Absinthe had a bad rap for a long time. It was blamed for causing people to commit heinous crimes and condemned for making drinkers go insane. We now know that these allegations are rubbish, but some people still don’t realize the real stuff is legal, incredibly potent and damn delicious. Whether you enjoy it in a cocktail or prefer it prepared with a classic drip, absinthe is a spirit you need to get to know better. To help you on your road to discovery, these six bars across the country are serving the best foreign and domestic absinthe bottlings in settings that’ll teleport you back to Paris circa the days of Hemingway.
The Best Absinthe Bars in America
Maison Premiere, Brooklyn, NY
This trendy Williamsburg bar has the biggest absinthe selection in NYC (and an even bigger wait time if you don’t make a reservation). Inspired by hotel lobbies and Parisian cafes, the bar’s white marble surfaces and secret garden backyard will transport you to a destination far away as you enjoy your favorite glass of the green stuff. Signature absinthe cocktails and more than 30 types of oysters will have you sipping and slurping for hours.
The Old Absinthe House, New Orleans, LA
This 200-year-old watering hole may not have the biggest or best selection of absinthe in America, but its legacy makes it far more legendary than shiny, new places with mile-long menus. Originally manned by an outlaw pirate by the name of Jean Lafitte, The Old Absinthe House has welcomed many celebrities throughout history and survived prohibition. It remains a French Quarter staple where you can stop in for an icy Absinthe Frappe to beat the NOLA heat.
Absinthe Room, Detroit, MI
Once home to the wealthy lumber baron David Whitney Jr, this 1890s mansion has been transformed into a charming bar, restaurant and event space that will make you feel like part of the 19th century upper echelon. Ascend to Ghostbar on the third floor, and enter into the adjacent Absinthe Room where you can sip the green fairy from gorgeous glassware and oggle ornate absinthe spoons. Every Sunday from noon to close, the bar hosts a happy hour during which you can enjoy $6 Death in the Afternoon cocktails alongside absinthe-flamed lamb chops and shrimp.
The Secret Society Lounge, Portland, OR
Vintage Paris collides with early 20th century Pacific Northwest vibes at this dimly lit cocktail den. Nestled inside a Victorian-era hall that’s part ballroom and part recording studio, Secret Society Lounge features local distillers and winemakers in addition to a well-rounded absinthe list. Take it straight with water from the drip or enjoy it in a classic cocktail like the Corpse Reviver #2.
The Green Hour, Nashville, TN
By day, this Nashville cafe is the place to get your fix of everything chocolate, coffee and wine. But by night, a glowing green light in the window alerts passersby that it’s been transformed into The Green Hour, an absinthe-centric bar that serves more than a dozen bottles alongside personal drip fountains and absinthiana. If you don’t feel like taking it straight, go for a cocktail like the Tom Ford, made with Dolin Blanc vermouth, gin, Chartreuse, apple-louched absinthe and orange bitters.
Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, Seattle, WA
This Seattle restaurant and bar celebrates the spirit of the Bayou with expertly-prepared Cajun food and absinthe galore. You can enjoy a single glass of the green fairy or taste a flight of three different kinds, whether you choose one of their pre-set combos or wish to customize your own. They have plenty of classic cocktails featuring the spirit alongside their own signature potions like the Sunflower—absinthe, gin, St-Germain, lemon juice, triple sec—if you want to make things more interesting.