The highly potent green drink – widely associated with Belle Epoque artistic figures such as Toulouse-Lautrec and Van Gogh – was banned in France in 1915 because it reputedly sent people mad.
It was allowed back on sale in 2000 after manufacturers agreed to reduce the quantity of certain ingredients, but this week has taken another step towards respectability after the EU awarded a Protected Geographical Status label to Absinthe de Pontarlier.
The Absinthe drinker by Pablo Picasso – the drink's reputation made it the subject of many works of art. Photo: AFP
That means that anything branded Absinthe de Pontarlier must now have been made according to the traditional methods in the commune of Pontarlier – part of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region that nestles on the border with Switzerland.
Philippe Chapon, vice president of the Route de l'absinthe group, said: “This label is a guarantee that says: in Pontarlier and its surroundings, we distill real absinthe that has been grown here, in the Arlier plain, and that is made according to such quality principles.
“That's a hell of a step forward!”