Absinthe is such a ‘rare’ and ‘mysterious’ drink these days that it is hard to believe that during the Belle Époque period, lasting from about 1890 to the start of World War I, absinthe was France’s single most popular alcoholic drink — more popular than wine; served at every bar; advertised by numerous posters; imbibed by men and women alike. What happened??
The short answer is — absinthe’s popularity drew some very unwelcome attention. The wine industry became envious of absinthe’s success and waged a very effective propaganda campaign against absinthe. In addition, the prohibitionist movement, which sought to ban all alcohol, focused its efforts against absinthe, since absinthe was the most popular drink at the time. Together, these propaganda campaigns successfully changed public opinion about absinthe, linking the drink to debilitating and violent behavior as well as to insanity. What is more, that extremely negative perception endures to this very day.