Tuesday, 27 March 2007
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.
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.
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.
Bar Nightjar, London: probably the biggest and best range in the UK. Served the classic way and in several amazing cocktails!
Brompton Bar and Grill, London
Montgomery Place, London
Worship Street Whistling Shop
Dach and Sons
Zetter Town House
The Larderhouse, Bournemouth
Haus Bar, Bristol
Bond No. 9, Edinburgh.
The Moorings Bar, Aberdeen.
Caves du Roy.
Absinthe Bar, L'Entreacte
Maison du Pastis.
Antibes Absinthe Bar
Absinthe Bar, Fleurier.
Chapeau de Napoléon, Saint-Sulpice.
Neuchâtel: Au Fin Palais. A good selection of beers too!
Die Grune Fee, Solothurn.
Heidelberg: Grüner Engel.
Berlin: Absinth Depot.
Leipzig: Sixtina and La Petite Absintherie.
Tunes at the Conservatorium, Amsterdam
Barcelona: Spirits Corner (shop as well as internet supplier).
Lisbon: Garrafeira Nacional
Black Angels Bar, Prague.
Red Rabbit Bar, Prague
Floris Bar, Brussels
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
Bar Tram and Bar Trench.
The Blck Brd.
L'Absinthe Bar, Phnom Penh.
Absinthe Salon, Sydney
Guatemala: Bistrot Cinq!
Estonia: Lai V Bar.
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.