I'll be the first to admit that the UK is not the world's best country for those who love good absinthe. Which is strange given that absinthe was never banned in the UK and that the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book
has 104 absinthe cocktails (and only one vodka cocktail). Where were they getting all their absinthe from, given the bans in France and Switzerland 15 and 20 years previously?
The UK was, of course, one of the first countries to sell Hill's absinth (1998) and French absinthe (2000). But whereas many liquor stores and bars in the US now sell several absinthes (there are 18 at Drink Up New York and I am aware of a US bar with over 20 lines), the UK situation is very different. UK supermarkets, previously the main UK channel for absinthes, do not now sell any absinthe and one of the main UK-based online retailers for absinthe has cut its range from over 70 to around 10. Some "absinthes" can now be found at levels of 38% and 40% alcohol content, levels which may keep the price down and make the products more accessible to a wider audience, but which don't fit the traditional definition of absinthe and which may encourage "binge drinking." The fact that Bohemian-style absinth was the first entrant into the UK may also have led too many people to burn real absinthe: a waste of most distillers' fine products and creating an image for absinthe that will not help the long-term prospects of the category. Real absinthe is NOT FOR BURNING!
If the supply and availability of absinthe in the UK is to improve, then what is needed now is education, bar-by-bar, shop-by-shop, and in the drinks press. Education to communicate what absinthe is, and how it can be enjoyed. So I was delighted to have been given the chance to speak at Bibulous,
a major consumer and trade show devoted to fine spirits in London later this month. Here's some information about the show from the organisers:
"Bibulous is a tasting party and shopping event with a difference; all at a ticket price that costs less than many a night in a bar. Come after work, or plan it into a day of gourmet grazing at the historic and lively Borough Market nearby.
If you are a fan of fine spirits and are cocktail curious, Bibulous is a must. It takes place on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 November 2009 over four show times. Hosted in the atmospheric Great Halls of Vinopolis, it is a boutique-style show, worlds away from mass exhibitions or what you might see on the high street.
Two show times each day 1.30 to 5.30pm and 6 to 9.30pm.
Venue: Great Halls of Vinopolis, Stoney Street, Borough Market, London SE1 9BU. Tube/train: London Bridge
Entry by ticket £16, or £25 for a pair, includes Bibulous tasters. Over 18s only. Tickets via www.showbibulous.com and www.seetickets.com."
I am pleased to announce that The Real Absinthe Blog is offering 1 pair of complimentary tickets to the Bibulous show time on Friday 27 November 1.30 to 5.30pm. Send your name by 10 November to firstname.lastname@example.org, including "Real Absinthe" in the email title. One name will be drawn.
I look forward to mixing with some of my UK readers at this excellent show.