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The Fée Verte Absinthe Forum - The Oldest, Largest, Most Authoritative Absinthe Forum. > Absinthe & Absinthiana > General Absinthe Discussion
ellen
Absinthe was a drink of the masses in the 1890s, right? It's a fair bet it didn't cost (proportionately, after appropriate inflation adjustment) as much as the latest thing from the Pernot distillery costs us. Absinthe is growing in popularity, and while the marketing aim right now is to sell it as a luxury item, there are bound to be cheaper mass market versions before long…

Does anyone on the forum know what prices were like for a bottle of absinthe in the pre-ban era? Those old pictures of French farmers drinking it -- and using a fountain, no less! -- after the day's labor suggests it must have been very "affordable" in the Belle Epoche.

Ellen
G&C
There was a complete support industry for Absinthe production 120 years ago that no longer exists. Then add in the taxes, middle men, retail markup…
ellen
QUOTE(G&C @ Nov 7 2011, 03:16 AM) *

There was a complete support industry for Absinthe production 120 years ago that no longer exists. Then add in the taxes, middle men, retail markup…


Yes, I'm not surprised prices are high for something that is handcrafted in relatively small batches. Also, there was a large network of "organic" herb producers back then because the pharmaceutical system of the time depended on it.
Tibro
Remember too that state and federal taxes on distilled spirits is based on the alcohol percentage. As absinthe is a higher proof spirit you pay proportionally more in taxes.
Jaded Prole
There are inferior oil mixes that could be cheaper but I doubt that they will come down in price or that the appeal will grow for anise based liquors -- especially in difficult economic times. It would be nice to see the Spanish Deva on the shelves for $20.00 but I don't see it happening.









I think the 99% drink beer.
Aggelos
QUOTE
Absinthe was a drink of the masses in the 1890s, right? It's a fair bet it didn't cost (proportionately, after appropriate inflation adjustment) as much as the latest thing from the Pernot distillery costs us.


Really ? Depends on what you wanted to drink really… A quality product was expensive allright.
An indicator I have is that a bottle of a pernod Fils (1L) was worth a worker's daily wages.
It gets me to approx $90/Liter (using the French minimum salary and converting it to $)
Kirk
Absinthe could never be cheap, alcohol is expensive to make, absinthe has more of it, now add the large herb bill, the largest of any liquor.
sbmac
Folks back then didn't have cable TV, internet porn, cars, or cell phone bills. They had to spend their money on something.
Provenance
Ellen,

If you would like to see absinthe cost less, try showing us your tits. It's possible that a discount could be arranged.
ellen
QUOTE(Provenance @ Nov 7 2011, 03:59 PM) *

Ellen,

If you would like to see absinthe cost less, try showing us your tits. It's possible that a discount could be arranged.


In your dreams -- and since I'm probably old enough to be your grandma, maybe not such pleasant dreams…

"Behold! her bosom and half her side----
A sight to dream of, not to tell!
And she is to sleep by Christabel" -- Coleridge, Christabel

Provenance
I suppose that's an alternative to a standard introduction. On the other hand, given how cleverly disguised the Entrance Hall is, with its cryptic message, Newcomers, introduce yourself here first, perhaps that's too much to ask.

On the third hand, you do get bonus points for reading Coleridge. I recommend Ne Plus Ultra.
ellen
QUOTE(Aggelos @ Nov 7 2011, 12:54 PM) *

QUOTE
Absinthe was a drink of the masses in the 1890s, right? It's a fair bet it didn't cost (proportionately, after appropriate inflation adjustment) as much as the latest thing from the Pernot distillery costs us.


Really ? Depends on what you wanted to drink really… A quality product was expensive allright.
An indicator I have is that a bottle of a pernod Fils (1L) was worth a worker's daily wages.
It gets me to approx $90/Liter (using the French minimum salary and converting it to $)


Either those French farm workers were very rich then, or they were drinking something more plebeian…
sbmac
Nicely done Ellen… you should have shown him your tits just to teach him a lesson!
Artemis
QUOTE
Absinthe was a drink of the masses in the 1890s, right? It's a fair bet it didn't cost (proportionately, after appropriate inflation adjustment) as much as the latest thing from the Pernot distillery costs us.


Beer is a drink of the masses today, but everything from bottled badger piss to the ale celestial is called beer. The cost varies accordingly on all levels.
Aggelos
QUOTE(ellen @ Nov 7 2011, 05:51 PM) *

Either those French farm workers were very rich then, or they were drinking something more plebeian…


Yup they would drink "absinthe". Oil mixes (yes even then, I have proof of that), macerated absinthe with low quality alcohol colorated with zinc sulfate or antimony chloride.

Imagine the worst crap possible, and then ponder why people were sick of absinthisme
ellen
QUOTE(Aggelos @ Nov 7 2011, 05:40 PM) *

QUOTE(ellen @ Nov 7 2011, 05:51 PM) *

Either those French farm workers were very rich then, or they were drinking something more plebeian…


Yup they would drink "absinthe". Oil mixes (yes even then, I have proof of that), macerated absinthe with low quality alcohol colorated with zinc sulfate or antimony chloride.

Imagine the worst crap possible, and then ponder why people were sick of absinthisme


I suppose that is what we can look forward to then, when "absinthe" makes it to the corner liquor store: EverClear with sugar, flavorings and green food dye.

OK, I'll resign myself to paying $50-$90 a bottle for the foreseeable future…
Absomphe
How very pragmatic of you.

Besides, if you're old enough to be Provenance's grandma, how long could that possibly be. harhar.gif
Tibro
Bottled badger piss with pickled tiger penis. That'd make a man of ya.

And your tits would be no worse off for it either, in all probability.

But the price…
ellen
QUOTE(Absomphe @ Nov 7 2011, 06:31 PM) *

How very pragmatic of you.

Besides, if you're old enough to be Provenance's grandma, how long could that possibly be. harhar.gif


I have no idea how old he or you may be physically. But the mental ages shine through.
Absomphe
Thanks, granny.

We're precocious like that.
sbmac
Abs, I've heard you're so old you keep your rubber nose in a glass next to your bed.
Artemis
QUOTE
I suppose that is what we can look forward to then, when "absinthe" makes it to the corner liquor store: EverClear with sugar, flavorings and green food dye.


You can look backward to see that.

QUOTE
$50-$90 a bottle for the foreseeable future…


And beyond.
Absomphe
Indeed.


QUOTE(sbmac @ Nov 7 2011, 01:38 PM) *

Abs, I've heard you're so old you keep your rubber nose in a glass next to your bed.


True, but those teeth are original equipment.
ellen
[quote]$50-$90 a bottle for the foreseeable future… [/quote]

And beyond.
[/quote]

Bargain basement prices (at least compared to collecting old Bordeaux).

A bottle of Un Emile 68 Blanche arrived today from Deutschland, together with two sisters -- an Edouard and a PF 1901. I've opened the blanche and I'm sipping it now. As a granny, I decree that life is too short to drink bad absinthe. This absinthe tastes like a silver cloud that has rained itself down over Eve's garden, to the astonishment of green snails and purple butterflies… [Good heavens -- snail butter with absinthe! Isn't that how it was supposed to be done? I must get some escargot…]

Anyway, it needs a mass market advertising slogan. It is intended to be marketed especially to women, I believe? Mmm… How about:

"If men were as refreshing as Emile Blanche, you would be young forever"
Artemis
A wine collector complaining about the cost of absinthe is like a mosquito collector complaining about the cost of blood.
Green Baron
An interesting passage from Chemical Composition of Vintage Preban Absinthe with Special Reference to
chop.gif, Fenchone, Pinocamphone, Methanol, Copper, and Antimony Concentrations


QUOTE
The Exemplary Character of Preban Pernod Fils Absinthe.

Pernod Fils was, by some distance, the largest of all absinthe manufacturers of the preban era. The center of the French absinthe industry was in the Franche-Comte and specifically the town of Pontarlier in the Haut Doubs. A 1905 table listing all the Pontarlier absinthe distilleries, 25 in all, showed they operated collectively 151 stills and produced in total just over 70 000 hL of absinthe (47). Of this, Pernod Fils alone operated 60 stills and produced 40 000 hL, in other words, more than the other 24 manufacturers together. Aside from their dominance in the French market, Pernod Fils was also almost certainly the largest exporter of absinthe, distributing their product in the U.S., U.K., throughout Europe, and in all the French colonies in South America, Africa, and Australasia (48).

So dominant was Pernod Fils that the company name became a generic word for absinthe; consumers would automatically order “un Pernod” rather than “une absinthe”. To capitalize on this, several offshoots of the Pernod family set up rival distilleries, some of them- Edouard Pernod, Legler-Pernod, Gempp-Pernod- being substantial companies but many of them much smaller, undercutting Pernod’s prices while capitalizing on the fact that their product could also be called un Pernod and thus be assured of at least a degree of commercial success. Pernod Fils was not only the biggest manufacturer but widely regarded at the time as the best. It sold for a premium price: at wholesale level, 2 fr per liter, versus 1.75 fr for Berger, 1.65 fr for Edouard Pernod, and 1.55 fr for Premier Fils, all three in themselves premium marques(49).
ellen
QUOTE(Artemis @ Nov 7 2011, 10:35 PM) *

A wine collector complaining about the cost of absinthe is like a mosquito collector complaining about the cost of blood.


Good bon mot. But I'm not a wine collector… just a would-be wine collector.
ellen
QUOTE
Pernod Fils was not only the biggest manufacturer but widely regarded at the time as the best. It sold for a premium price: at wholesale level, 2 fr per liter, versus 1.75 fr for Berger, 1.65 fr for Edouard Pernod, and 1.55 fr for Premier Fils, all three in themselves premium marques(49).


Good data, thank you! 2fr / liter wholesale on the high end… Now we just need to find out what a day's wages were for a working class person… Don't the bar serving dishes of the period have prices like 1.75fr per glass? Was that the mark-up? Or was that later on?
Artemis
You should avoid quoting seven inches of text to make a response; it aggravates people.

Those prices were for the BEST absinthes, not for the crap for which poorer people had to settle (to which Aggelos had reference, the stuff bordering on poison).

To wrap up nicely the snails, the wine and the tits:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgLmx_FcWPs
ellen
QUOTE(Artemis @ Nov 7 2011, 11:24 PM) *


To wrap up nicely the snails, the wine and the tits:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgLmx_FcWPs


Steve Martin is no comedic genius.

This is comedic genius:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0kJHQpvgB8
thegreenimp
Buy a bottle of Herbsaint Original, it's only $35.00.
ellen
QUOTE(thegreenimp @ Nov 8 2011, 12:27 AM) *

Buy a bottle of Herbsaint Original. it's only $35.00.


I will try that. Thank you!
ellen
QUOTE
Now we just need to find out what a day's wages were for a working class person… Don't the bar serving dishes of the period have prices like 1.75fr per glass? Was that the mark-up? Or was that later on?


Surprisingly hard to find wage data from 1905, but the average daily wage was well under $1. I've found mentions of daily wages of 22 cents, 38 cents and 44 cents. There were strikes in 1905 because wages had gone down. There was a revolution in Russia. [Not the Revolution, just a revolution.] Anarchists were everywhere; the transit station signs were flashing Orange Alerts constantly… [oh, wait, that was 2003].

So typical working class wages were half a dollar or less. But what was that in Francs? I'm not finding mentions of exchange rates.
Artemis
I posted that clip in spite of Steve Martin being in it, not because he was in it. Personally I would have cast Redd Foxx or James Carville in that scene.
ellen
QUOTE(Artemis @ Nov 8 2011, 12:44 AM) *

I posted that clip in spite of Steve Martin being in it, not because he was in it. Personally I would have cast Redd Foxx or James Carville in that scene.


James Carville… is more like a spicy crawfish boil thrown on (Murdoch) newspapers, than he is like escargot… Rather yummy, in fact.
Tibro
QUOTE(ellen @ Nov 8 2011, 12:07 AM) *

But I'm not a wine collector… just a would-be wine collector.

If that means, "Less schmoozing, more boozing" then I heartily approve.

Omar, what a gal.

A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread-and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness-
O, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
Artemis
Ellen has shown us her Willendorfs.

Now that's clever.

abs-cheers.gif
Aggelos
Ok right. France, 1900, average daily wage in Paris is 5F.
So let's take 40% of what I previously said, and it would be about $35/L

Keep in mind though at the time, Pernod produce 30000L/day, not the same scale…
ellen
QUOTE(Aggelos @ Nov 8 2011, 09:55 AM) *

Ok right. France, 1900, average daily wage in Paris is 5F.
So let's take 40% of what I previously said, and it would be about $35/L

Keep in mind though at the time, Pernod produce 30000L/day, not the same scale…


So a bistro of the period would buy 1L bottles for 2fr each and sell "doses" for around 1.25-1.75fr each, to judge from the prices on the bistro plates. It's easy to see why the bistros were promoting the stuff. The reservoir in a Pontarlier glass holds 4cl, so a 1L bottle yields 25 doses, and a bistro's materials cost per dose was 2fr/25 = 0.08fr.

Let's suppose the farm laborers in the photo with the absinthe fountain worked on a farm that owned the fountain and bought bottles wholesale, so that the cost per glass was again around 0.08fr (and that would be for the expensive stuff). Even if the farm laborers had to pay the costs, if they made a few F per day, it would be affordable for them, and even more so for a cheaper absinthe than Pernod.


ellen
QUOTE(Tibro @ Nov 8 2011, 05:57 AM) *

QUOTE(ellen @ Nov 8 2011, 12:07 AM) *

But I'm not a wine collector… just a would-be wine collector.

If that means, "Less schmoozing, more boozing" then I heartily approve.

Omar, what a gal.

A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread-and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness-
O, Wilderness were Paradise enow!


I'm basically a foodie. I "collect" wines just enough to have something nice on hand to pair with any food I make, plus a few special occasion bottles. (And no, I don't collect old Bordeaux.) For a simple tipple, I like Beaujolais and a bit of cheese or fruit -- and now also absinthe. I like to try things out, especially if they are products of an old culture -- Chinese thousand year eggs, Japanese matcha, Ethiopian raw beef, Italian grappa, French absinthe…

One deep piece of wisdom I've acquired doing this: don't ever drink Chinese Shao Xing wine. Cook with it; it gives Chinese dishes a more authentic flavor than sherry will. But don't drink it. It tastes like barley wine (which is already gross!), but it will give you a hangover that will make you want to die and that you will remember for the rest of your life.


Tibro
QUOTE(ellen @ Nov 8 2011, 05:44 PM) *

don't ever drink Chinese Shao Xing wine. Cook with it;

Yeah, there's a similar whine somewhere in Lose-i-han-a. Stay far away if you're inexperienced. Or under pressure. 'though I've heard it mellows with age.
Aggelos
QUOTE(ellen @ Nov 8 2011, 05:05 PM) *

So a bistro of the period would buy 1L bottles for 2fr each and sell "doses" for around 1.25-1.75fr each, to judge from the prices on the bistro plates.


Careful there ! Which bistro plates ? Are we talking "priced saucers" ? Because the >1F ones are post 1915, when the inflation started because of the war. It's more likely the price was around 50c (probably less although I'd like to see a correct reference for this one)

QUOTE(ellen @ Nov 8 2011, 05:05 PM) *

The reservoir in a Pontarlier glass holds 4cl,

1.5 to 6 with an average of 3, so 33 doses per bottle and hence more like 7c per glass (cost)

Considering you have to achieve rentability, you'd have to sell the stuff at least 21 (x3) to 35c per glass (average) to achieve it.

QUOTE(ellen @ Nov 8 2011, 05:05 PM) *


Let's suppose the farm laborers in the photo with the absinthe fountain worked on a farm that owned the fountain


Hardly probable, fountains were, AFAIK scarcely possessed by particulars

QUOTE(ellen @ Nov 8 2011, 05:05 PM) *

and bought bottles wholesale, so that the cost per glass was again around 0.08fr (and that would be for the expensive stuff). Even if the farm laborers had to pay the costs, if they made a few F per day, it would be affordable for them, and even more so for a cheaper absinthe than Pernod.


Now, while I agree on the basic principles, I am not sure you can compare this exercise (based on many suppositions) to what the litterature reports on the behaviour of the average citizen at the time regarding absinthe

So far in what I have read, only office workers, intellectuals, doctors, military officers, etc, ie people with financial comfort, tended to select a good asbinthe and go for a Pernod and nothing else.

Your average worker would go to a cheap bar and buy cheap products (cf Zola for example). A Pernod bottle in a family would be the equivalent of the old bottle of scotch at the bottom of the cupbard and you have been sipping for years, because it was a gift, and an expensive one.
Jaded Prole
Notice the farm workers are in a group. They probably pitched in on the bottle so all could enjoy both high quality absinthe and camaraderie and felt it a worthy enough time for a photo (which in those days was a bid deal).
ellen
QUOTE(Aggelos @ Nov 9 2011, 09:55 AM) *


Careful there ! Which bistro plates ? Are we talking "priced saucers" ? Because the >1F ones are post 1915, when the inflation started because of the war. It's more likely the price was around 50c (probably less although I'd like to see a correct reference for this one)

QUOTE(ellen @ Nov 8 2011, 05:05 PM) *

The reservoir in a Pontarlier glass holds 4cl,

1.5 to 6 with an average of 3, so 33 doses per bottle and hence more like 7c per glass (cost)

Considering you have to achieve rentability, you'd have to sell the stuff at least 21 (x3) to 35c per glass (average) to achieve it.


Thanks, this is much better than my back-of-envelope guesstimations.
ellen
QUOTE(Jaded Prole @ Nov 9 2011, 01:11 PM) *

Notice the farm workers are in a group. They probably pitched in on the bottle so all could enjoy both high quality absinthe and camaraderie and felt it a worthy enough time for a photo (which in those days was a bid deal).


It's true, you can't tell from the picture whether this was a habitual after-work gathering, or a special occasion. The fact that there is a fountain on the table is a clue. Either the farmers owned it collectively, in which case this was probably something they did regularly, or more likely a wealthier person (the farm owner?) owned the fountain, in which case we can't tell whether this was a regular gathering or a one-off.


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