British poet and author Ernest Dowson once wrote of absinthe: “Whiskey and beer are for fools; absinthe for poets; absinthe has the power of the magicians; it can wipe out or renew the past, and annul or foretell the future.” I’m not sure if the Food and Drug Administration has approved those statements, and I’m sure a beer-focused town like Asheville might frown on his assessment of a good, cold brew, but anyone who has sipped on the delightfully potent “little green faerie,” as the drink has been called, knows that she is a magical little vixen indeed. Thanks to Mary Rich Hill and her company Spirit Savvy, you can find out for yourself at the Dance With the Green Faerie absinthe benefit for the Asheville Art Museum this Sunday.
Spirit Savvy has enlisted M.G. Road’s Cynthia Turner, a New Orleans expat, cocktail maven and absinthe aficionado, to provide the cocktails for the evening. Turner, who has been critical in the development of the burgeoning cocktail scene in Asheville, will be making four absinthe-centered cocktails as well as batching a classic punch.
Famously a favorite of Oscar Wilde, absinthe has been enjoying a resurgence lately in the U.S. after a nearly 100-year ban was lifted in 2010. It was banned in the early 1900s because it was believed to be hallucinogenic due to its key ingredient of wormwood, the oil of which is still heavily regulated in the United States. Distillers and lobbyists persisted in pointing out that one would have to consume enough of the spirit to cause poisoning in order to induce hallucinations, and in the 1990’s they finally started to gain ground and were able to clear the stigma associated with the licorice-laden substance. In 2008, the Journal of Food Research and Chemistry published that research showed that most lurid behavior associated with the liquor back in its heyday during the Roaring ‘20s was most likely more the fault of its exceedingly high alcohol content rather than its trace amounts of wormwood.
Dinner will be provided by the River Art’s District favorite, The Junction. Proceeds from the event will support the Asheville Art Museum, which Spirit Savvy’s press release describes as “the only nonprofit visual arts museum serving the 24 counties in Western North Carolina.” I recommend you wear green.
Sunday, Feb. 23, 7-10 p.m. at a secret location to be revealed the day before the event. Tickets are $75.