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Thursday, 21 July 2011

Absinthe Bar at BB&G, Knighstbridge

Distilled from wormwood and brutally alcoholic, absinthe was banned in 1914 by a French government fearful for its citoyens’ health and sanity - shortly before it shipped them off them to die or go mad in the trenches. Artists, rakes and roués coveted the spirit - it tastes like neat Pernod mixed with Night Nurse - for its trippy qualities while in Belle Époque bordellos, ugly old creeps favoured it for loosening up recalcitrant filles de joie: hence the maxim ‘absinthe makes the tart grow fonder.’ Newly legalised in France and never banned in Britain, it's enjoying a renaissance, at least in the eyes of ‘London’s first absinthe bar’ which hopes to convert Generation Aftershock to this antique, alternative head-bender. An early encounter with the stuff led me to wake up in a Gorbals high-rise, in bed with a German shepherd - as in big dug, not the Deutsche equivalent of Big Doug - and zero recall. Tonight , I’m hoping for a similarly dark decadent adventure but Brompton Bar and Grill’s basement lounge is less Serge Gainsbourg debauched, more Christine Lagarde buttoned-up chic. A list of just three cocktails (why no Sazerac or Remember the Maine?) hardly invites a Rimbaud gets wrecked in Rouen sesh. Hoping for a glimpse of la fée verte - the poetic French see green fairies; we see pink Dumbos - I persevere and work my way through all three cocktails: a daiquiri, summat else I didn't care for, and Death in the Afternoon - good Champagne spoiled by its wormwood slug. ‘Look! It’s (Moulin Rouge’s fée verte) Kylie Minogue,’ slurs my date, an absinthe virgin, indicating a miniscule Knightsbridge matron with a Botox-frozen dial. He’s only had two shots. Absinthe is not for lightweights. 
Brompton Bar & Grill, 243 Brompton Rd SW3 7589 8005