Taste of Absinthe


Pages 17 – 18

Because, as in the time of Moliere, the doctors are seldom of the same opinion, fans of the famous liqueur may be reassured by the surprising dissension among the opinions of these messieurs. While some, as a result of completely conclusive experiments (according to them), show anise and fennel to be the cause of the cerebral disorders noticed in the drinkers, absolving the wormwood plant, others, by experiments quite as conclusive, announce on the contrary the latter as the only culprit and restore anise and fennel to their primitive innocence. Which of them are right? Which are wrong? That is what the man on the street wants to know and these fundamental differences are not likely to inspire him to great confidence in the allegations of one or the others. In the end, the way in which the famous experiments are done and the conclusions reached are such that it is hardly possible to take them seriously. In effect, how does one seek to prove the toxic properties of anise essence or wormwood essence? One introduces into a guinea pig, by means of subcutaneous injections, one gram of essence; the animal is found to be stressed; sometimes he dies shortly after the operation; the demonstration is made and everyone must be convinced that either anise, or wormwood is a dangerous poison.

Before thus swearing on the word of the Masters, it would be wise to fall back upon the self-evident value of the experiment from the point of view of the constant thesis; it will be easy to arrive at the following reasoning: One will admit that a man whose weight is a hundred times greater than that of a guinea-pig, offers a force of resistance a hundred times greater as well; one gram of essence introduced into a guinea pig would thus represent 100 grams for a man; there would be nothing astonishing if the abrupt injection of 100 grams of essence into a human body had as a consequence serious disorders and even death. According to very precise calculations, one liter of absinthe contains at most 3-1/2 grams of essences of anise and fennel; the injection of 100 grams would thus be equivalent to the absorption of 28 liters; as for essence of wormwood it exists in the amount of 15 centigrams at most in one liter of liqueur; thus to absorb 100 grams of it, one would have to drink 660 liters! From one liter of absinthe, 25 portions are usually made; there are thus in each portion about 13 centigrams of various essences and 6 milligrams of essence of wormwood. Even supposing harmful properties are shown, which is not the case, it is difficult to admit that these infinitesimal quantities, quickly expelled from the body, can exert an annoying influence on the cerebral system. The consumer of Pernod Fils Absinthe runs certainly less risk than one who soaks up cognacs, fine champagne and other liquors manufactured with bad alcohols.