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Degas - The Absinthe Drinker

In 1805, Henri-Louis Pernod opened a factory, Pernod Fils in Pontarlier, France; the first distillery of an anise-based liqueur in France. The distillery had two stills that produced only sixteen liters a day, but as business increased, 36,000 square meters of land were purchased where a new factory which would average 400 liters a day, was built.The absinthe custom gained broad acceptance in France, aided by the French soldier's thirst for the liqueur and by savvy advertising by Pernod. Soon, they were producing 20,000 liters a day! After the deaths of Pernod & sons,  Louis-Alfred took over the business and by the turn of the century, their daily production of 30,000 liters was distributed to all parts of the world.

Naturally, absinthe soon found its way to New Orleans, Louisiana. The drink, which was spelled absynthe in an 1837 New Orleans liquor advertisement could be enjoyed under such brand names as Green Opal, Herbsaint and Milky Way. (Today, one can purchase Herb Sainte without wormwood.) The Old Absinthe House, located on the corner of Bourbon and Bienville streets, was frequented by many famous people such as: Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Walt Whitman and General Beauregard. 

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