Absinthe Montmartre is the first and probably only traditionally distilled, naturally colored, austrian premium Absinthe. A true old-viennese speciality and, as the title of this writing allready hints at, "the rebirth of an old tradition".
To explain how the creation of Absinthe Montmartre came to be, why it is so special and what the old-viennese "Absinthe Tradition" is all about is the aim of the following chapters.
But in order to do that, i first have to take my readers onto a little trip into Viennas past...
Emperor Franz Joseph of Habsburg-Lothringen
Vienna, Belle Epoque (1875 - 1923)
Residing on his throne in the viennese Hofburg emperor Franz Joseph of Habsburg-Lothringen watches over his peoples with fatherly strictness. Meanwhile culture and art flourish all around the glorious imperial capital like never before and never again.
Within the walls of the viennese Secession great pieces of art are brought into being. At the same time with much less attention from the public another art is practiced deep in the halls of the old-viennese distillery Fischer which has been founded in the year of 1875.
Absinthe, carefully distilled on large copper alambqiues, ages in wooden barrels. Ready to be bottled and delivered to the decadent artists of the viennese scene who, like many artists of their time, like to indulge in the exotic and mysterious.
Austrian Absintheurs are few but dedicated, so night after night the green fairy flows freely...
Vienna, prohibition and war (1923 - 1945)
In the wake of world war one the enemies of Absinthe gain more and more power all around the globe. Eventually the fire of prohibition spreads from france and switzerland towards the east. By the year of 1923 it reaches germany and austria as well.
It is widely believed that Absinthe was banned in austria and germany at the same time. But i have yet to see the text of the austrian law itself or any other evidence of it's existence. On the other hand during the research that was done for the "project Montmartre" an old product catalog of the distillery Fischer was discovered... and it raised some interesting questions.
The catalog mentioned above used the old currency of "Reichsmark" and it listed "Absynth" as an active product of the distillery. The interesting point about that is the fact that the "Reichsmark" only existed between the years of 1924 to 1948. Well after the supposed austrian ban on Absinthe. Also one has to note that "Reichsmark" never was a valid official currency in austria except for the time of the german occupation during the years of 1938 - 1945.
So i believe this indicates that Absinthe production and/or sale in Vienna might very well have actually continued until the days of the third reich. Either because, contrary to popular believe, Absinthe had never officially been banned in austria, or because the ban was never effectively enforced.
But whatever might have survived the years of prohibition surely met it's fate during the catastrophe that came to be known as the second world war...
Early in 1945 allied tactical bombers start a devastating campaign against the austrian capital. Heavily hit by an airraid which was actually aimed at the railway station "Wien Meidling" many buildings of the nearby distillery Fischer burst into flame and collapse. In August 1945 the "fortress Vienna" lies under siege by the red army. Artillery and fighterbombers of both sides rain down destruction upon the once glorious imperial capital while tanks and troopers fight among the ruins.
With most of the production facilities destroyed and the expensive ingredients out of reach, Absinthe begins to fade into oblivion...
The final battle of vienna ended most of the war for austria... did it bring about the end of the green fairy as well?
Prohibition has come to central and eastern europe
Historical product catalog of the distillery Fischer
Final battle of Vienna 1945 - the viennese Stephansdom in flames
La Fée Verte has returned to Vienna, in all her old glory!
Vienna, 23rd December 2004
Silently the old copper alambique rests in the corner of the venerable subterranean chamber, covered in layers of dust and patina. Slowly the first drops of crystal clear liquid begin to drip out of the condenser and immediately fill the air with the perfumed scent of fragrant herbs.
An old tradition is reborn...
Two viennese gentleman, Gerald Fischer of the old-viennese distillery Fischer and Roman F. Gundacker private antiques collector and experienced Absintheur have come together to bring the tradition of quality absinthe distillation back into their hometown. Not an easy task as it soon would turn out!
The old handwritten recipe books of the distillery were taken from the safe where they had lain undisturbed and needed to be deciphered. Historical documents from france and germany where analyzed and compared to the austrian scriptures. Recipes, distillation protocolls, herb books... everything needed to be toroughly studied to guarantee the utmost quality and historical authenticity of the product.
Naturally an important question that came up was "what did vintage austrian Absinthe taste like anyway?". And while the creators had two vintage french Absinthes at their disposal, one of which even dated from before the ban of 1915, similar austrian relics where nowhere to be found.
So it was quite a challenge to compile all of this information into a drink that would, on one side, be able to compete with fine french brands, and on the other side, still have a unique, individual taste making it a true old-austrian speciality. And we were happy to face that challenge.
We the creators of Absinthe Montmartre, hope that you will enjoy our creation and look forward to hear what you think about it.
your opinion is important to us! We are very committed to what we are
doing and will continue to develop and refine our Absinthe even after
it's initial release. So please feel free to give us your critiques,
comments and suggestions... we will allways be glad to listen to our
Mesdames et messieurs, c'est l'heure de la fée verte!