The Absinthe Bar in Antibes, of course. Where else on a Saturday night, surrounded by singing, laughing people drinking all kinds of absinthe, from the classic green fairy to white absinthe and some very strong, very nihilist brews. Believe it or not, not all absinthe is alike. Some is delicate, with a bouquet of flowers and complex flavors. Others will paralyze your palate. Guess which category applies to Absinthe Apocalypse?
Sometimes truth or dare is a dangerous game.
The Absinthe Bar in Antibes is down a steep, twisting flight of stairs, into a stone-walled cave, with rough unhewn bricks in various stages of mortar. In the back, a collection of water drippers and historic bottles. On the floor, tiny tables and chairs, each waiting for its vessel of ice water, four tiny spigots, and sugar cubes. They bring the classic glasses, with your brew of choice and absinthe spoons. You control the amount of water, dripping slowly through a sugar cube. The absinthe clouds and blooms with flavor as the water touches its surface.
In the back, the bar is light with green lights. The TV over the bar is always on. But, this is France: we’re not watching soccer, tennis, horse races, or any sports. We’re tuned to Fashion TV, watching Fashion Week recaps, lingerie shows, model profiles.
Everyone is singing along to the live piano player, who sings in English and plays show tunes, older pop songs, and “New York, New York” (Anybody else remember Gremlins 2?), exchanging hats, and even trying to dance.
Here’s a tip no one else will share with you: If it’s just the two of you, find one of the small tables at the back, next to the wall. Instead of trying to talk across the table, lean in and talk to the wall. Your voice will bounce of the wall and to your partner. I learned this from watching George the lion at the old SF zoo bounce his roar off the cement floor, amplifying it and creating leonine surround-sound.
Another tip: drinks that come in bottles that look like this are probably not in your best interest:
And one final tip: The current word on the street is that absinthe is now safe. But in tiny print on the drinks menus, we are warned there is a 3-drink limit.
In the spirit of adventure,