An Early Absinthe Club, 1876

An excerpt from a pamphlet published by the U.S. Brewer's Association, ‪A Solution of the Temperance Problem‬, ‪Proposed by the Government of Switzerland‬ references a late 19th century absinthe drinking club.

 

"It has been statistically demonstrated beyond doubt, THAT DRUNKENNESS is infinitely more prevalent in localities where the various kinds of distilled drinks preponderate, than in the wine producing regions. The same is true of fatal accidents growing out of intoxication. 

Dismissing the subject of the effects of increasing inebriety, the Bureau devotes much space to the discussion of the causes of this growing tendency to excesses, summing up its observations in the following statement of principal causes: 1. The modern development of the industries, combined with factory occupation; 2. Failure of grape crops, the ravages of the phylloxera and the constantly growing augmentation of tastes upon, and the consequent enhancement of, the price of wine ,- 3. The cheapness of ardent spirits,’ 4. The effects of industrialism—the enemy of home-life, and promoter of tippling habits; 5. The disproportionate increase of drinking places; 6. The deterioration of the quality of drinks, caused by a defective system of taxation ; 7. The increasing consumption of absynthe.

By way of illustrating the character of modern French drinking habits, the report cites the fact that in 1876 a number of Parisian women formed an Absynthe Club and adopted by-laws prescribing that on the days of meeting the members of the club must wholly abstain from the use of solid food, in the place of which latter absynthe was to be consumed to the extent of the drinker’s ability. This competitive drinking bout had for one of its incidental objects the election of a presiding officer, inasmuch as the member who could drink most without showing signs of intoxication, was declared president of the club. "