A CONTROVERSIAL spirit banned in many parts of the world is being served in a Bolton town centre pub. Absinth, which originated in Czechoslovakia in 1792, was a popular tipple with leading famous names including writer Ernest Hemmingway and artist Vincent Van Gogh, who drank it for its 'effects on the creative mind'. By the 1850s it had become a popular drink of the upper classes, particularly in France, and known as La Fee Verte - The Green Fairy.

And now the extremely potent wormwood flavoured liqueur is being sold over the bar at the Crown and Cushion.

Landlord of the Mealhouse Lane pub Greg Mullins said: "We aim to offer people something a bit different and out of the ordinary.

"We've had to work hard to track down a supply of it and we're sure plenty of people will be curious enough to give it a try."

The potency of Absinth, which has a strength of 55 per cent alcohol per volume, means it is illegal in many countries around the world.

And Crown and Cushion staff have decided to strictly limit customers to no more than two shots of the liqueur.

The wormwood content of Absinth, which has bitter and tonic properties, is reputed to have caused hallucinations in the past.

The content has since been reduced, but it is claimed that the powerful effects of the original Absinth could have been responsible for Van Gogh cutting his ear off.

As well as being served neat, the liqueur can be mixed into a number of lethal sounding cocktails such as Atom Bomb, Knock Out and Death in the Afternoon.

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