Reputed to be an aphrodisiac, absinthe is a potent, bitter liqueur distilled from wormwood and flavored with a variety of herbs. It has a distinct anise flavor and is 68 percent alcohol (136 proof). Absinthe is usually diluted with water, which changes the color of the liqueur from green to milky white. Because it's considered habit forming and hazardous to health, absinthe is prohibited in many countries and was banned in the United States in the early 1900s.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.