Be Sure To Wear Some Wormwood In Your Hair…..

What does one do on their first night in a strange city like San Francisco?

Taking a stroll downtown to go visit the Absinthe Brasserie & Bar should be considered a must for any absintheur. As I am swanning through this fair city for a mixture of work and pleasure, it would be remiss of me to forgo visiting this fine establishment and letting you, dear reader, know all about it. Particularly as their website is (to our, we feel a little fraternal affinity from an interweb point of view.


Situated on an easily identifiable corner position between Gough and Hayes Street, this popular establishment has a rich and luxuriously laid out dining area and easily accessible bar area where food may also be purchased alongside ones imbibing. The decor and ambience reflects the French Cafe atmosphere one would desire for a night on the green.


Upon my arrival I was warmly greeted by a namesake, Jonathan (Jonny Raglin), the Principal Bartender for Absinthe. Soon our mutual love and interest in absinthe laid the foundations for comparisons of the Australian and US experiences with absinthe. Of course such conversations should be lubricated with a glass of absinthe. Perched on the bar were two four tap water fountains waiting for my decision….Lucid or the San Franciscan produced St George Absinthe. Neither of which are currently available in Australia.

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I take a glass of Lucid with sugar and cold water. Without wishing to pre-empt any future review of the product – the flavour to me was reminescent a Spanish absinthe, which are principally oil-mix products. Even though it is a distilled product, maybe it is a little heavy on the anise – but certainly drinkable, with a well formed louche. I was soon joined by two local absintheurs, Satya and Andrew (the latter running alternative music label, Smooch Records, promoting alternative Colorado musicians, particularly in the Dark/Apocalyptic Folk genre such as Tarantella and Lilium. Check them out).


Comparing notes, preferences and experiences, Jonny soon served us up a round of St George ‘Death in the Afternoon’ Cocktails, being absinthe and champagne. This being my first taste of St George Absinthe, I was hit with the distinct flavours used – Tarragon, Meadowsweet, Basil and Stinging Nettle. My palate took some adjusting to this new range of flavours, that I have yet to encounter in any other absinthe. It is not unpleasant, in fact quite tasty in a savory way, but certainly a departure from many French-Swiss style products (with maybe the exception of Blanche de Fougeralles which also has a wide canvass of distinct herbal flvours).

I followed the cocktail with a straight St George with sugar and water – a healthy thick louche, and again the distinct flavours. To me these flavours overpower the anise notes and wormwood just a tad, but maybe I am just mentally distracted by the unique flavour profile. Tasting over time will tell.

In any case, I do await both of these absinthes making an appearance in Australia for a more controlled tasting (and having brought back a bottle of St George to Australia, a formal review will follow in due course dear reader).

In the meantime, it is good to be in a city such as San Francisco where bars like Absinthe exist. Ice cold water waiting in the fountain, and barstaff who know their product, make for a memorable experience in a new city.

Oh, and try the Mussels and Fries in garlic sauce. They are to die for.

Jonathan May 10th 2008 03:45 pm Absinthe brands,Bars,Food,People,Style No Comments yet Trackback URI

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