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Absinthe topette, distiller's handbook, prohibition jug and glass

Still life with Enigma absinthe, Bar Nightjar

A collection of rare absinthe antiques shown in their natural bar environment. The green ‘prohibition jug’ shows the time set at ten minutes to midnight, and the words ‘Messieurs, c’est l’heur’ referring to the imminent banning of absinthe at midnight on 12th February 1915. Next to the jug stands an engraved  swirl or torsades style absinthe glass, one of a set of six, standing in a bistro saucer with a rare absinthe spoon, Losanges incurve  No2 in the Marie-Claude Delahaye classification. To the left of the Enigma absinthe bottle is an eight dose topette. Topettes were used to deliver measures of absinthe to the customer. Prior to this it was common to leave the bottle with the customer and trust them to declare how many shots they had taken. In the foreground is a copy of J de Brevans 1908 distiller’s manual La Fabrication des Liqueurs. Considered by many to be the absinthe distillers bible, the chapters on distilling absinthe and recipes are still used today.

Brevans 'La Fabrication des Liqueurs'

Brevans La Fabrication des Liqueurs, the distiller’s bible

Absinthe topette with jug

Absinthe topette with eight measured doses

Prohibition jug and swirl absinthe glass

Swirl absinthe glass, saucer & spoon with prohibition jug

Absinthe glasses, carafe and playing cards

Still life with piano and absinthe, Bar Nightjar

A table set up for a game of cards. On each side are a matching pair of late 19th century ‘East’ absinthe glasses, so called because of their popularity in the East of France and featured in the painting Absinthe Drinkers by Jean Francois Raffaelli. The glasses sit in matching bar saucers, each saucer has the price of the drink embossed on the side, F1.50, allowing the bar tender to add up the bar tab quickly. On the left hand saucer rests  a Toulouse Lautrec absinthe spoon, purportedly designed and used by the artist himself. A stash of 12 spoons was found with what is supposedly the monogram of Toulouse Lautrec cut into the tip. True or false? We don’t really know, but what we do know is that the originals became fabulously collectable and hugely expensive. On the right hand saucer rests a ‘Joanne’ absinthe spoon. originally produced for the Parisian distillery Edmond Joanne. This wonderfully detailed spoon is engraved ‘Absinthe Joanne – Medaille D’Or Paris 1889’ and the central cut-out has the Swiss cross flanked by the initials E.J. The ‘Buvez Un Bleue‘ water carafe is not from the absinthe era, the reference is to La Bleue, the Swiss slang for absinthe, but the design comes from the 1920s. The playing cards display the name of the absinthe brand Edouard Pernod.

East absinthe glass

East glass, saucer and spoon

Edouard Pernod playing cards

Playing cards branded Edouard Pernod  

La Bleue carafe

‘Buvez Un Bleue’ water carafe

Thanks Due

We would like to thank Edmund and Rosie and all the staff at Nightjar for allowing us to use the bar in our photo shoot and special thanks to Stone Aperture for capturing the moment so well.