Bitter irony

Perhaps the most timeless and recognizable image associated with absinthe is the extraordinary poster for Absinthe Robette which was created by Belgian posterist Henri Privat-Livemont in 1896. Elegantly composed, it features a beautiful woman in a sheer gown elevating a glass of absinthe in admiration and wonder. The traditional implements of a perforated absinthe spoon and a sugar cube rest on top of the Yvonne glass. Note that the sugar cube is very large, as most sugar cubes were during this time period. Also note how the absinthe spoon has a slight hook at the tip. While not common, some absinthe spoons were designed this way in order to hold the spoon onto the rim more securely.

Beyond the sheer beauty of this poster, what is of note to absinthe enthusiasts is the brand name of Absinthe Robette. This poster was extremely well-known during its initial run, and has been reproduced countless times in the 100+ years since then, but to date, a bottle of Absinthe Robette has never been found to exist, despite numerous bottles of other brands such as Pernod Fils and Edouard Pernod having been discovered in old bars, upstairs attics and hidden caches over the years. Very little is known about Absinthe Robette in fact, except that it was a Belgian brand of absinthe (of which there were few) and that it was a verte. And yet the brand lives on in name forever, associated with the most iconic absinthe poster of all time.

Dear readers, if you happen to stumble upon a bottle of this undoubtedly fine refreshment, please get in touch with me immediately! I will be more than happy to help you carefully dispose of the contents, one sip at a time.

Absinthe Robette poster by Henri Privat-Livemont (1896)

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2 Comments

  1. kissthewookiee said,

    March 21, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Wonder if the foliage ‘smoke’ alludes to opiates or fiery rituals. Brilliant print.

    • March 21, 2012 at 1:54 pm

      You just have to try to lend fuel to the flamers, don’t ya? In actuality, ol’ Henri seems to like wispy curves, layered patterned designs and prominent nipples. Compare the Absinthe Robette poster to his Casino de Cabourg lithograph here.


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