The concept of Butterfly Absinthe began while an American absintheur, Brian Fernald was researching pre-prohibition distilleries in Massachusetts. Brian has a strong appreciation for absinthe and the history of classic cocktail ingredients. In his mind, Butterfly Absinthe should have been one of the first absinthe brands American distillers looked towards when the TTB adjusted their viewpoint on absinthe in 2007. Instead, Butterfly remained overlooked and Brian decided to start the project himself. The first step of the project was enlisting a group of local historians to research the brand and the Dempsey family. The research yielded a treasure trove of distilling information including a collection of books once owned by the Dempsey family with hand annotated recipes. With this valuable information, Brian set out to find a distiller to bring the Butterfly recipe back to life. Butterfly went into commercial production with a release date in the summer of 2010.
Butterfly Absinthe was a pre-prohibition American absinthe that was produced in Boston by P.Dempsey & Company from the early 1900’s up to prohibition. Absinthe became quite popular in the USA starting the in 1800's. French and Swiss absinthe started to appear on the American shore starting in early 1800s and by 1850 there were several absinthe distillers in the USA. The domestic absinthe companies helped fill the gap for imported absinthe created as the drink become more popular. By the late 1800’s, production was in full swing and there are reports of one distillery in New York City producing 1000 gallons of absinthe per month. Absinthe demand peaked in the early 1900s. Regional distilleries sprung up and produced absinthe in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. The temperance movement made absinthe its first victim in 1912 when the US Agriculture Department banned the importation and inter-state transport of absinthe. It is a common misconception that absinthe consumption and production stopped after the ban went into effect. Absinthe continued to be produced and served at the local level right up to prohibition in 1920. Pre-Prohibition American absinthe is its own style and differed from the absinthe being imported from Europe. The Americans used ingredients that were easily sourced and abundant on this side of Atlantic. This included mint and other herbs used in the coloring of the absinthe that created a style that is both complex and uniquely American.