Taste of Absinthe


Pages 01 – 04


E. Dentu, Editor
3 – 5 Valois Square (Palais-Royal) 1896

The House of Pernod and Sons is so intimately associated with the origins and progress of the absinthe industry that it is impossible to separate or distinguish the history of the one from the other.The origins of absinthe are thus the obligatory preamble to the history of the House of Pernod & Sons which We propose to recount in these pages.

In spite of the name Swiss absinthe by which it often goes,the famous liqueur is of French origin. At the end of the last century a French doctor, Dr. Ordinaire, exiled in Switzerland, chose Couvet for the theater of his medical activity.

We cannot resist the urge to reproduce the portrait drawn of him by a Swiss writer. He was, apparently, an eccentric, of great height, riding through the Val de Travers on a small Corsican horse known in region as the Rocket. His unusual appearance did not fail to surprise the village populations; it gave rise to many jokes and persistent astonishment among the children. Ordinaire did not appear to be concerned with this; the gravity of his character was not affected. He was a doctor not without talents for his time, and he did a good job of bringing the medical art to the Val de Travers. He joined the practice of medicine to that of pharmacology; the majority of doctors of the countryside did no differently. Mr. Ordinaire did not scorn the panaceas, he employed one in particular, the elixir of wormwood, composed of aromatic plants of which only he knew the secret. Many people, having made use of it, declared themselves radically cured and the doctor could not pretend tobe other than pleased and to prescribe its use. Dr. Ordinaire would have been well astonished if anyone had predicted the high destinies to which his elixir would be called. At his death the mysterious recipe passed into the hands of the young Henriod ladies of Couvet. Cultivating the necessary herbs themselves in their garden, they distilled them in the family home. The production of the elixir at the time amounted only to a few pots which were sold with some difficulty by hawking. Little by little, however, thanks to its fragrance and pleasant taste, the elixir came to the attention of not only the sick,but to that of more and more fans, so that the recipe had already acquired monetary value when when Mr. Henri Louis Pernod acquired it to exploit it commercially.