Where To Try Absinthe In London. Hello everyone, I hope you are well. In today’s post, I will be sharing a guest post from London’s leading absinthe experts, Allison Crawbuck and Rhys Everett, co-founders of The Absinthe Parlour. They will explore five of the best places to drink Absinthe in London. Absinthe is a spirit of mystery and legend. An intoxicating muse to creative minds of the Belle Époque, its influence is immortalised in the art and literature of famous absinthe drinkers such as Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, Toulouse Lautrec, and Vincent Van Gogh.
After stirring up rumours of hallucinations and madness, absinthe’s wicked reputation eventually led to a nearly century-long ban in numerous countries worldwide. But in the UK, it is seeing a revival, attracting a new generation of curious imbibers and mixologists in London with some of the city’s most awarded bars experimenting with different serving styles to showcase Absinthe’s versatility in cocktails.
Where To Try Absinthe In London
Absinthe has always been an essential part of cocktail making. It has been celebrated for nearly two centuries for its ability to amplify other spirits’ nuances when mixed in cocktails. Bartenders traditionally used absinthe as you would cocktail bitters, adding a few dashes as seasoning to lift the flavours of a recipe. Today, bartenders fully embrace absinthe and allow it to shine as a base spirit in cocktails. It is so versatile and works incredibly well with such an array of other flavours.
Myths of blindness, hallucinogenic properties and being poisonous, even linked to madness, and absinthe’s ‘wicked’ reputation eventually led to a nearly century-long ban in many countries worldwide. However, the UK never got around to banning the spirit. This has allowed Absinthe to leave its illustrious mark on many of the great classic cocktails in London. The iconic Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) uses absinthe in over 100 recipes, and the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book (1937) calls for it in nearly 40 more.
The ritual of preparing a glass of absinthe with a fountain (ornate glass and metal objects used to dispense water, not alcohol) dates back to the Belle Epoque. It is a spirit that’s always been linked with decadence and creativity, with its influence immortalised in the art and literature of famous absinthe drinkers such as Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, Toulouse Lautrec, and Vincent Van Gogh.
While the legends surrounding the spirit’s past draw many people to it initially, there has been a shift in focus towards the exciting new possibilities on Absinthe’s horizon. Today, some of the world’s best bars and bartenders are experimenting with using absinthe. There’s always been a bottle of absinthe on nearly every back bar. It was just a matter of time before the hospitality industry started looking for new ways to serve it.
Today, the botanical spirit continues to inspire a new generation of curious imbibers and mixologists in London, with the city’s most awarded bars experimenting with different serving styles tabsinthe’s absinthe’s versatility in cocktails.
Modern science finally caught up and disproved the 19th-century theories that prohibited this once-illicit liquor. And today, Absinthe is making its comeback as a botanical spirit with rich connections to creativity and quality. Discover the brilliantly bittersweet and bold flavour of absinthe at these London bars.
Green Bar at Hotel Café Royal – Hotel Café Royal, 10 Air St, London W1B 5AB
There is no more traditional setting in London to sipping on a glass of absinthe than the Green Bar at Hotel Café Royal. Opened in 1865, the Café Royal soon became a meeting place in the heart of London for bohemian intellects and bon viveurs to assemble with a glass of absinthe in hand as they discussed the world around them. Oscar Wilde, a frequent bar patron, is said to have drunk so much absinthe here one evening that he mistook a stack of chairs for a field of tulips. Today, visitors can ‘enjoy an ‘Absinthe a’ the Bar’ prepared traditionally with a beautiful art nouveau fountain that echoes the decadencvenue’se venue’s decor.
Nightjar – 129 City Road, London EC1V 1JB
Nightjar’s intimate setting and live jazz music recall an elegant glamour of long ago. The bar is renowned for its award-winning cocktails with a flair for presentation. But direct your gaze to their impressive drinks cupboard filled with vintage spirits and an impressive array of absinthes. Their selection includes examples from around the world and absinthes distilled right here in Britain. All served with the traditional fountain, it’s easy to imagine you’ve been transported to the days of speakeasies.
The Last Tuesday Society – 11 Mare Street, London E8 4RP
The Absinthe Parlour at The Last Tuesday Society is the perfect setting to succumb to your curiosity for the mysterious spirit – and all things weird and wonderful, for that matter. Pioneering the way for the spirit’s revival with a programme of absinthe talks, tastings and workshops. The Absinthe Parlour’s menu offers a selection of serving styles that appeal to the Absinthe drinkers of today. While you can still opt for the traditional absinthe fountain, why not shake things up with their menu of absinthe highballs and signature absinthe serves? Every cocktail on the menu incorporates absinthe in varying measures to showcase the spirit’s versatility beyond the fountain. Not ready to jump straight into the hard stuff? Try their very indulgent Chocolate Absinthe Liqueur! They also host London’s only Absinthe Hour with special offers every weekday until 6 pm.
Helgi’s – 177 Mare Street, London
London’s favourite occult rock bar best channels the spirit of occultist, writer (perhaps spy) and absinthe drinker Aleister Crowley. Sacred incense permeates the dark, psychedethat’sr’s that’s lit by conjuring candles and blacklights. Manifesting the ethos of hard booze & heavy rock, a nHelgi’s Helgi’s is not for the faint of heart, which makes it the perfect venue for the rituals of absintspirit’sspirit’s delectable powers can be summoned by the traditional fountain or in one of their devilishly delicious cocktails. Afterwards, visit their shop, The Moon Temple, for all your witchcraft & magic needs.
The Thin White Duke – 22B Great Windmill Street, London W1D 7LD
The Thin White Duke brings absinthe back to the creative corners of Soho. Head to this David Bowie-inspired cocktail bar for their absinthe hour and indulge in their wonderfully curated list of cocktails. Find yourself feeling inspired by the green fairy. Channel the spirit of Ziggy in one of their beautifully designed recording studios in the venue’s basement.
I hope you enjoyed that.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Allison Crawbuck and Rhys Everett are co-founders of The Absinthe Parlour at The Last Tuesday Society in East London. Transforming Hackney’s best-kept secret into City’s favourite alternative cocktail bar. In 2019, it was voted the Best Bar in London at the 7th annual Design My Night Awards by a public vote of over 180,000 Londoners, and in 2020, their Absinthe menu was shortlisted for Imbibe’s Specialist List of the Year. In January 2021, Allison and Rhys launched thUK’sfirst Absinthe distilleryDevil’s Botany ln Leyton, East London. The Spirits Business listeDevil’s Botany London Absinthe as #8 in the Top 50 innovative spirits launches of 2021. Allison and Rhys are authors of ‘Spirits of the Otherworld: A Grimoire of Occult Cocktails & Drinking Ritua’s’, published by Prestel/RandomHouse (ISBN 9783791387147).