The Spirit of Liberty
La Fée has already achieved cult status among celebrities, actors and musicians of the 21st century, and the owners of La Fée have been the first port of call for all their absinthe needs.
Johnny was our very first customer. The day our first delivery of absinthe was due to arrive in the UK, Depp sent his limo to our British headquarters while he was nearby filming ‘Sleepy Hollow’. The bottle was intended for the weekend, where he would fly off to visit to his ‘chemically enlightened’ friend Hunter S. Thompson, whom he played in the film ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’. The two ended up getting on so well that Hunter dug up his old clothes from the 70s and gave them to Depp to wear during shooting.
Manson’s then girlfriend, Dita Von Teese, emerged on stage at the UK album launch for 'The Golden Age Of Grotesque' drinking a glass of La Fée. She then proceeded to strip inside a giant sized absinthe glass and drenched herself with an absinthe-soaked sponge cut into the shape of a giant sugar cube. Manson performed several songs from his new record and showcased his absinthe inspired paintings.
Leonardo received a personal absinthe tutorial session whilst attending the £1 million UK premiere party for the movie ‘The Beach.’ Held in an old library building in London that had been specially converted with four themed floors decorated to reflect scenes from the film, DiCaprio spent the start of the evening in the VIP lounge’s absinthe den learning the ritual preparation with La Fée’s Marketing and Promotions manager. DiCaprio said he’d tried some crazy drinks while they’d been shooting out in Thailand, “but this stuff will be top of my list now.” Suffice to say that Mr DiCaprio spent the rest of the night becoming very merry indeed.
Eminem is another big fan of our work. He was so disappointed when the Met bar in London refused to serve him more than two glasses of absinthe, that he booked us to do an absinthe bar at his next after show party, which took place at the Astral strip bar in London’s Soho.
Damien Hirst, the new wave art scene’s cattle-splitting superstar, enjoys absinthe, and has previously worked on a series of absinthe inspired pieces.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Toulouse-Lautrec is most famous for his Moulin Rouge posters, but his paintings of the underbelly of Parisian society are highly respected.
A childhood accident permanently stunted his growth, and required him to use a walking stick. However, being an opportunistic absinthian, he would keep a drop of the green liquid in his hollowed out cane as he visited his beloved brothels and cabarets.
Absinthe was a source of inspiration to Oscar Wilde who wrote: "A glass of absinthe is as poetical as anything in the world, what difference is there between a glass of absinthe and a sunset."
Known for his amazing wit and scandalous lifestyle, Wilde was the great aesthete, glorifying beauty for beauty’s sake, in a series of sparkling plays, poems, fairy tales and essays.
Wilde’s lifestyle became too much for Victorian sensibilities, and he was imprisoned in 1895 for conducting a homosexual affair with Lord Alfred Douglas.
On his release, Wilde moved to France, his peacock spirit dulled by imprisonment and the rejection from a society that had previously thrilled to his dazzling talent and personality. Still, his spirit wasn’t entirely crushed – legend has it his dying words were ‘Either that wallpaper goes or I do’.
Vincent Van Gogh
One of the most famous drinkers of absinthe, there are countless theories as to why he cut off his ear. He suffered from hereditary mental illness for most of his life, but some are of the belief it was absinthe that led him to cutting off his ear and sending it to a French prostitute. Others would argue it wasn’t about the women at all! In a fit of rage after an argument with friend and fellow artist Paul Gauguin, Van Gogh cut his ear to symbolize the end of their friendship, believing that Gauguin had grown ‘deaf’ to his needs. There are countless more stories and theories – maybe it is a question never destined to be answered.
At the age of 35, Gauguin left his stock-broking career to devote time to the arts. Falling in with Impressionists, he shared accommodation with Vincent Van Gogh – but as illustrated in his diary, Van Gogh turned out to be the flat-mate from hell:
‘He ordered a light absinthe. Suddenly he flung the glass and its contents in my face. I managed to duck and grab him…..a few minutes later Vincent was in his own bed…not to awaken till morning. When he awoke he was perfectly calm and said to me: My dear Gauguin, I have a dim recollection I offended you last night.’
Three days later, on Christmas Eve, Van Gogh allegedly chased Gauguin down the street with a razor before Gauguin stared him to a halt. Later that night Van Gogh cut off his own ear.
In his last years, Gauguin wrote to his friend ‘I sit at my door, smoking a cigarette and sipping my absinthe, and I enjoy every day without a care in the world’.
Ernest Hemingway also testified to the Green Fairies effects. He wrote in his journal: ‘Got tight last night on absinthe. Did knife tricks’.
References to absinthe appear in many of Hemingway’s famous writings, including Death in the Afternoon (also known as his favorite drink, absinthe and champagne)and For Whom The Bell Tolls. He was a great fan, and a bad drunk, especially with his love for guns and knives.
Hemingway drank absinthe long after it was made illegal in most parts of the world. In Spain, he would have a few before running with the bulls in Pamplona, while it was also rumoured that he managed to have a few bottles around him whilst living in the United States.
In 1859 Manet produced the first great absinthe painting entitled ‘The Absinthe Drinker’. It caused a scandal at the salon where the selection committee refused to hang it. With café society being hijacked by absinthe, this portrait of a swaggering dandy drunkard (an actual friend of Manet) offended the establishment. They were used to seeing drunks depicted as pitiful, downtrodden wretches and this man’s pride and vitality scared them. The committee attacked the painting for its ‘vulgar realism’. And it wasn’t isolated criticism. As Manet wrote in a letter to the poet Baudelaire, ‘Insults are pouring down on me as thick as hail’.
Whatever the criticism, Manet’s painting marks the beginning of the Age of Absinthe.
Picasso’s artwork included pieces such as ‘Woman Drinking Absinthe’, and the sculpture ‘Absinthe Glass’.
Edgar Degas painting ‘L’Absinthe’ was never actually named that by the artist himself. Painted in 1876 and originally called ‘A sketch of a French Café,’ the title was finally changed in 1893 to L’Absinthe (the name the piece is known by today).