Absinthe Salon

Bars, Sydney / 10 February 2010
Last Saturday I took my flat-mate out for a belated birthday date. Being a fellow food and drink lover I wanted to take her somewhere new, somewhere different.

We jumped in a cab and headed to Surry Hills on route to her birthday surprise and arrived at a small unassuming house on the corner of Albion and Bellevue St. We rang the door bell and a woman with long brown wavy hair, and a green corset answered the door and asked our names. She opened the gate and said “welcome to Absinthe Salon” as we walked through.

Absinthe Salon opened seven weeks ago and is the only bar of its kind in Sydney. It only serves absinthe and there is a three drink maximum per person. You can’t help but feel you’ve left Sydney and stepped into an underground drinking spot somewhere in Europe. Our very informative and passionate Dutch host added to the illusion. Bookings are essential and spaces are limited with about a dozen small tables inside.

There is a ritual associated with drinking absinthe that is explained to us once seated. The absinthe varies in origin, strength and price and drinking is approached as a three course meal. For our entrée we try two glasses of ‘lower’ strength absinthe (just a measly 45%) from France and another from Switzerland.
We were expecting the absinthe to be bright emerald green but that is Czech absinthe and is not served here. On each table is an ornate fountain filled with icy water that slowly dripped onto a sugar cube and into our glasses. As we sipped our cloudy light green drinks, the smell of aniseed lingered and our tongues tingled. After just one drink our cheeks were flushed and we turned into giggly school girls.

Feeling tipsy from the ‘entrée’ our host warned us the main would really “pack a punch”. Cautiously we performed the ritual of preparing the drinks, one from France the other Germany. Both 68% alcohol yet surprisingly smooth, though this may have been from the entrée numbing our throats.

By the time it came to the third optional drink our host took one look at us and recommended we share. Being my friends birthday he generously offered one of his finest French absinthe on the house. It was 72% and absolutely delicious.

This is definitely an experience I recommend to those who appreciate absinthe or just want to try something different. Prices range from $12- $19 and as we were advised the stronger the drink doesn’t necessarily mean it tastes better. Both myself and my drinking companion preferred Absinthe originating from France, we found it smoother to drink.
As we stumbled out of the Salon and into the rain, bellies warm and hungry we continued our agenda of trying new things and headed to Tokonama to check out Toko’s little sister on Crown St.

87 Albion St, Surry Hills
02 9211 6632