Category Archives: Czech Absinth

Lada, Hašek and Kontušovka

Josef Lada, “Sváteční hospoda“, 1932

Christmas has come early! An exhibition of the works of Josef Lada (15 November-3 February, Municipal House, Prague) With “a visual perspective ..praised by Picasso” this great Czech artist is a real treat. Josef is probably best known as the illustrator of Hašek’s The Good Soldier Švejk. Czech absinth drinkers might be interested in this note:

Charmed by Lipnice, then a community of 800 people, perched idyllically up on a hill with its 14th century castle slumped and crumbling above the gently winding Sázava River, Hašek entered merrily into village life. He enjoyed nothing more than treks through the surrounding farmland, woods and villages, or annoying the local women by dragging their menfolk to the pub, where he would stand to read completed sections of text to his audience, dictating new sections to a more sober writer. Sometimes he would simply play cards, albeit for sums of money way beyond his means. He drank copiously at the bar, chasing the locally produced beer, Lipnicée Lezák, with rum, slivovice and kontušovka; an aniseed based liquor, similar to absinthe. At the end of the evening, the wild writer had only a couple of flights of stairs to negotiate before bed.

 

🙂

Kontušovka

Absinthe Recipe

Kupka “Great Nude” 1909

Josef Archleb (1843 – 1913) founded a famous liquor distillery in Dobruška (a small town in the Hradec Králové Region of the Czech Republic) in 1865. He was the patron of several artists, including Frantisek Kupka, the pioneer of the early abstract art movement and orphic cubism. The painting above is Kupka’s Planes by Colours or Great Nude, circa 1909. Below you will find the Dobruška absinthe recipe.

1. Base

Grande Wormwood : 6 750 g
Pure alcohol 96% : 50 000 ccm
Water : 35 000 ccm

2. Distillate

Anise seed : 9 600 g
Star anise : 400 g
Cinammon :135 g
Grande Wormwood : 1 070 g
Hyssop : 3 210 g
Mace : 67 g
Pure alcohol 96% : 3 000 ccm
Water : 10 000 ccm

Then it is distilled

3. To make absinthe

Base as per point 1 : 60 000 ccm
This much of distillate as 2 : 4 000 ccm
Pure alcohol 96% : 30 000 ccm
Water : 8 000 ccm
Sugar syrup : 2 000 ccm

To be coloured for a light green colour.

Josef Archleb

Absinthe in a can – Fairy Bomb!

Green Fairy Bomb

Trendy nightclubers can now get a refreshing blast of real Czech absinth in a handy form! There are many Czech absinthe cocktails that mix energy drinks and absinthe, and now that refreshing buzz is available as the Fairy Bomb.

Looks like fun 🙂

Absinthe Muse in Summer

Summertime is Reality time – this stunning Czech absinth is just perfect on the rocks – watch it melt to a cool lime white louche, and then enjoy the herbal intensity of this 100% natural Czech product.

Remember Muse in an Absinthe Tank and the Reality Absinth Poster? The Bairnsfather Absinth poster girl is back by popular demand – and this time in cool summer apparel.

Stunning! rather like Reality Absinth, with it’s 35mg thujone content, expertly filtered from the finest wormwood. Anyone care to guess what the plant in picture two is? Want to taste some in all it’s pure glory? You need to know where to look! As the saying goes it’s “as rare as hen’s teeth“, with the production being bought up as fast as the hand finished bottles leave the family distillery.

Bairnsfather Reality is currently available in very few places in Prague (write to me and I’ll tell you where) and only via a few selected absinthe webshops. Prague wine bars are starting to serve burcak, and that means autumn is coming! Will there be an Absinthe Muse in Autumn? I hope so 🙂

Absinth Bairnsfather

Absinth Bairnsfather

 

Bairnsfather

 

Czech Absinth Haters

Prague 1968

The Brave Students of Prague in 1968

Compare this picture with these words posted from Amsterdam in 2007

During the Prague Spring of 1968, absinthe was popular among students and jazz fans. Old Czech jazz musicians still recall all-night, absinthe-fuelled jam sessions during those heady months. When the Soviet tanks rolled into Prague, an unknown student, holed up in a bar and lacking the means to make a petrol bomb, remembered the high alcohol content of a local brand of absinthe. He quickly improvised a Molotov Cocktail from a bottle and a tea towel and hurled it into action against an onrushing Uncle Joe. The tank crew escaped the resulting inferno, but only barely. The flaming sugar cube atop a Czech absinthe is really a homage to the brave unknown student, but foreign tourists don’t care, so bartenders just tell them it’s how the French used to drink it. Absinthe connoisseurs maintain that the best way to serve Czech absinthe is in the original manner. If no enemy tank is handy, the side of a building or a nearby bridge abutment will do. Any method that doesn’t involve drinking the stuff is fine.

This deeply stupid pack of lies, which is allegedly from correspondence with the BBC in London, appears on a web forum called FeeVerte.net. This invented story is also very offensive, as it is a nasty perversion of a real historic event. It seems that nothing is sacred in the minds of the warmongers who spit their poison at this ancient city.

In 5 days time it will be the 39th anniversary of the Soviet invasion, and the end of the Prague Spring.

Prague 1968

Source: Labadie Collection of Social Protest Material

Absinthe Hallucinations?

Zizkov Tower

Žižkov Television Tower

They say the famous crawling babies – on the Prague televsion tower – will start to move if you drink too much Czech absinth! Prague is full of summertime revellers right now, and the strong Czech absinth is flowing like mountain streams during the spring melt.

After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.

– Oscar Wilde on Absinthe

A word of caution from Auckland film maker James Blick

The hostel I am staying in, however, is neither magnificent nor regal. I went for the cheap dorm option, along with teams of drunk Irishmen on some sort of alcohol-fuelled “weekend-getaway” package. I seem to be the only one in my dorm who is not in Prague for the cheap beer or absinthe, and so sleeping has not been easy as highly intoxicated Irishmen stumble in at all hours, laughing and knocking over heavy things. The guy who sleeps above me came in at six this morning so drunk on absinthe that he was hallucinating and rolling around all morning.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/4120055a20517.html

The tale ends with the sight of Italian handcuffed to his bunk and a nine-millimeter revolver! The spirit of Alfred Jarry lives on 😉

Update: Apparently the Green Fairy takes her summer vacations in Portugal:

From Stuart Cullen <stuartcullen.hotmail.com>

Just a little extra info from an experienced Absinthe drinker. I have drunk three different types of absinthe (two Portugese [50% and 58% alcohol by volume] and One Czech [55% by volume]) on innumerable occasions — usually 4+ European shots a night.

In Portugal, to get its most extreme effect I was told to add sugar to the shot, light the absinthe, blow it out, drink it through a straw, cup my hand over the glass and inhale as much of the fumes as I could. I am sure this would be potent with any alcoholic drink. I have drunk stronger vodka [63% by volume] yet it has never had the effect of absinthe.

I have experienced one ‘hallucination’ — I was once positively sure that a girl was dancing beside me for several minutes when there was no-one there.

Prague Night with Absinth 1943

Hitler at Prague Castle

Adolf Hitler at Prague Castle

Here’s a delightful lost quote about absinth drinking from the evil days of the Nazi occupation of Bohemia.

Poručil jsem si dvojitou sklenku absintu, který právě je v módě. Je to takový zelený dryák. Jako rozpuštěné ještěrky. A vypil jsem to do dna. Potom mi bylo dobre.

I ordered a double glass of absinthe which is in fashion right now.  It’s a kind of green “dryák”. Like dissolved lizards.  I drunk it all. Then I felt good.

Pražské nokturno – Page 310
by František Kubka ( 1943)

Like dissolved lizards 🙂 Note: “dryák” means something like a cure for all diseases, or something bearing a medicinal quality. The word is ancient and relates to a curative potion sold in the Middle Ages and made from 54 types of herbs.

One cannot help wondering where that fashionable absinth – enjoyed by drinkers in Praha circa 1943 – came from.  Any ideas?