Thursday, November 04, 2004
Swiss Prepare for Absinthe Legalization
In January, after a hiatus of nearly a century, absinthe production will again be legal in absinthe's traditional home, Switzerland. Naturally, the then-legal distillers hope to be able to prevent any producers not from the Swiss absinthe-production region from calling their product "absinthe." My feeling is that if you make it illegal for nearly a century, you lose the right to control its name elsewhere. When Peru legalizes cocaine, they shouldn't be able to force the Colombian producers to call their product something else.
Some people have surprising reasons for not supporting the new law:
Not everyone in the Val-de-Travers is sanguine about legalization in Switzerland. For Pierre Andre Delachaux, a high school teacher and author of several books on absinthe, the move will destroy the mystique that came with the ban.You wouldn't want that, the "absinthe of the bazaar." Vice Squad occasionally turns to absinthe for solace, as in March and again in July.
"I want to preserve the myth that comes with keeping absinthe forbidden and clandestine," said Delachaux, who is also the curator of a small museum in Motiers with a special absinthe section.
"The myth is the thrill of breaking the law and not getting caught," he said. "The myth is offering as much money as you can and maybe still not finding what you're looking for. Next year you'll find absinthe in all the supermarkets. We're going to have the absinthe of the bazaar."
Brutal Hugs beat me to this story -- and, like Hamlet, was able to work "wormwood" into it.
Update: Maybe absinthe won't actually be legal in Switzerland until March, 2005.