I am delighted to welcome a guest writer for this article. I first encountered "Habu" online on the Fée Verte forum, and then met Štefan Habulinec in person at the 2009 Absinthe Festival in Boveresse. Štefan has compiled the ultimate Czech resource on real absinthe, www.absinthe-cz.com/, is an administrator on the Czech Absinthe Forum, www.absinthemafia.com, and a moderator on the new Absinthe Review Network forums.
Štefan's report from Prague is especially notable because until recently Prague has been famous - or infamous - as the city to visit to drink Czech absinth. Until recently it would have been difficult to find Czechs actually drinking real absinthe, but thanks to Štefan, Martin Zufanek and others, that is now changing.
I am pleased to present Štefan's account completely unedited (apart from one or two spelling mistakes!):
Absinthe in the Bar Hemingway, Prague.
La Clandestine and friends. :)
"Today, on the 8th of December 2009, in a small bar in the center of Prague, an absinthe introduction took place. It was basically first training-introduction for notable barmen in Prague, including chief of the Czech bartender scene, Alexander Mikšovic. The old crapsinthe myths were taken down and another absinthe landmark in Czech was set!
It was also the premiere for La Clandestine, Mansinthe and La Fée XS to be officially poured in a bar in Prague. St. Antoine included of course. :) All received highly positive results from the audience.
Main speakers - Ondrej Abrahamek (left) and Ales Puta (right)
The lecture was given by two barmen, Ondrej Abrahamek and Ales Puta, with some support of absinthemafia members, Martin Zufanek and Stefan Habulinec. Besides the absinthe history, the main difference between bohemian absinthe and authentic one was also presented, along with the degustation of La Clandestine, La Fée XS, Mansinthe and St. Antoine. Our goal was to put the crapsinthe with absinthe on the same table and compare it by taste, but unfortunately, nobody was interested in that, since the whole degustation was a real treat and there was no need to spoil the evening. Maybe next time we'll be more tough. ;)
Audience was left with the assurance of the next meeting in similar spirit, no pun intended. ;)
Hemingway Bar interiors
Hemingway Bar is now one of the few places in Prague, where you could get some good absinthe along with the correct preparation without a weird stare from the bartender or from the guests. The other ones are Cerna Vdova and Café Jericho (definitely my next bar to visit!), where you could get Kübler.
Burning the sugar is strictly forbidden in these places! :)
Last glass of St. Antoine
Cheers from Prague!"
Na zdraví, Praha!
Thanks and na zdraví, Štefan!
Footnote: the Hemingway Bar offers much more than real absinthe of course. It is a home of "fine mixology and luxury spirits," as can be seen on their own website as well as on Facebook. I look forward to visiting in 2010!