The Hash Club of Paris

Article by Dave Chachere, Dope Magazine


By the time Nancy Reagan’s America warned us to “Just Say No” to drugs, the America of Ken Kesey already had “Hell Yes!” tattooed across its lower back. People like Kesey were pioneers and proud of it, but they weren’t the first countercultural figures. To meet some of the bravest explorers of the psychedelic wilderness you’d have to head back to 1854. Have your carriage driver drop you at the creepy and dilapidated Hotel de Lauzun, just behind Notre Dame, smack in the center of the City of Light.

Welcome to Club des Hachichins, Paris’ premiere psychedelic dining club. Arab attire is encouraged, but not required. Refreshments will be served.

What is this green pudding? I’m glad you asked. This is dawamesk, the official drink of the CdH: Coffee, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, sugar, orange juice and butter. Trust me, you’ll love it. Why is it green? Great question. It could be the ground pistachios or it could be the Moroccan hash, but the radioactive green of dawamesk probably came from the crushed cantharides beetles, the same ones we use to make “Spanish fly.” Bon apetit!

The CdH guest list is world-class. Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac frequent the list. The skinny guy sulking in the corner is the Parisian poet Charles Baudelaire. And the big, half-African guy with the crazy hair? That would be Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.

In those days, hash was all the rage in the artistic and literary Parisian scene, but it wasn’t new to France. Way back in 1798 Napoleon started looking for ways to stir things up in Europe, and he thought invading Egypt would be a good way to warm up for the big game. It turned out to be a military flop, but a public relations bonanza. It generated some amazing postcards, and one of Bonaparte’s soldiers discovered the great tablet that was the key to the language of the Pharaohs: The Rosetta Stone. Meanwhile, some other French soldiers discovered the small greenish tablet that was the key to getting stoned in the land of the Pharaohs: hashish.

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