Absinthe...the Green Fairy...La Fée Verte....no other drink has the same romantic
history - the French Impressionists....Toulouse Lautrec, Degas, Manet, Van
Gogh....Paris in the Belle Epoque....the cafes of Montmartre....the muse of writers
from Verlaine and Rimbaud to Joyce and Hemingway. Of course, there's a darker
side to absinthe as well - no other drink has ever roused the same degree of
passionate condemnation, and no other drink has ever been banned outright in the
way absinthe was in the years leading up to 1915.
All that remains today of this fabled era are the ghosts of the Green Fairy...absinthe
antiques and absinthiana....slotted spoons for holding the sugar cube, dose-marked
glasses, advertising carafes, matchstrikers or pyrogenes for the grande marques,
absinthe advertising posters, manufacturers catalogues and postcards....echos of
La Heure Verte a century ago.
Welcome from Oxygénée
Your guide to the lost world of absinthe and La Fée Verte
Your guide to the lost world of absinthe and La Fée Verte is Oxygénée, a passionate absintheur
and artémisophile. Oxygénée takes his online name from the smiling bon vivant, seen in
Tamagno's famous poster enjoying a glass of Cusenier's Absinthe Oxygénée - one of the
greatest brands of the era. When he's not busy updating this site - new items are added to the
Virtual Museum every month - or scouring rural France for forgotten bottles of pre-ban
absinthe, and distilling the acclaimed Roquette and Mystique absinthes in Pontarlier, Oxygénée
runs Oxygenee Ltd, a UK based company specializing in absinthe, and rare and ancient spirits.
If you're new to absinthe, begin your journey into the world of the Green Fairy by reading
Oxygénée's Absinthe FAQ and visiting the Virtual Museum, and then follow up by consulting
the many other sections, all outlined below.
The Virtual Absinthe Museum showcases the Oxygénée collection of absinthiana - an
enormous range of original artifacts documenting every aspect of the history of La Fée
Verte, from its use as a medicinal elixir in ancient times, to its heyday as a fashionable
aperitif in the 19th century and its prohibition at the beginning of the 20th. Here you'll
find examples of the rarest and most beautiful absinthe spoons, glasses that glow green
because of their uranium content, absinthe fountains, carafes and pitchers, art nouveau
style advertising cartons and posters, catalogues, invoices and ephemera from the leading
absinthe distillers, books, journals and newspapers of every description, propaganda
from the anti-absinthe temperance movement, and counter-propaganda from the equally
passionate supporters of the Green Fairy - the whole fabled history of absinthe is here.
See lower down this page for even more on the exhibits at the Virtual Museum.
This is the most detailed, accurate and comprehensive Absinthe FAQ on the web. This
information is constantly being updated and expanded, both to take into account new historical
research, and to keep abreast of the latest news from the ever expanding modern absinthe
renaissance. The most commonly asked questions - what is wormwood, what is absinthe, how
is it made, how is it drunk, is it safe to drink, what are absinthe's so-called "secondary effects,
what is thujone - are all answered here. As for its history, there's a detailed discussion of the
earliest origins of absinthe, its growth in popularity, it's impact on artists and writers like Van
Gogh, Toulouse Lautrec, Verlaine, Oscar Wilde and Hemingway, the ferocious anti-absinthe
campaign against it that resulted in its prohibition in the early 1900's, and its remarkable rebirth
nearly a century later.
A step-by-step illustrated account of the making of absinthe, based on actual
distillations at the historic Emile Pernot distillery in Pontarlier.
We follow the entire process - from the cultivation and harvesting of young
wormwood plants, to the painstaking selection and preparation of the dried herbs,
the maceration of the herbal mixture in alcohol, followed by distillation and
rectification using the distillery's historic Egrot alambics - unchanged since the
absinthe era - and finally the all important chlorophyllic coloring process that gives
absinthe its mysterious and romantic green hue.
Unlike many everyday aperitifs, absinthe was historically almost always prepared and drunk
in a highly specific way - this, the so-called "absinthe ritual" was part of the reason for its
popularity and for the unique position it's always held in the pantheon of drinks. While the
elements of the basic ritual are well known - the sugar cube positioned on a perforated spoon
placed on top of the glass, iced water dripped on the cube, slowly dissolving it and diluting
the absinthe dose in the glass with the sugared water - there are many refinements which
both enhance the pleasure of preparing the drink and subtly improve the taste of the finished
absinthe. They're all discussed in detail here, and illustrated with two streaming videos.
There's also a page devoted to an alternative preparation ritual - the little known, but
fascinating and historically sanctioned "glass-in-a-glass" method
Absinthe Web Shop
Buy French and Swiss absinthe, spoons, glasses & fountains, books, CDs
Here you'll find both our own web shop, and links to our three sister sites: Absinthe Classics, which sells the
very finest modern absinthes, including our own acclaimed Doubs Mystique and Roquette 1797, together with
the award-winning Jade and Duplais absinthes; Absinthe Spoon which offers a huge selection of replica
An ever-expanding range of high quality reproductions of many of the rarest, most beautiful and most
interesting posters, artworks and photographs in the Oxygénée collection. Most of these images are not
available elsewhere on the web, and many are based on unique originals. They range from gorgeous
art-nouveau creations - Absinthe Robette, Absinthe Blanqui, and Absinthe Rosinette all come
immediately to mind - to whimsically humorous images like the famous Absinthe Bourgeois "Chat Noir"
and Absinthe Barth's cheerily monocled society gent, to the sometimes frightening but always
compelling posters produced by both the pro- and anti-absinthe movements.
This is a bilingual forum, designed to facilitate communication between English
and French enthusiasts. Posts in either English and French are acceptable, and the
underlying software itself can be switched to select either language. The focus of
the forum is on the history of absinthe, and on the art, antiques and collectibles
associated with it.
All users can enter and read the forum, but it is necessary to register if you wish to
post. Registration usually only takes a matter of minutes, but since each application
is individually validated, you may have to wait a few hours for approval.
Almost from the very outset, motion picture producers found a lucrative niche producing
films with an anti-alcohol message. As the much demonized focus of the French
temperance movement, absinthe was soon given a starring role as villain-in-chief.
After years of painstaking searching in libraries, archives and private collections in Italy,
France, Holland and the US, Oxygénée has tracked down some of these forgotten relics
from the dawn of the motion picture era - restored and digitally remastered, they are now
available here, in most cases for the first time since their initial release nearly a century ago.
An overall sitemap of the Virtual Absinthe Museum website. For reference to pre-2007 pages, see also our archived sitemap.
Visit the Musée de l'Absinthe in Auvers sur Oise
Although not affiliated with this site (which is purely an online museum), we strongly recommend a visit to the Musée de l'Absinthe in Auvers sur Oise,
about an hour outside Paris. Founded by Marie-Claude Delahaye, the doyenne of French absinthe historians, the Musée de l'Absinthe is entirely dedicated to
the history and lore of absinthe and La Fee Verte, with a wonderful collection of art, posters, historical documents and absinthe artifacts.
44 rue Callé, Auvers sur Oise 01-30-36-83-26 Oct.-May weekends 11am-6pm ; June-Sept. Wed.-Sun. 11am-6pm
Finest & Rarest, dealing in rare and ancient
cognac, Chartreuse, whisky and other spirits.
authentic Belle Epoque
era absinthe antiques.
The Absinthe Spoon The premier source
for fine replica spoons, glasses and fountains.
|This website and all its contents Copyright 2002- 2010 Oxygenee Ltd.
No pictures or text may be reproduced or used in any form without written permission of the site owner.
Vintage absinthe is far rarer than ancient cognac, pre-prohibition bourbon, or
any other vintage spirit. Every surviving bottle is a precious relic. No more than
a few hundred people on earth have tasted even a sample of vintage absinthe
(most of them via this website), and only a few dozen have been privileged to
own one of the few remaining sealed bottles. We continually search throughout
France, Switzerland and Spain for these bottles - when we occasionally find
them, they sell immediately to clients on our waiting list. Visit our Web Shop
to find out more, and to add your name to the list.
Join our Mailing List
Receive our monthly email newsletter
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please click on the green box at left. A small form will
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Newsletter subscribers get advance notice of new additions to the Museum,and preferential purchasing on new releases (including
vintage absinthe samples!). There's no charge to subscribe, and you can cancel at any time. We will never pass your details on to
anyone else. We operate a double-opt-in system: once you've entered your details, you'll receive an automated email asking you to
validate your information (if you don't receive this automated confirmation email, please check in your Bulk Mail folder). As soon as
you've responded to this email by clicking the attached link, your name will be added to our list.
At the very heart of the absinthe legend is the idea that it provides a noticeably different
quality of intoxication – in other words, that over and above the normal effects expected
from alcohol, absinthe has, in addition, “secondary effects”. These are often said to include
visual disturbances, unusual sensitivity to light and colour, mild euphoria and a peculiarly
clear-headed type of drunkenness. Less reputable sources sometimes refer to it as a drug, a
narcotic, an hallucinogen or – an especially popular claim on the internet - an aphrodisiac.
The aim in this section of the Virtual Absinthe Museum is to examine these claims in more
detail, with reference wherever possible to original sources. We look firstly at the acute
effects of absinthe – the so called “secondary effects” and how they were represented by
artists and writers of the Belle Epoque, secondly we briefly overview the scientific consensus
on thujone, widely believed to be the primary active ingredient in absinthe, and lastly we
consider the effects of chronic abuse of absinthe – a controversial syndrome referred to as
“absinthism” by 19th century scientists.
The Virtual Museum Book Shop offers absinthe-related books - both bestsellers and limited edition
private press releases, together with a range of CD's and DVD's.
Particularly notable - and exclusive to us - are the gorgeous Nepenthes Press "Fée Verte" books,
which brings together some wonderful previously unpublished material in exquisitely printed
editions, our unique Absinthe Source Disk on CDROM, an incomparable reference for the serious
absintheur or distilling afficianado, and our new facsimile reprint of Duplais' seminal Treatise on
the Manufacture and Distillation of Alcoholic Liquors, the "bible" of absinthe distillation.
absinthe spoons, brouilleurs, glasses, bistro saucers and fountains
at unbeatable prices; and Absinthe Originals, the premier source
for authentic Belle Epoque era absinthe antiques and absinthiana..
The Virtual Museum Web Shop offers a range of unique gifts
including the acclaimed sterling silver absinthe grilles and spoons
made by the Virginia-based artist Kirk Burkett - artworks in
minature, as beautiful as they are functional.
We guarantee safe arrival. All orders are dispatched by priority
airmail - usually 5 to 10 days for the USA and Canada.
The quintessential absinthe accoutrement - perforated absinthe spoons for holding the sugar cube over the glass. Usually
made from plated brass, tin or nickel, they are found in an extraordinarily wide range of designs.
Glasses with marked reservoirs at the base for holding the absinthe dose.
Found in larger cafes or bistrots, these iced-water dispensers allowed up to 6 absinthes to be prepared simultaneously.
Also known as mixers or individual fountains, these sat on top of the glass and held both sugar and iced water.
Carafes & Topettes
Water carafes specifically made for the absinthe ritual, together with the distinctive measured topettes used for pouring the
correct absinthe dose.
Earthenware or majolica water jugs for use with absinthe, often in the fanciful zoomorphic designs popular at the time.
The ubiquitous matchstrikers found on every Belle Epoque cafe table, some with a bell in the base to summon the waiter.
Absinthe Posters & Advertising Cartons
Large lithographic advertising posters for the absinthe grand marques, together with the smaller cardboard-backed posters
designed for indoor use. Also a range of pro and anti-absinthe propaganda posters.
Manufacturer's catalogues, pro and anti-absinthe tracts, scientific reports, distillation guides, French poetry, English fiction
and early printed works referring to absinthe.
Satirical journals of the Belle Epoque, café life reflected in the journals of the day, anti-absinthe propaganda in the popular
press, and the pioneering Swiss pro-absinthe journal Guguss.
Advertising postcards, satirical photographic cards, propaganda postcards, chromolithographic cards.
Absinthe invoices and price-lists, publicity brochures, menus, manuscripts, early photographs and maps.
Absinthe in America
Absinthe has a long history in both the USA and in South and Central America. Above all it's inextricably linked to New
Orleans and its French Quarter, where the Old Absinthe House has been a tourist attraction for more than a century. A
special newly added section gives an exclusive insider account of the recent re-legalization of absinthe in the USA.
Alambics designed for absinthe distillation, and the trade catalogues of the leading manufacturers.
Grand wormwood, or Artemisia absinthium, the distinctive ingredient that gives absinthe its unique character.
A Visit to Pontarlier
The town of Pontarlier on the river Doubs in the Franche Comte, and the nearby Val de Travers in Switzerland, the ancestral
birthplace of the Green Fairy.
Recent updates to The Virtual Absinthe Museum:
Recent updates to the Virtual Museum:
An unrecorded set of sterling silver absinthe spoons, circa 1900, in Spoons I.
Two rare 18th century absinthe pharmacy pots in Herbs I.
A very rare clandestine still in Alambics III.
A rare "Fee Verte" Art Nouveau jug in Pichets I.
An oversized anti-absinthe poster for St Raphael Quinquina in Posters VIII.
A wonderful circa 1910 photograph of the absinthe ritual in Ephemera VI.
A fine new zoomorphic absinthe pitcher in Pichets II.
A rare late eighteenth century pharmacy pot added in Herbs I.
Many new spoons added to Spoons I, II, III and IV, particularly important is
a fine Tour Eiffel #8 "Grande Roue".
"Plan de Pontarlier Monumental" now fully restored in Ephemera VIII.
A remarkable publicity photo for Absinthe Duval in Ephemera VI.
Sections of special interest:
The following absinthe-related source documents are now available for download in Adobe Acrobat PDF format:
A complete English translation of the 1896 Maison Pernod Fils absinthe catalogue, in Books I
An important 1912 anti-absinthe paper "Alcoholism and Degeneracy" by Magnan and Fillassier in Books III
The 1882 4th and the 1899 7th edition of "Traité des Liqueurs et de la Distillation des Alcools" by Duplais in Books IV.
An English translation of J.Fritsch's authorative 1891 "Nouveau Traité de la Fabrication des Liqueurs", in Books IV
An English translation from the 1926 Fritsch dealing with Cusenier's absinthe oxygenation process, in Books IV
An English translation of Roret's 1888 "Nouveau Manuel Complet du Distillateur Liquoriste", in Books IV.
An English translation of the absinthe sections from J.de Brevans's 1908 "La Fabrication des Liqueurs", in Books IV
The absinthe sections from "A Practical Treatise on the Distillation and Rectification of Alcohol" by Brannt in Books IV
An English translation of Villon's 1894 La Nature article on the ageing of absinthe by oxygenation, in Books IV
Maurice Zolotow's influential 1971 article on absinthe published in Playboy magazine, in Books XV.
An English translation of the absinthe still descriptions from the 1899 Maison Egrot Alambics catalogue in Alambics I.
The article "Characteristic Parisian Cafes" by Theodore Child from the 1889 issue of Harper's Magazine, in Journals I
Illustrated articles on absinthe and Belle Epoque café life from Je Sais Tout 1907, and Touche à Touche 1911 in Journals I.
An overview of the Dreyfus Affair, with the full text and an English translation of Zola's "J'Accuse" in Books IX.
An English translation of Alphonse Allais' pioneering stream of consciousness piece "Absinthes" in Books V.
Verlaine's article on Raoul Ponchon, and an English translation of Ponchon's poem "5 o'clock Absinthe", in Books V.
Extensive extracts and a plot summary of Marie Corelli's 1886 anti-absinthe novel "Wormwood", in Books VI.
The complete 1897 short story by M.E.M. Davis "At the Corner of Absinthe and Anisette", in Books VI.
Scans of "La Famille et l'Alcool" from the temperance tract "Histoire d'une Bouteille" in Books VIII.
An English translation of Pliny's "Natural History" dealing with absinthe and its therapeutic properties, in Books XII
Absinthe related extracts from the risqué 1951 novel "Touchable" by Les Scott, in Books XIII.
An article: "Absinthe - The HELL-DRINK" in the 1968 'sweat' magazine Battle Cry, in Books XIV.
The complete text of Aleister Crowley's "Absinthe - The Green Goddess", in Books VII and in Absinthe FAQ III
A 1944 promotional booklet for Legendre Herbsaint with numerous cocktail recipes, in America I and Absinthe FAQ III
A collection of early absinthe-related papers from the Lancet, including one by Dr Valentin Magnan, in Absinthe FAQ V
An English translation of the comic monologue "Une Bonne Absinthe" in Ephemera II.
An English translation of Tisserand's 1922 "Eloge de la très précieuse liqueur d’Absinthe" in Prohibition II.
An English translation of a Schwyzerdütsch pro-absinthe poster for the July 1908 Swiss referendum in Posters II.
The Virtual Absinthe Museum:
Collecting Absinthe Antiques
Guidelines for collectors of absinthe antiques, an indication of pricing, some notes on fakes and forgeries, and a discussion of the
controversial "Toulouse Lautrec" spoons.