Absinthe, the fiery aperitif once loved and toasted by artists Toulouse-Lautrec and Matisse in the boisterous bistros of 19th century France, will once again become legal in Switzerland after a 96-year ban, the Swiss parliament decided this week. The potent liquor first made in Switzerland was banned in the early 1900s on the grounds that thujone, an ingredient found in the absinthe plant, had hallucinogenic properties. 'The lifting of the ban is great news and it's what we've been waiting for for years,' explained Yves Kubler, owner of the Blackmint distillery in Val-de-Travers in Switzerland, where Mr Kubler's grandfather first distilled absinthe in 1863. Although the distillery has been producing an absinthe-based drink since 2001, the original absinthe liquor could not be made as the ban limited both the alcoholic content in liquors containing the absinthe plant. 'We can now go above a 45 percent alcoholic content. This is necessary to release the full aromas of the ingredients used to make absinthe,' said Mr Kubler. 'But the most important thing is that we can now market our product as absinthe. The liquor has a legendary reputation and so the name is very important.' Legend goes that Van Gogh cut off his ear in a moment of absinthe-fuelled dementia. But the link between the ingredients and the wild behaviour attributed to some absinthe drinkers was never scientifically established. After the ban, Switzerland continued distilling the liquor illegally, producing up to 15,000 litres a year. 'What drove people mad before was the high alcoholic content of the drink which could go up to 70 per cent,' said Mr Kubler. 'This didn't add much to the taste, and it was very unhealthy.' The ban was overruled in France in 2001, where some old absinthe distilleries have been revived.