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Green Hour @ The Absinthesalon

It must be said that the location of Sydney’s Absinthesalon, halfway along a steep hilly Albion Street, is well placed – given that the natural effects of gravity can only but assist the imbiber down the hill towards Central train station and other responsible forms of public transport. Let this be ample encouragement to leave the car at home dear absintheur, and enjoy the full experience.

Bad timing, pregnancy and the global financial crisis have all plotted against me in my efforts to be able to fly into Sydney to get along to the new Absinthesalon premises before now, but now I am here outside the dark grey toned establishment.  You may sometimes read this in other reviews of the Salon, but I can myself verify that as you linger outside the door you may detect the tell tale aromatic signature of aniseed in the air.

Proprietors Joop van Heusden and Gaye Valttila are most welcoming and usher me inside into the front room of the salon – exposed rustic brickwork, displays of the extensive range of quality absinthe products and water fountains, a giant antique cash register adorning a counter serve as a prelude to the inner sanctum behind the draped curtain adorned doorway.

Behind the curtain is a most intimate and inviting environment that captures the feeling of a proper absinthe salon. Now, don’t get me wrong, Belle Époque in Brisbane is an excellent representation of retro-French dining, all gold leaf edging and fleur-de-ly’s, but Gaye and Joop have utilised the limited space typical of a period Surry Hills terrace to manifest a very different type of neo-Gallic experience.  The interior is illuminated with a ‘petite’ version of wrought iron street lamp posts, tasteful minimalism to the interior decoration, round mirrors and sparing use of stylistic wallpaper. The far wall is adorned with a graceful mural of La Fée Verte, the Green Fairy herself, a fine rendition of one of the most famous representations of her from the original heyday.

With room for at most 30-odd patrons, all seating is set around a pleasingly non-crowded arrangement of small café tables adorned with 4 tap water fountains for the absinthe ritual. And let’s be clear, the experience and discussion of absinthe is not unlike that of wine, it should be shared amongst convivial company. The spacial design suitably encourages this.

Friday and Saturday nights are generally booked out in advance so don’t be surprised if you rock up on a whim and unable to satisfy your curiosity.  Another aspect to be aware of is that there is a three drink limit per person. Some may find this as profoundly odd that a drinking establishment would be seeking to limit their own sales, but as any absintheur worth their salt will tell you, the consumption of each glass of absinthe should be prolonged, savoured, and well considered. When approached in this fashion most will be satisfied after two glasses, some even after one.

So as Joop himself may tell you, “Slow Down!”.
(I know this is counter-intuitive to most Sydney-siders, but advice well worth heeding. Hey, you got a booking, stay around and enjoy the ambience for a while.)

Also, don’t be surprised if your hosts take on the role of Sommelier, and in fact steer you away from initially diving head-first into the high-proof absinthe brands. They are there to help you enjoy the absinthe experience as much as possible, and as such they will guide you through appropriate entry level absinthes until you have a better appreciation for the flavours, the nuances and styles. There are many absinthes to try in a range of price brackets (from around $12 a glass upwards), many styles and regions to explore.

You’ll just have to keep coming back won’t you?

I know I will.

Stay tuned for review of Jade PF 1901 absinthe conducted in situ

Posted by Jonathan on Jun 11th 2010 | Filed in Absinthiana,Bars,Cocktails,Culture,Food,News,People,Style | Comments (0)

Party Like It’s 1899 – Competition for Victorian Libertines

Dear friendly Libertines amongst the Melburnian set,

Do you have a frock coat and brocaded shirt just dying for an excuse to come out of the closet?

Maybe an insanely tight corset to die for (not in!) or a pair of flirty French ‘Lolly Bloomers’  that screams for some damn high kicking?

The fine people at Marionette Management Talent Agency are having a launch party on the 24th July 2009 on an Absinthe theme, which is a damn good excuse to get dressed in your finest fabulous Victoriana – with a shot of green of course – and go party with all the beautiful, and most talented people. Only $25 for the waged, and $17 for those undergoing higher learning, it will be held at Chasers, 29 Bray Street, South Yarra, with tickets available from Moshtix.

Through the Marionette’s generosity, we at have managed to secure a free double pass for the most fantastically adorned member from Victoria, who can send us a photo of themselves in their Bohemian finest, with a distinctive piece of viridian plumage in their attire.  If you are a couple, why not submit an entry of both of you together?

This is not a competition of chance, luck or serendipity folks. We want you to dress to impress.  The most impressive outfit will secure the prize to what should be an evening of high glamour.

Send an email with your photo to newlibertines @, including your name, login name, address & phone number (of both parties if photo is of a couple).

Competition closes Friday 3 JULY 2009. The winner will be announced Friday 10 JULY 2009.

Terms and Conditions:

1) Participation in the competition includes full acceptance of these terms and conditions. 2) Competition open only to those 18 years and older who are members of 3) Entrant(s) will be required to verify their identity and that submitted photos are of themselves and not of a third party. 4) Winner(s) will permit the publishing of their name (or requested nom-de-plume) and photo on 5) All Entrant(s) will also permit the publishing of their photos in a gallery of the “Best Dressed”  on  Images will not be used in any other commercial capacity. 6) All photos and personal details will be available to the relevant staff of and the Marionette Management Talent Agency for purposes of judging only. At the completion of the competition all personal details and images will not be retained and will be destroyed, save those of the Winner(s) and selected “Best Dressed” as proof of participation under the above Terms and Conditions. No personal details or images will be shared with any other third parties other than those identified in these Terms and Conditions. 7) Winner(s) will be notified by phone and email.

Posted by Jonathan on Jun 13th 2009 | Filed in Absinthiana,Culture,Events,Fashion,Music,News,Reviews,Style | Comments (0)

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