun is burning: we're so thirsty ; l more hour until we can have absinthe. ( …)
If you wish to read the rest of this letter and the full version of this chapter, click here.
Absinthe in the military jargon
As you can see from this letter, there were a lot of different phrases used to describe absinthe. Here are some of them:
- "Bureau-arabic", "Moorish" or "Vichy" to describe an absinthe mixed with almond sirup.
- "Alfa" or "syrup d'Alfa" for a classic absinthe.
Absinthe to conquer the world!After the military, the settlers started using absinthe, for the same therapeutic reasons. Quickly, the French and Swiss distilleries shipped their products all throughout the world. Some distilleries even opened banches abroad:
- Fritz Duval in Brussels and Cork
- Berger in Argentina
- Pernod Fils in Tarragona in Spain (the place absinthe was distilled until 1965)
Absinthe for everyone – the chic drink of the "bourgeois"The golden age of absinthe was between 1880 and 1910 - it became accessible to all social classes, and because of the rising demand for absinthe, it became nearly as popular as wine. The “Green Hour” used to be from about 5pm to 7pm, and within that hour, the cafes were full of people, and all the chairs and tables along the main boulevards were overflowing. Everyone used to enjoy absinthe around that time. The passion for absinthe was widespread, there was a huge amount of advertising material, the artists claimed they got their inspiration from drinking absinthe – everyone was talking about it! The "Green Fairy" was found in all private homes as well, and represented 90% of all the aperitifs that were consumed. Another interesting aspect is, that it created jobs for thousands of people in both France and the rest of Europe, since distilleries opened one after another. During these years, absinthe had become the "national drink" of France.
I hope you enjoyed reading the second chapter of the History of Absinthe. In two weeks, the next chapter will be sent out to you – talking a bit more about its effects on society, and how it developed from being a chic, international drink, to the most frowned upon beverage in France.