Monthly Archives: March 2007

Absinthe Czech Method


Czech absinthe in the news:

If you want to see how drugs and alcohol breed artistic genius, take a glance at Manet, Van Gogh and Picassos;—the artists who gave absinthe its modern notoriety as a mysterious elixir that left lonely men dreaming of bright colors in drab pubs.

For Georgetown’s wannabe European student body, the allure of the drink lives on. What could be better than a flaming green shot of lyric-inducing liquor?

The classic way to prepare it is to place a spoon with a sugar cube on the rim of a shot of absinthe and then dribble ice-cold water over the sugar so that the dark green liquor below turns a mint shade.

The Czech method is more dramatic, if uncomfortably similar to the behavior of a heroin addict: dip the sugar cube in the liquor and then set it alight on a spoon. Let the sugar burn for a minute and then drop it into the glass.

Full Article available here (The George Town Voice)

Strong Absinthe!

Is Czech absinth strong? Can be, so be careful.

The method of making absinth in the Czech Republic is sometimes different. Likérka Cami of Dobronice u Bechyně produce a great blanche absinthe named Tolouse Lautrec Absinthe, but the herbal maceration is what the Bohemian brand is famous for. Kyle Bairnsfather who produces Reality Absinth & Bairnsfather Bitter (Sdružení pro výrobu a odbyt likérů s.r.o) has described to the Prague Post his method of filtration for processing the macerate. This process removes the solid herbs, but leaves the herbal qualities in place. Anyone who has enjoyed a glass of iced Reality will know what Kyle means! Here’s a glimpse of what you are missing:

Reality Absinth

You’ll see the herb in place in the bottle. So what about the thujone? Well, according to the Kyle: “the alcohol content is 60%, the thujone level is 26 mg/kg, and the addition of the stalks of three herbs into the bottle provides a more aromatic flavour and a more complex tastes”

Strong & Recommended.

Greek Gods – Greek Absinthe!

Fascinating news from Greece!


Ancient Greek Gods still revered on Mount Olympus

Worshippers who believe in the 12 gods of ancient Greece have been celebrating their faith on Mount Olympus. But it was a service which was highly contentious. A court, last year, granted official recognition of the group and their revived religion, despite vigorous opposition from the highly conservative Greek Orthodox Church which dismisses the group as merely pagan. At the heart of the faith is a belief in Zeus and 11 other gods. Many of its members appear to be elderly academics, lawyers and other professionals.

One of its leaders, Doretta Pappa is a writer and calls herself a “high priestess”. She says the group has over 400,000 members but, due to opposition, they have, until now, been forced to worship in secret. Officials of the Orthodox Church have described the followers of the “Olympic gods” as resuscitators of a degenerate, dead religion. But Doretta Pappa and her members are pushing for the same rights as the Druids have in Britain, who worship at the ancient monument of Stonehenge. (Euronews)

Can anyone guess who wrote this:

“it was a bar with a few rooms over it, kept by a Greek, smelling of hot oil and garlic and stale wine and old clothes, a place where the small Greek traders came and played draughts and listened to the wireless. He stayed there a month drinking Greek absinthe, occasionally wandering out, they didn’t know where, coming back and drinking again.”

Absinthe History?


Rudolf II (Holy Roman Emperor) painted as Vertumnus, Roman God of the seasons, c.1590-1


Did Absinthe start life in Prague in the 1500s? This article in an respected Australian newspaper seems to suggest that it did.

Absinthe: “The drink’s origins are disputed: wormwood distillations started in Bohemia (the Czech Republic) in the 1500s, but they appeared in France and Switzerland around the 1750s. Modern absinthe dates from 1792, when Dr Pierre Ordinaire commercialised it as a cure-all. Then Henri-Louis Pernod founded the Pernod Fils absinthe company in 1805, seeing its aperitif potential. Absinthe’s moment came with the 1840s Algerian wars, when French soldiers drank it as a prophylactic against disease. They brought it home, and by the 1860s Parisian cafes had established 5pm as l’heure verte – “the green hour”.

Source: Bohemian Green by Felicity Carter, The Age

One interesting possibility is that wormwood distillation began under Rudolph II, The Holy Roman Emperor. Rudoplh’s reign (1552-1612) was marked by a scientific revolution in the Bohemian lands (now Czech Republic). Rudolf was fascinated by the subjects of alchemy and science and attracted the greatest minds – along with their stills – to Prague. Names like John Dee and Edward Kelley may not mean much today, but they were the leading alchemists of the age. Rudolph himself maintained an extensive laboratory.

Absinthe Aphrodisiac

Absinthe Aphrodisiac

Interestingly, those that think thujone – the allegedly pyschoactive ingredient in absinthe – was the only reason for the prohibition of absinthe, should think again. It was also about love!

End of a Dynasty

War has not been kind to the descendants of Henri-Louis Pernod, that Frenchman who in 1797 gave to the world the aperitif known as absinthe. Henri-Louis used the formula of a Dr. Ordinaire, who was celebrated up & down the Alps for cures effected with mountain herbs. One of these herbs was wormwood, an excellent stomachic, which by the time of World War I had also acquired a reputation as an aphrodisiac, thereby helping to enrich the firm of Pernod Fils, leading manufacturer of absinthe. In 1914 the publisher of a small Paris newspaper started a campaign to prohibit absinthe, based on the popular beliefs that: 1) wormwood is an aphrodisiac; 2) continued use of aphrodisiacs produces impotence; 3) France is a nation of absinthe sippers; 4) therefore France as a nation is becoming impotent. Frenchmen’s mortal fear of impotence, coupled with war hysteria and a falling birth rate, put the campaign over with a bang. Absinthe was banned in France on March 16, 1915. Pernod continued to make absinthe in Tarragona, Spain, but few countries allowed its consumption.

After the war another member of the Pernod dynasty, Jules, whose firm was called Pernod Pere et Fils, concocted an aperitif that tasted much like absinthe but was less bitter, contained no wormwood. This he called Pernod Anise. In 1920 a M. André Hémard produced a something that could scarcely be distinguished from Pernod Anise and called it L’Amourette. Frenchmen took to it delightedly. By 1928 the original firm of Pernod Fils was back in the business, and all three makers of wormwoodless absinthe were united in the Société des Etablissements Pernod. Their product was known in bars from Marseille to Singapore simply as Pernod. In 1938 Société des Etablissements Pernod paid its sixth consecutive 100% dividend, sold an estimated 15,000,000 bottles. Despite the absence of wormwood the French birth rate fell all through the ’20s and ’30s.

Last week France’s Vichy Government banned Pernod and all other aperitifs containing more than 16% alcohol.* Alleged reason: Pernod caused men & women to quarrel and get nervous disorders, instead of becoming loving parents.

*Automatically banning them in the U. S., which forbids the importation of alcoholic beverages prohibited in the country where they are made.

Time Magazine, Monday, Sep. 02, 1940

Absintheur’s Question. Who said: “Absinthe is the aphrodisiac of the self. The green fairy who lives in the absinthe wants your soul. But you are safe with me.” ?

New Czech Bohemians


Czechs Raise New Generation of Bohemians

PRAGUE (Reuters) – The Bohemians are back. A new generation of Czechs who grew up in democracy have the freedom and wealth to lead hedonistic lives barely dreamt of by their parents under nearly five decades of communist rule.

“I want to experience as much as I can at this age,” said Jan Skuta, a 21-year old student, peering through the smoky haze in a bar in Prague’s ancient centre.

The Czech Republic once comprised most of Bohemia, and the term Bohemian became synonymous with a socially unconventional lifestyle that many are heartily resurrecting in the post-Communist era.

Absinthe, the green spirit once widely banned for its suspected hallucinatory effects, is available at almost every bar. Fashion runs the gamut from ultra mini-skirts to bell bottoms and from designer jeans to army fatigues as bar-hoppers track trends.

Full Article: Reuters

Czech Absinth – Cafe Slavia


Absinth Slavia



Hillary Clinton at Cafe Slavia 1998


Czech artist Viktor Oliva’s “The Absinthe Drinker” (Buveur d’absinthe) which hangs in Prague’s famous Cafe Slavia on Narodni Street.

Accompanied by Czech President Vaclav Havel and his wife, Dagmar, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton stopped briefly Tuesday in the Slavia Kavarna, Havel’s favorite hangout in his dissident years, for a glass of absinthe. Young people watching the presidential motorcade in the street were largely indifferent to Clinton’s visit, but others inside the cafe were appreciative. “She is a very intelligent lady and she has a lot to say to the world.’
–Published on October 14, 1998, Page 4A, St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)

Bill Clinton also visited the U zlatého tygra (At the Golden Tiger), a typical Bohemian pub, and played the saxophone at the wonderfully atmospheric Reduta Jazz Club.

A short distance from the Reduta is an important place in Czech and world history but sadly many tourists seem to walk by without noticing. This is the spot where riot police attacked a peaceful student demonstration on Narodni trida in 1989; the brutal police attack was the event that started the Velvet Revolution. Here is the moving memorial to the bravery shown during the end of those dark days: