There is almost nothing better for absinthe lovers than spending the whole weekend sharing different bottles of absinthe and talking with friends from all over the world about our favorite spirit.
If this sounds like it’s your cup of tea – or rather – absinthe, then you should definitely come to the Fête de l’Absinthe in Boveresse, Switzerland next year!
This little absinthe festival is held annually in the middle of June in the Val-de-Travers, the birthplace of absinthe.
There was no way our team was going to miss out on this year’s absinthe festival.
I’ll tell you about what we’ve been up to every day of the weekend:
Friday, June 17th
As every year, in the early afternoon we left Absinthes.com HQ in the heart of the Black Forest (we said farewell to our colleague Marion who was very sad she couldn’t make it this year), and made our way to Boveresse. We – that is, me Stefanie, Alfred, Andrew and some of our friends and family.
This time we stayed at a delightful bed and breakfast in Môtiers, a short walk away from the village of Boveresse. The owner welcomed us warmly and showed us our rooms, but we didn’t hang around for long, we were excited and wanted head to Couvet as soon as possible…
In this town, Claude-Alain Bugnon and his wife Karine run the Artemisa Bugnon distillery. You probably already know their most famous absinthe, the La Clandestine.
In front of the distillery, we met our friends from all over the world. Some of them travel every year from the United States, Finland, Norway and other countries to Switzerland, just to go to the Fête de l’Absinthe.
After a couple of glasses of absinthe and some delicious Crème d’Absinthe (absinthe egg liqueur), we boarded the bus that took us to this year’s surprise: a restaurant we have never been to before (thank you very much to Marc Thuillier, absinthe guru and the man who runs Absinthe Originals, for organizing everything and surprising us each year!).
The Ferme Robert not only served us a yummy cheese fondue, but also some delicious absinthe that the owners distilled themselves. The restaurant is situated at the foot of the tall circle of cliffs, the “Creux du Van”, the oldest nature reserve in Switzerland. Before eating, we all stood outside enjoying a glass of absinthe, when it started to rain and we got showered with hailstones. Some of the absintheurs decided to go with the flow and use mother nature herself as the world’s largest absinthe fountain.
For the end of the meal, we got some ice cream soufflé, made with absinthe of course.
Shortly before midnight, we took the bus back to Couvet. Next to the Hotel de l’Aigle, some of us enjoyed the end of the evening with a couple of bottles of Belgian beer – a little change from absinthe. 🙂
Saturday, June 18th
This is the day when the actual Fête de l’Absinthe takes place.
On several stands, absinthe from different distilleries was offered, along with some local specialties, such as cheese and absinthe chocolate.
This year, we took the time to spend more time with our favorite distillers from the Val-de-Travers (many of them former bootleggers), and visit their distilleries.
The Valote Martin Distillery in Boveresse was our first stop on Saturday. Since 2014, the distillery has been run by Philippe Martin who took over the absinthe distillation from his father, who taught him the art of absinthe making. Most of the herbs are cultivated in the distillery’s own garden, right in front of the house. Of course, we also tried some of his absinthes, such as Absinthe L’Originale or Absinthe La Grenouillarde.
After lunch, we went to the distillery of Willy Bovet in Môtiers. All of the herbs used for his absinthe originate from the Val-de-Travers where they are harvested by hand. He offered us to taste some absinthe and we couldn’t say no to this offer. We tried Absinthe Nostalgie Paris 1900 which is aged in a barrel and sold in bottles painted especially for Monsieur Bovet, and a new limited edition (we’ll tell you more soon).
In the afternoon, we visited the Maison de l’Absinthe in Môtiers. This absinthe museum, which opened in 2014, is dedicated to the history of the green fairy, conveying it in an exciting way. The museum offers more than old documents: it has its own bar and a herb garden. During our visit, there was a temporary exhibition of items used to hide the production and the sale of absinthe in the period of the absinthe ban.
We discovered that to avoid detection, some rather crafty bootleggers used to sell what appeared to be cans of peas and carrots, but really contained their own absinthe. A wonderful exhibit at the museum recounts the story of a boy at primary school who was set the task of writing about doing the laundry, “faire la lessive”. His teacher was shocked when he wrote a description of how to distill absinthe, and sent his mother a note to warn her that her son was talking about things better left unsaid! It turns out that she distilled secretly in the bathroom, and always explained to the son that she was just doing the laundry!
In the evening, we met our friends in Diane’s garden in Boveresse, to enjoy a barbecue and some more glasses of absinthe together. In her private bar, she has a selection of different absinthe, some of it very rare. Some of our friends even brought some vintage absinthe, over a hundred years old that we tasted with great pleasure (very precious stuff, one glass passed between many people, a sip of a bygone era).
Sunday, June 19th
Unfortunately, Sunday is always the last day of the absinthe festival. As opposed to previous years, this time instead of just heading home to Freiburg, we managed to fit in a few more distilleries!
After an ample breakfast, we just had to cross the street to visit Christophe Racine in his distillery, where we enjoyed the first absinthe of the day. We’ll tell you more about this distillery soon…
Afterwards, we drove to Denise Prisi in Fleurier, who offered us a warm welcome at her home. She is a very talented potter, responsible for pretty much all the ceramic absinthe fountains you can find in use at the various absinthe distilleries in the Val-de-Travers, most custom made, inspired by the distillers themselves (Willy Bovet’s cat features on his one). You will be able to find her unique creations on our website soon.
At the end of the day, we went to Gaudentia Persoz in Couvet. In her distillery she makes top quality absinthe, in vanishingly small quantities, including our Absinthe Blanche Neige.
Read more about the absinthe festival at the offical website of the Fête de l’Absinthe (in French only).
You can discover all photos of the weekend on our Facebook page.
We are already looking forward to next year and to meet old friends and new friends in Boveresse! If you have been to the absinthe festival as well, we would love to hear your story and your experiences.