87 Albion Street
2010 Sydney, Australia
tel: +61 2 9211 6632 / +61 2 9476 6147
Wed-Sun, 4pm to 10pm
Any drink that's been banned in France (and most of the world) must be good. Any drink credited with artistic creation (see Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Oscar Wilde) must be great. That's absinthe for you.
So after a century or two of bad press, it's back. There's even a temple dedicated exclusively to this most theatrical of beverages in downtown Surry Hills. It's more like visiting a friend's place though: you ring a doorbell and someone lets you in. Bookings in advance (12 max) are well advised on busier end-of-week nights because of the Absinthe Salon's intimate size and for now, its curious appeal.
Tiny tables are scattered about the salon, each with a different absinthe fountain. A large art nouveau street lamp sprouts in the middle of the room. Back-lit potted palms fill corners. It's very well lit, maybe too well. I envisaged something more Moulin Rouge after midnight, but this feels more Burke's Backyard at midday.
Absinthe consumption is a ritual, and staff is more than ready to instruct and educate on the finer points. There are about 20 brands, hailing from Switzerland, France, Germany and Spain. Prices range between $12 and $20 per glass. But you're only allowed three. It's that potent. Seriously.
If this wasn't decadent enough, you can nibble on petit brioche or absinthe-centered chocolate truffles.