Wandering around the Marais in Paris, not far from our hotel and tucked into a tiny corner off the Place du Marche St. Catherine, we saw this store front for Vert d’Absinthe. With my extensive knowledge of the French language, I gathered this boutique sold Absinthe.
Since Absinthe is not legal to buy in the U.S., it made me all the more intrigued and dare I say, curious, to wander in and check it out. I must admit, I felt a little naughty.
This boutique is a homage to everything Absinthe; books, vintage posters, glasses, fountains and all the other paraphernalia and accessories that go along with it are sold here. He is the Absinthe expert. No question. Here are a few of his offerings.
Here is a short synopsis about Absinthe on a leaflet provided by the proprietor with our purchase:
“ Absinthe was originally created by a Swiss woman in 1750 as a cure for stomach ailments. In 1797 the medicine was purchased by Major Dubied and became an aperitif known as Extrait d’Absinthe à 68. Major Dubied’s daughter married someone named Henri-Louis Pernod. Sound familiar? By 1870, Absinthe became the favorite drink of the French. It was know as La boisson nationale. The national drink. It was enjoyed by artists, writers, actors..and rich people. “
This seems perfectly logical to me because anise is known for settling the stomach and is often offered as an after dinner drink to aide digestion.
Over time, Absinthe got a bad rap and many have heard the stories about it causing hallucinations in some cases. This was due to the fact that some tried to made inferior quality Absinthe, which contained combinations of bad ingredients and chemicals, which led to sickness.
I can’t imagine that I would ever consume enough of the good or bad stuff for it to drive me to the point of hallucinations, but I still looked forward to finally having a few sips of the forbidden fruit.
There is a special way to prepare Absinthe, also known as Summoning the Green Fairy. The basic recipe:
- Pour a shot in the bottom of a glass. It will be a lovely emerald green color
- Put the special slotted spoon over the top of the glass
- Put a sugar cube or two on top of the slots in the spoon
- Slowly drip cold water over the cube, a little at a time, until the sugar dissolves
- The cocktail turns a milky jade green color and is ready to sip slowly!
Here is an instructional video, showing how to properly make it, with the fountain. I love the whole process. It’s a ceremony. A celebration. It does seem so French to me. So formal. The French do have a grand way of doing almost everything.
Absinthe tastes like licorice. But it has a stronger herby, anise flavor, much like Pernod, but much bolder. I did enjoy it, but only in small doses. I would enjoy it more sitting at an outdoor cafe in Paris, in the searing summer heat.
For more information, a virtual visit to the store, another video on preparation, a feast for the eyes and to hear the owner speak with a passion of Absinthe, I highly recommend a visit to his Vert d’Absinthe website. The website and videos are in French, but it is definitely worth a look. And if you’re interested in actually buying and sampling some Absinthe in Paris, visit the shop.
11 rue d’Ormesson
01 42 71 69 73