In accordance with the views of absinthe experts in Europe and North America, a genuine absinthe is always distilled directly from a mixture of whole herbs in alcohol, which should be a neutral spirit of agricultural origin. It should never be cold mixed from industrial extracts or steam distilled essences or oils. To be true to tradition, the herbs must include grande wormwood (artemisia absinthium), as well as European green anise and sweet fennel, and can include other culinary herbs.

An authentic absinthe verte receives its traditional green colour directly from the whole herbs, and should never be coloured with artificial colourants or chemicals. Genuine absinthe should never contain sugar as bottled, so it should not be classified as a liqueur. Finally, a quality, genuine French absinthe will always contain a higher concentration of alcohol to preserve its herbal content and natural green colour (60 to 72% alc./vol. is typical).

In the early 20th Century, wormwood was seen as a hallucinogen by those who blamed absinthe for various crimes perpetrated by some of its consumers. The hallucinogen claim is generally seen to have been a myth, though – as with all alcoholic beverages – responsible consumption is advised, as absinthe has a high alcohol content. It is recommended that absinthe be diluted prior
to consumption.

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