Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Ladies drinking absinthe

I've posted about ladies and absinthe jokingly before, and have also highlighted the more serious role of women in making absinthe.

So it was interesting to discover recently two artistic treatment of women drinking absinthe: from Paris in 1905 and from New Orleans in 2017.

The first of these is probably more interesting!

Gustave Poetzsch was a Swiss artist who lived from 1870 to 1950. Born in Neuchâtel, he moved to Paris to develop his painting skills. His painting of L'Élégante au verre d'absinthe may surprise absinthe historians. It seems to show a fashionable French lady drinking absinthe on her own in a Parisian café or bar. She's drinking from a glass that doesn't look like an absinthe glass and seems to be on her third drink (count the saucers used to help keep count of how many drinks a customer would need to pay for). There seems to be no stigma associated with this: she is indeed an elegant lady. Marie-Claude Delahaye has written in some detail about the painting and the unusual glass. This painting seems, in summary, to debunk the myths about absinthe in Paris at the start of the 20th century: it is a long way from "absinthism."

As the painting debunks myths, so Hollywood continues to spread myths about absinthe. Below I present the "absinthe" sequence from the trailer for Girls Trip. While it may be true that tourists to New Orleans enjoy drinking the Green Fairy in The Old Absinthe House and elsewhere, and some may over-indulge, they do not get the kind of absinthe effects depicted here. The most active ingredient in absinthe is alcohol. Drinking too much absinthe, and hence too much alcohol, does not lead to experiencing anything more remarkable than seeing the sidewalk (pavement) close-up.

This is shared here to show how Hollywood continues to exaggerate the effects of absinthe. Something that reputable absinthe distillers will never do.

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