The current issue of Wired has an article about Ted Breaux, an American microbiologist posessed by the La Fée Verte: absinthe
Raised in New Orleans, a city once dubbed the Absinthe Capital of the World, Breaux has long been fascinated with the drink. Absinthe is a 140-proof green liqueur made from herbs like fennel, anise, and the exceptionally bitter leaves of Artemisia absinthium. That last ingredient, also known as wormwood, gives the drink its name - and its sinister reputation. For a century, absinthe has been demonized and outlawed, based on the belief that it leads to absinthism - far worse than mere alcoholism. Drinking it supposedly causes epilepsy and "criminal dementia." Breaux has made understanding the drink his life's work. He has pored over hundred-year-old texts, few of them in English. He has corresponded with other amateur liquor historians. The more he's learned, the more he's felt compelled to use his knowledge of chemistry to crack the absinthe code, figure out exactly what's in it, puncture the myths surrounding it - and maybe even drink a glass or two. snip But the biggest vindication came at the Absinth des Jahres contest in 2004, for which expert judges sampled newly distilled absinthes from all over the world. A little-known candidate, Nouvelle-Orléans, garnered perfect scores and won a gold medal. "Without doubt, the release of Nouvelle-Orléans was a milestone in the history of modern absinthe," says Arthur Frayn, one of the judges. The distiller? Ted Breaux.More on absinthe may be found here.