In Proteus Stephen thinks of the scent of "froggreen wormwood" in Parisian cafes and shortly afterward recalls Kevin Egan "sipping his green fairy as Patrice his white." The references are to absinthe, an intensely alcoholic (as much as 75% ABV) and allegedly hallucinogenic anise-flavored liquor that was popular among artists and writers in Paris in the early 20th century. Later, in Oxen of the Sun, Stephen culminates a long day of drinking with some staggering draughts of absinthe.

JH 2014

Green and clear absinthes, mixed with water to produce the cloudy drinks that Stephen calls the "green fairy" and the "white." Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The Absinthe Drinker, painting by the literally and figuratively Bohemian artist Viktor Oliva, displayed in the Café Slavia in Prague. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

La Muse Verte, 1895 painting by Albert Maignant showing the fairy's grip on a poet's mind, displayed in the Musée de Picardie d'Amiens. Source: Wikimedia Commons.