“Absinthe has a wonderful color, green. A glass of absinthe is as poetical as anything in the world. What difference is there between a glass of absinthe and a sunset?”
Staff blogger, Daniel Baylis, is accompanying me, or shall I say, chaperoning me, to make sure I don’t do anything crazy. It is, after all, my first time flirting with the mind-altering potion of 19th century European artists and poets.
Walking in, the first thing I notice are the three (hot) men in suits, sitting at the bar to my left: young professionals drinking vodka on the rocks. So far, green hour is looking pretty good.
To my right, a framed painting of the divine Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), the iconoclastic film actress and queen of French tragedy. Sylvie, my waitress, welcomes me and tells me Sarah performed at the hotel in 1880, which is why the absinthe bar now carries her name.
I sit on my green leather stool and start bonding with the spirit of Sarah B. We would have probably shared a lot in common, minus the fact that Victor Hugo would never call me the “Golden Voice”.
The cocktail and absinthe menu are quite extensive and I’m just an intrigued newbie, so I ask Sylvie for guidance. Versinthe turns out to be one of the most popular types of absinthe, but Absente tastes better. It also (only) contains 55% alcohol. Other absinthes go up to 75%….
Absente it is.
Sylvie pours water into a fancy absinthe canister, then perfectly melts the sugar right into my drink. I choose a few tapas, small Spanish appetizers, including cod fitters, octopus salad and pastis shrimps. Three for 15$.
After a drink, I begin to feel woozy, but nothing to worry (or get excited) about. Today’s absinthe is thujone-free. Since thujone is the secret ingredient behind absinthe’s unusual mind-illuminating effects, I will have to resort on my imagination to improve my cognitive and creative abilities.
Luckily, Sarah B and its intimate alcoves (above) are just the right place to get my imaginative juices flowing. Staff is friendly, décor is mysterious and the cheese plate truly made my day.
If you’re feeling very hungry, you can also eat at the hotel’s Osco restaurant, which connects to the bar, and is open until midnight.
So try something new while you’re in town! Sarah B will not disappoint you.
360 Saint-Antoine West
Montreal, QC, H2Y 3X4