Spring is finally in the air, and our thoughts naturally turn to the warmer, longer evenings of the summer months and what we might get up to that’s different and fun. If you want alternative things to do in London this summer, The Absinthe Parlour is a different venue.
Based in Hackney in East London, The Absinthe Parlour is located within the building of The Last Tuesday Society, a “curiosity museum”, which houses several peculiar items, including mummified fairies and the skeleton of a mermaid, a two-headed kitten, art made of human hair, erotica and dead babies in bottles… to name a few.
The Absinthe Parlour itself is equally intriguing and curious. It describes itself as “a drinker’s cabinet of wonder filled with unusual spirits, from the old world and new, together in one curious exhibition of extraordinary elixirs.”
The cocktail bar celebrates the famous absinthe, a drink notoriously associated with creative genius (think Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Charles Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde), and surrounded by myths of blindness, hallucinogenic properties and being poisonous.
Despite all that – or perhaps because of it – absinthe is seeing a revival, which is evident in the success of The Absinthe Parlour. 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. Looking at the menu, you can see why it was shortlisted.
Allison Crawbuck and Rhys Everett, co-founders of The Absinthe Parlour, also launched the UK’s first Absinthe distillery Devil’s Botany in Leyton, East London. Distilled with a background in mixology, the Devil’s Botany range has been handcrafted to highlight
absinthe’s versatility in cocktails.
And every drink on The Absinthe Parlour menu has one of their signature absinthe blends at its heart. You can start simple with a small glass of just absinthe, served traditionally, with a fountain, spoon and sugar cube, or you can try the highballs, where absinthe is mixed with liqueurs of passion fruit, kumquat, mint or melon and an appropriate mixer.
Or, if you are feeling very adventurous, there are cocktails where absinthe is expertly mixed with other spirits, liqueurs and mixers for a drink experience with equally enticing names, such as Merchant of Florence, Eye Contact, Vanity Slayer and From the Ashes.
The only thing you won’t find on the menu is a drink that does not involve absinthe.