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Localité et Publicité

Absinthe Poster
Guy Pene du Bois
The Old Absinthe House,
New Orleans


Van Gogh
The Old Absinthe House, 1903
Note: The fountain pictured at right


Absinthe Ducros Fils - Le Cri de Paris 1902


Poster for Absinthe La Picardine


Suppression of Absinthe in Switzerland 1908


Absinthe Prohibition in France 1915


Absinthe Prohibition in Switzerland 1910

The Old Absinthe House

New Orleans

On a conspicuous corner of Bourbon and Bienville in New Orleans's French Quarter stands an antique building famed as The Old Absinthe House. A square building of plaster and brick it was visited by many people of renown: Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, William Thackeray, Walt Whitman, Aaron Burr, and Aleister Crowley, who wrote "The Green Goddess" here while waiting for a lady friend.
Albert Maignan's 'The Green Muse'
The building was constructed in 1806 by two Spanish importers, Francisco Juncadella and Pedro Font. It continued as a commision house for various foodstuffs until 1820, when it was turned into an épicurie, and then a bootshop. Finally, in 1846, the ground floor corner room became a saloon known as "Aleix's Coffee House," run by Jacinto Aleix and his brother, nephews of the widow of Juncadella. Absinthe was being sold from this building as early as 1826.

In 1869, the Aleix brothers hired Cayetano Ferrér, another Catalan, who had been a barkeeper at the French Opera House. In 1874, Cayetano himself leased the place and renamed it the "Absinthe Room" because of the numerous requests he had for the drink which he served in the Parisian manner.

The building in which the drinking establishment was located was later called "The Old Absinthe House." After the doors to the bar were nailed shut by the U.S. marshal during Prohibition 1926,° Pierre Casebonne bought the cash register, the paintings on the wall, the old water dripper and the marble topped bar from which absinthes had been served and moved them to what is now the "Old Absinthe House Bar" at 400 Bourbon Street (at Conti). The original "Absinthe Room" is still a bar, called "Jean Lafitte's Old Absinthe House," named after the myth that the pirate Lafitte used to hold clandestine meetings here.

This green marble fountain (pictured above) can still be seen at the Old Absinthe Bar (Bourbon & Bienville). The glass of Absinthe would be placed beneath the spigot, with absinthe spoon and cube of sugar on top, then ice water would be slowly dripped onto the cube of sugar, producing a delicately sweetened apéritif.


Aleister Crowley

"The Green Goddess"
"There is a corner of the United States which he has overlooked. It lies in New Orleans, between Canal Street and Esplanade Avenue; the Mississippi for its base. Thence it reaches northward to a most curious desert land, where is a cemetery lovely beyond dreams. Its walls low and whitewashed, within which straggles a wilderness of strange and fantastic tombs; and hard by is that great city of brothels which is so cynically mirthful a neighbor. As Felicien Rops wrote,--or was it Edmond d'Haraucourt?--"la Prostitution et la Mort sont frere et soeur--les fils de Dieu!" At least the poet of Le Legende des Sexes was right, and the psycho-analysts after him, in identifying the Mother with the Tomb. This, then, is only the beginning and end of things, this "quartier macabre" beyond the North Rampart with the Mississippi on the other side. It is like the space between, our life which flows, and fertilizes as it flows, muddy and malarious as it may be, to empty itself into the warm bosom of the Gulf Stream, which (in our allegory) we may call the Life of God.

"But our business is with the heart of things; we must go beyond the crude phenomena of nature if we are to dwell in the spirit. Art is the soul of life and the Old Absinthe House is heart and soul of the old quarter of New Orleans."

The Complete Text: The Green Goddess

Absinthe Frappé

It will free you first from burning thirst
That is born of a night of the bowl,
Like a sun 'twill rise through the inky skies
That so heavily hang o'er your souls.
At the first cool sip on your fevered lip
You determine to live through the day,
Life's again worth while as with a dawning smile
You imbibe your absinthe frappé

~ Glenn MacDonough

Wormwood: A Drama of Paris

by Marie Corelli, 1890

"Let me be mad ...
mad with the madness of Absinthe,
the wildest, most luxurious
madness in the world."

A frightful novel whose aim was to terrify the English into rejecting absinthe (obviously so successful that England is one of the few countries where absinthe was never banned as there was no need to prohibit its use). With purple prose and absurdly tragic and insipid characters, the book comes off like a Victorian Reefer Madness preaching against the frenchification of English Society, symbolized of course by the frenchest of all past times, the drinking of absinthe.

"Wormwood", like so many riteous messages of lofty aim, succeeds in doing the opposite. Taken out of context, numerous passages could quite easily be misinterperated as over blown advocacy in absinthe's favor. And of course makes for marvelous quotations!

Par Example:

"Would you know the single craving of my blood - the craving that burns in me more fiercely than hunger in a starving beast of prey - the one desire, to gratify which, I would desparately dare and defy all men? Listen then! A nectar, bitter-sweet - like the last kiss on the lips of a discarded mistress - is the secret charm of my existence; green as the moon's light on a forest pool it glimmers in my glass; eagerly I quaff it, and, as I drink, I dream. Not of foolish things. No! Not of dull saints and smooth landscapes in heaven and wearisome prudish maids; but of glittering bacchantes, nude nymphs in a dance of hell, flashing torrents and dazzling mountain-peaks, of storm and terror, of lightning and rain, of horses galloping, of flags flying, of armies marching, of haste and uproar and confusion and death!"

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