Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Where can I buy real absinthe?


UPATED 2009 AND 2012 TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT MARKET DEVELOPMENTS

A Master List for the USA. (includes retailers who ship nationwide)

A Master List for the Rest of the World (Canada, Europe, Asia Pacific)

US STORES (INCLUDING ONLINE VENDORS


There are now many real absinthes available in all major cities and most, if not all of the USA. Some European companies not yet selling their products in the USA may falsely claim that absinthe sold in the USA is a watered-down version of absinthe sold in Europe: writing, however, as someone who sells his absinthe across Europe, North America and Asia, I can categorically refute that point. The only significant differences are different labelling and bottle sizes!

For those wanting to buy in the USA and who have problems finding quality absinthes in their town, Drink Up New York and Catskill Cellars provide the best options, both for those in New York City and Upstate NY, and for those shipping to those other States where there are fewer choices. They both allow prospective purchasers to browse by country or by continent of origin, and Drink Up New York also has customer reviews for each of the brands available. General absinthe forum concensus is that Drink Up New York and Catskill offer the highest quality ranges in the USA, with only one artificially coloured absinthe and no pre-sweetened absinthe in these two stores.


Astor Wine and Spirits (photo immediately above) in Manhattan probably has the best range available to downtown Manhattan shoppers.

On the West Coast, BEVMO offers a wider selection in more stores than anyone else, as well as on-line through several Western States, including California and Arizona. In the past some may have commented that their selection is weaker on quality than on quantity, but now that they have exhausted stocks of some of the more notorious lower quality absinthes (e.g. Le Tourment Vert), there are clear signs that they are upgrading their selection.

In New England, Julio's Liquors, Westborough and Yankee Spirits, Sturbridge both have a big selection, while closer in to Boston several branches of Kappy's as well as Menotomy Wine have a good, more focused selection.

In Kentucky, Party Source is definitely the go-to resource for absinthes.

US BARS

Probably the best US bar for absinthe is Brooklyn's Maison Premiere with more than 25 high quality absinthes served the classic way and a great absinthe cocktail list. Other top bars for absinthe in New York include the famous PDT and the much less well-known William Barnacle, both in St. Marks's Place, Manhattan, the Swiss-owned Trestle on Tenth, while further uptown L'Absinthe Restaurant and Pigalle are well worth a visit.

In California, Los Angeles and San Francisco both have some great absinthe bars. In the former the Edison Downtown, the Onyx Lounge and Seventy7 Culver City all have a very good selection. In San Francisco, visit Dixie.

In Boston, the ArtBar at the Royal Sonesta leads the way, while the Seaport Hotel, Craigie on Main, and Blue Inc are among the best in their respective areas.

Elsewhere, we love the Chinatown Coffee Company in Washington DC (wouldn't it be great if Starbucks offered absinthe in every outlet!), the Bitter Bar and Absinthe House in Boulder, Colorado, 4 Olives in Kansas, Peché in Austin, Texas, and Cure in New Orleans. On the subject of New Orleans, the Old Absinthe House is a must-try, although there have been reports that they try to burn absinthe. Tell them not to!

There is a more up-to-date list of US stores and bars stocking La Clandestine and other good absinthes here.

CANADA

Premier in Halifax, Nova Scotia offer the best selection in the Eastern seaboard provinces. And now, the SAQ offers Quebec consumers a choice of La Clandestine, Kübler and Taboo absinthes: the first time Canadians have had such a wide quality choice. And, as of February 2013, the LCBO offers Lucid, Vieux Pontarlier and La Clandestine!

BARS IN CANADA

Dieu du Ciel, Sarah B at the Inter-continental, Le Lab and L'Assommoir are among the best in Montreal. Clive's Classic Lounge is one of the best in BC.

SHOPS AND BARS IN EUROPE

There are many shops and bars across Europe selling just one or two absinthes. Knowing that my readers might want the opportunity to talk to well-informed shop staff, the opportunity in some cases to sample some absinthe, and a broader selection of absinthes, then I have listed shops which satisfy those criteria.

UK

London:
Soho Wine.
Gerry's.
Vintage House.
Bar Nightjar, London: probably the biggest and best range in the UK. Served the classic way and in several amazing cocktails!
Purl, London.
Brompton Bar and Grill, London
Montgomery Place, London
Worship Street Whistling Shop
Dach and Sons
Zetter Town House

Outside London:
The Larderhouse, Bournemouth
Haus Bar, Bristol
12a Cambridge
Bond No. 9, Edinburgh.
The Moorings Bar, Aberdeen.

FRANCE
Paris:
Vert D'Absinthe.
Caves du Roy.
Cantada 11.

Colmar:
Absinthe Bar, L'Entreacte

Marseille:
Maison du Pastis.

Antibes:
Antibes Absinthe Bar

SWITZERLAND

Val-de-Travers:
Fleur-Bleue.
Absinthe Bar, Fleurier.
Chapeau de Napoléon, Saint-Sulpice.
Neuchâtel: Au Fin Palais. A good selection of beers too!

Elsewhere:
Die Grune Fee, Solothurn.


GERMANY
Heidelberg: Grüner Engel.
Berlin: Absinth Depot.
Leipzig: Sixtina and La Petite Absintherie.

NETHERLANDS

Amsterdam:
Boorsma.
Overmars.
Tunes at the Conservatorium, Amsterdam

SPAIN
Barcelona: Spirits Corner (shop as well as internet supplier).

PORTUGAL

Lisbon: Garrafeira Nacional

CZECH REPUBLIC
Absintherie, Prague.
Black Angels Bar, Prague.
Hemingway, Prague
Red Rabbit Bar, Prague

DENMARK

Bliss, Copenhagen.

BELGIUM

Floris Bar, Brussels

ITALY

Cimiteria Horror Pub

In some of the European shops and bars (notably those outside France and Switerland), there are also a number of novelty items stocked. However all these retailers are well-informed: tell them you want to buy real absinthe, and they will know what you mean.

EUROPEAN INTERNET SHOPS

There are good vendor guides on both the Wormwood Society and on Fée Verte, which are the two pre-eminent absinthe resources on the internet.

Both these sites recommend absinthe-suisse.com, as well as Liqueurs de France.

Spirits Corner is also listed on both sites, although the Wormwood Society adds a comment to "Avoid the novelty products, such as mandrake liquor and cannabis absinthe." In fact, there are signs that Spirits Corner is adapting to the market and is increasingly focusing on higher quality, real absinthe brands. When I re-checked this on April 19th, 2007, I couldn't find any Czech "absinth" on Spirits Corner.

Fée Verte also lists Absinthe Classics (a good source which focuses on higher quality real absinthe).

Neither of the main absinthe information sites list the many selling sites that are heavily focused on Czech products. Generally if a site is focused on thujone content, it's a warning sign!

UPDATE JANUARY 2010

There are several newer online shops in Europe, notably Absinthes.com. Read about Absinthes.com's revolutionary Absinthexplore offerings here.

BARS IN ASIA PACIFIC

MALAYSIA

Skybar, KL

JAPAN

Tokyo:
Bar Tram and Bar Trench.

HONG KONG

The Blck Brd.

CAMBODIA

L'Absinthe Bar, Phnom Penh.

SINGAPORE

Absinthe Artisan

AUSTRALIA

Absinthe Salon, Sydney

ELSEWHERE ...

Guatemala: Bistrot Cinq!
Estonia: Lai V Bar.

ABSINTHE ACCESSORIES

I'm also asked about where to buy Absinthe Accessories and Absinthe Devil offers Americans a very wide selection available in the USA, and thus without high postage bills.

27 comments:

Tracey said...

Thankyou for your comment, and yeah, absinthe gives you one HELL of a headache in the morning. Gah, the horrible memories that associated that experience will haunt me for years to come. LOL. As for the type of absinthe, I don't really recall. One of the side affects of being well and truly off your face. I'm from a very rural part of Victoria, and within walking distance of five winery's actually. I'm glad you enjoyed your experiences here. Keep in touch, I very much enjoyed reading your blog. X

Chuck said...

Thanks for the comment.I enjoyed your blog it was very informative.

salsa said...

Excellent list, Alan, thanks! I added (most of) these places to the Google map I'm putting together.

Firdaus said...

hey there.... i wanted to ask. on the absinthe suisse website they have an option to send absinthe into singapore. would the bottle be allowed past singapore customs?

Alan said...

Hi firdaus,

Singapore can be a bit tricky and you might be asked to pay big duties when it arrives. Send me an email to alan.moss@gmail.com and I'll send you a more detailed reply with alternative options ...

Rene said...

I was wondering, but how come, nowhere on this, nonetheless fantastic blog, it was possible for me to find any subject concerning Dutch distilled absinthe. Let me be clear about one thing I’m not acting as a shill, I’m just an absinthe enthusiast, enjoying PF 1901, Kübler, Libertine, Duplais and Guy as wel as fine Dutch products, viz. Absinthe Helfrich and Rijneveen’s van Waters en Kroeze.

Guess I’m the first who noticed, so therefore this comment.
I just couldn’t leave this unmentioned

Rene said...

I was wondering, but how come, nowhere on this, nonetheless fantastic blog, it was possible for me to find any subject concerning Dutch distilled absinthe. Let me be clear about one thing I’m not acting as a shill, I’m just an absinthe enthusiast, enjoying PF 1901, Kübler, Libertine, Duplais and Guy as wel as fine Dutch products, viz. Absinthe Helfrich and Rijneveen’s van Waters en Kroeze.

Guess I’m the first who noticed, so therefore this comment.
I just couldn’t leave this unmentioned

Alan said...

Hi Rene,

Interesting. I tend to write about absinthes I see and in all my travels I haven't seen these. I haven't been to Netherlands since early 2007 so maybe that's a factor.

However: search the blog for "Helfrich" and you will find two references to the man behind the absinthe.

Not much, I admit. I'll see what I can do in future.

Thanks for your comment!

Rene said...

Hi Alan,

Well next time you visit the Netherlands, make sure you don't miss out on it, they're worth a try.
In parenthesis, Absinthe Helfrich is also available at Verte d'Absinthe in Paris, France,
Van Water en Kroeze, just in Dordrecht.

Cheers.

- and sorry for the double posts earlier -

Anonymous said...

Another great place in the US to find absinthe accessories is Absinthe On The Net. They have great prices on fountain sets and will build a custom set for you if you ask.

Jens said...

Hi there,

I would like to drop a short note on the absinthe society especially in the usa.
As an absinthe vendor with some years of experience I would like to state that the forums are not indepedent and that there is a major business interest behind it. I had some special offers in the past with some high value absinthes at prices that were about 10€/bottle lower than in general.
I have all satisfied customers and you won't find anyone who has confessed to be impatient, but people have in mind to never-ever buy anywhere else than the vendors recommended in the big boards.
I want to encourage to see the whole internet absinthe community with some critical distance and have in mind that it is not independent and not without own business purposes. For buyers, it can be gainful to do own investigations and watch out for foreign discussions in a less commercial environment..
Cheers,
Jens

Alan said...

Jens,

You write "I would like to drop a short note on the absinthe society especially in the usa. As an absinthe vendor with some years of experience I would like to state that the forums are not indepedent and that there is a major business interest behind it."

Are you suggesting that the US forums are not to be trusted because of business interests that they may have? If so, I don't really agree with your comment.

Let's consider the 3 US forums one-by-one (I exclude Fee Verte because you specifically refer to the USA and Fée Verte is run out of the UK).

1. The Absinthe Review Network Forums: no business interest behind it.

2. Wormwood Society: yes, Gwydion owns the Marteau brand as well as the Society/Forum. But I don't believe that this has any impact at all on the internet shops recommended by the Wormwood Society (most of which do not sell Marteau).

3. Louched Lounge: no business interest behind it!

So what's the problem?

Jens said...

Hi Alan,

it is no problem, just what I think to have noticed.
I had my experiences and don't want to go deeper into details, just want to keep Bens forum out of it, I know Ben as a person with no jaundices who tries out for himself. That is what many other don't do because of some influences and kind of dogmata they learned to follow.
I tried to register in a major forum some years ago, and did several tries. They did not allow me to register with my real identity, and I found some relations to other vendors.
I tried to contact via email, but got no answer. That is obvious, it's run by competitors.

Cheers,
Jens

Alan said...

Jens,

You write "I tried to register in a major forum some years ago, and did several tries. They did not allow me to register with my real identity, and I found some relations to other vendors.
I tried to contact via email, but got no answer. That is obvious, it's run by competitors."

Which forum is this? If you are sure of yourself and your position, you should be open. If you make a comment like this, then no-one knows what you are talking about and they might think that all forums are bad. Let's have a proper discussion about this, without making subtle hints and innuendoes!

Jens said...

I don't want to accuse anyone here or drop names.
It is a general appeal to use as many different sources as possible for your information.
I wantes to share my individual point of view, don't try to find out which forums are meant by this or that statement, I did not do research about UK or US location of the boards, so the statement is inaccurate and leads to wrong conclusions.
Take it as a general appeal only please.

Brian Robinson said...

Jens,

I don't mean to be confrontational, but I take exception to your accusations about the absinthe forums not being unbiased, and being commercially interested.

If we look at the WS, you can find plenty of people who use vendors other than the recommended vendors on our main site. So that accusation is false.

Also, if we look at the specific vendors that are recommended on the page:

1 is based in the US
1 is based in Canada
5 are based in Europe
1 is based in Australia

Can you really make the argument that our forum is solely interested in getting business for certain members, since all of the ones you've complained about are US based?

Also, your accusation that the Society has financial interest in only supporting brands made in the US or by Advisory Board members doesn't hold up to the facts. SIX of the top ten rated absinthes in the review section can only be bought through online vendors in Europe.

Any other unfounded accusations you'd like to level against the US online forums (which obviously is singling out the WS since you say you have no problem with Ben's forum)?

The reason you were treated harshly at the WS was due to your adherence to pushing product based on thujone. It totally goes against the principals of the WS, ergo, you'll find some push back against that tactic.

Anonymous said...

"against the principals of the WS"

Principal? There is only one principal (as Alan confirms above) and that is Mr Stone. Do you mean against the financial interests of the principal? or was your skool in a trailer park, Malaprop?

Alan said...

Thanks, anonymous, for your incisive contribution to the debate.

Long time, no see. How goes it?

Brian Robinson said...

Anon, you make no sense. All of my points above show how little knowledge you have in the subject.

Tell us who you are, and maybe we'll talk. If you don't have the confidence to show your name, go away.

Brian Robinson said...

Alan, might as well nickname him Tim. ;)

absinthe fairy said...

Thanks for the review, it is quite in depth compared to other sites that seem to recommend one type of absinthe (like www.BuyAbsintheUSA.com)

Marijke said...

Concerning Absinthe bars in Europe, you can add The Sixtina Bar in Leibzig/Germany to the list. I visited this bar on a previous holiday. It's the ultimate absinthe bar :-)!

http://www.sixtina.net

Alan said...

Thank you, Marijke.

I can't see details of the range stocked at Sixtina. There's another amazing absinthe bar in Leipzig:

http://bit.ly/8ib8kQ

which lists 84 absinthes/absinths!

Marijke said...

Thanks! I'll check that one out next time when I'm in Leipzig :-).

As for the range of Absinthes they have in the Sixtina, someone took a picture of the list but it's hard to read because it's so small :-(.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/motodraconis/3592096827/

Alan said...

Thanks for the picture, Marijke.

Sixtina's list is bigger, but much more focused on German and Czech absinths. There was a clue to this on their home page with the burning absinthe photo.

The other bar (La Petite Absintherie) is much more focused on what I would call "real absinthe." They even have some good absinthes from the USA.

Penumbra said...

I live in Atlanta and there is a fantastic place in Toco Hills called Toco Giant Package store. I've bought some great absinthes there, most recently a nice bottle of Vieux Carre. Also, Green's has a good selection, and there is usually good absinthe at Apres Diem in Midtown.

Alan said...

Thanks, Penumbra. I need to update this page again. I have a couple of trips to the USA planned for later this year and will update after that.