Absinthe Salon Opening

(87 Albion Street, Surry Hills)

Thank you, Gaye. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of this land.

I'm delighted to be here this evening. When we began our campaign for small bars, it was venues like this that we had in mind - intimate spaces where the company and the conversation could be enjoyed, an alternative to the beer barns which have been such a blight on our city.

Small bars are just one component - albeit an important one - of our efforts to revitalise the City and bring life and variety back to our laneways and small streets.

Sydney is a sophisticated city, and it needs venues places that have a whiff of style and individuality. Gaye and Joop have amply provided that here and Surry Hills is a prime location for Sydney's first absinthe salon.

Absinthe - or "the green fairy" as it was historically known - has had a long association with artists and the arts. Degas' famous painting is one everyone knows. Oscar Wilde, Toulouse-Lautrec, Baudelaire, van Gogh and Modigliani were all absinthe drinkers.

In the mid-19th century, it was even given to French troops as a treatment for malaria.

But the French wine industry mounted a successful campaign against the drink, with one critic saying it "makes you crazy and criminal, it provokes epilepsy and tuberculosis…it makes a ferocious beast of man, a martyr of woman and a degenerate of the infant".

So by 1915 it was banned in the US and through most of Europe and was not revived until the 1990s under more enlightened EU policies.

We hope our enlightened small bars policies will improve the range and diversity of meeting places for Sydneysiders and our visitors. We have already approved over 20 small bars across the Local Government Area, and more will follow.

I congratulate Gaye and Joop on this first for Sydney, and I wish them and the Absinthe Salon a happy and successful future.

Thank you.