For most of us, our first encounter with fairies was watching Disney’s Peter Pan as children, seeing pretty little Tinkerbell fly across the screen. But what does the fairy actually represent? She is a supernatural being, a symbol of transformation and enchantment, human yet magical, a bridge between fantasy and reality.
In Paris in the late 1800s, bohemian writers and artists discovered they could cross that very same bridge, indulging in a beverage distilled from herbs to inspire them and unlock their creativity. The spirit became known as La Fée Verte or The Green Fairy – the drink known as absinthe.
A pretty perforated metal spoon sits on a glass with a sugar cube on top. The absinthe waits patiently at the bottom for you to gently turn the tap and release a trickle of iced water. Drip, drip, drip… with every drop of water, the oils are released and the liquid magically transforms, like the fairy, from a clear liquor to a cloudy and sweetly perfumed liquid, ready to be sipped and savoured.
Is it dangerous or hallucinogenic? No, that’s just propaganda resulting in its being banned in the early 1900s. That being said, the wormwood, a main component of absinthe, does have a gentle relaxing effect on the mind and body; probably why it was so sought after by some of the most noted artists and writers around Europe from that time in history.
At Absinthesalon Melbourne, absinthe is pretty much all you’ll get to drink; and the story of how absinthe came to be is intrinsically linked to the bar’s owners. Absinthesalon has been created with passion by husband and wife team, builder Vince Marino and interior designer Rebecca Lombardo. Both highly creative, motivated and wanting to transform their lives, Marino and Lombardo moved from Sydney to Melbourne to share their favourite drink with our city.
Absinthesalon Melbourne is a unique space in Fitzroy, reminiscent of a beautiful little Parisian cafe or bar filled with wicker chairs, murals on the walls and lights shaped like tulips hanging from the ceiling en masse. There is a sense of calm here, a silence you embrace because it feels right. Each of the little tables have a shared water fountain in the centre, ensuring that every table can have their own unique absinthe experience. You have 36 different absinthes to choose from, each with a story of their own, most of them unavailable anywhere else.
There’s a house rule: you can only have three serves of absinthe in one sitting. This place isn’t about over-indulging; it’s a celebration of a very misunderstood spirit, one that should receive far more recognition than it does.
The green fairy’s enchanting glow washes over the venue and spills out onto the street, like a beacon of light drawing you inside. Allow yourself to fall under her spell, and be transported to a place that may feel like bohemian Paris but is unmistakably Absinthesalon Melbourne.