Just like the past few years, our team was on their way to the Val-de-Travers to visit the annual Fête de l’Absinthe in Boveresse, located near the Jura mountains. Plenty of people working in absinthe, absinthe lovers and enthusiasts travel to Switzerland each year to drink absinthe, and to spend the weekend with a group of friends or colleagues who share the same passion. Conversations evolve mainly around the green fairy, and one can get to know nearly all facets of the absinthe world, which makes this weekend a unique experience (at least for us!).
We were up to so much, that I’ll split this report into the different days:
Friday, June 14th, 2013
We’re leaving at noon, since we’re starting our trip in Freiburg, the drive should take us just about 3,5 hours. The Sat Nav pilots us through Pontarlier, where we spend our weekend to visit the Absinthiades in October 2012. The weather looks promising, and so does the forecast for the whole weekend. This year, quite a few members of our team have joined us: we’re a group of 9!
After dropping our luggage off at the hotel, we head straight to Gaudentia Persoz‘ new distillery building, which she only opened about one month ago. We’re happy to see her, last time we had a chance to chat with her was at the Green Velvet launch party in Zurich back in April.
Gaudentia’s new alembics
She shows us round her new distillery, explains a little about her new stills, and admits that she’s a little nervous about tomorrow. She’s going to set up her stall early in the morning, and still has a lot to prepare. Among other absinthe, she’s of course going to offer her wonderful La P’tite tomorrow. We’re leaving, are are off to our next ‘appointment’:
Claude-Alain Bugnon invites everyone to his distillery (just up the road, and opposite of our hotel) for an Aperitif. We get to see some old friends and colleagues, and are excited to exchange stories about what has happened since we last saw each other one year ago.
A few members of our team
You can hear the absinthe glasses clink, there’s laughter and ‘Santé’ everywhere, as well as the steady ripple of an absinthe fountain. Claude-Alain, wearing his blue coat and carrying a cigar as always, greets us and seems to be as happy to see everyone.
Claude-Alain’s stills are cold today!
After one (or more) glasses of La Clandesite or Butterfly, we head up to the Creux du Van and to Le Soliat, where we enjoy a delicious Swiss cheese fondue each year. The Creux du Van is a natural rocky cirque of approximately 1,400 metres of width and 150 meters of depth – the view is simply amazing and unique.
After dinner we stay around to chat and share another absinthe, before a bus takes us back down to the valley.
We enjoy the rest of the evening with a beer tasting near the hotel (yes, sometimes we cheat on our beloved absinthe!) before one or the other is going to bed to sleep off their buzz.
Saturday, June 15th, 2013
After a solid breakfast on the terrace of our hotel, we meet a few friends and start walking over to Boveresse – the weather is just perfect for a walk along the river. When we arrive, we can see that the festival is already up and running. There’s music, a food stall, and you can get coffee and cakes. Numerous distillers offer their delicious distillates for tastings, and for sale of course. The choice is so big, that we can hardly decide where to buy absinthe first – we might end up tasting too much absinthe, and that we won’t be able to decide which one to get in the end!
A visit to the old barn where wormwood used to be dried is one of our standard ventures, and always makes us feel a little nostalgic.
The sun is burning, conversation flowing, the absinthe tasty. We decide to pay Gaudentia a visit at her stall, and there she is, in her characteristic green dress, preparing absinthe glasses for a group of absinthe enthusiasts. She explains about herbs, her distilling techniques, and everything else people would like to know.
There are a lot of tasty absinthe on the table – including Green Velvet Absinthe
A few hours later, our group separates into those who would like to take an afternoon nap in order to be able to survive the evening and night ahead, and those who visit the secret fountain ‘La discrete’ in the forest nearby, where a bottle of absinthe awaits every visitor.
Some sleep, freshen up, a coffee perhaps – and we’re back on our way to Boveresse, where singer and friend Diane invites a small group of friends for a barbecue. She has a little absinthe bar in the back of her garden, and the choice offered is immense! We eat, drink an absinthe glass or two, listen to Diane play the guitar, and enjoy the evening. After a while, some people decide to head back to the hotel. We’re not done just yet, thank Diane for a lovely evening, and head over to the tent where (terrible) music is playing. We’ve listened to better music, but a bottle of La Valote Bovet helps.
Sunday, June 16th, 2013
Oh dear, how late is it? We’re quickly rushing downstairs to grab a few last bites of the hotel breakfast, before it’s all finished. On the terrace we find a few others who haven’t left yet, and we sit together and talk about last night. We’ve missed a few others that have already left early in the morning, and now it’s time to say goodbye to the others, too. The weekend has passed so fast, that it’s a little sad having to wait another year to hopefully be around the same group of people.
See you all next year, we hope you enjoyed this weekend just as much as we did! Feel free to take a look at the whole photo album of the Fête de l’Absinthe on our Facebook page.