Absinthe is a mysterious drink with a wild reputation- one rumor has it that drinking absinthe can make you go crazy! It has also been purported that absinthe was what caused Van Gogh to chop off his ear and that it inspired Picasso's art. Although we don't know whether this is the case, we do know that drinking absinthe won't cause any craziness- at the worst, it will result in a painful hangover. To enjoy absinthe the right way, you have to properly use an absinthe spoon.
What is Absinthe?
The source of absinthe's reputation is the molecule thujone that it contains, which is considered to be a neurotoxin, causing hallucinogenic and psychoactive affects. Because of this, absinthe is colloquially called the green fairy or the green goddess. These days, however, the levels of thujone are controlled, so no amount of absinth will cause you to see any strange visions. The name "absinthe" comes from Artemisia absinthium, also called "grand wormwood."
Although many refer to absinthe as a liqueur, it is technically a spirit. It became very popular in the late 19th century in France, and was enjoyed by Ernest Hemingway, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso and Edgar Allan Poe. Because of its reputation as a hallucinogen and high alcohol content, absinthe was eventually banned in the U.S. and Europe. However, these bans were lifted in the 1990s, so absinthe lovers can again access this beloved drink. Some of the most popular Absinthe brands are Pernod, Vieux Pontarlier, and Leopold Bros Absinthe Verte.
Absinthe tastes primarily of anise, but it also has notes of herbs like hyssop, coriander and fennel. It is often diluted with water because of its overpowering flavor, and is a popular cocktail ingredient throughout the U.S. and Europe. However, the best way to serve absinthe is with an absinthe fountain! To drink absinthe the right way, you need an absinthe fountain, chilled water, absinthe glasses, absinthe spoons and sugar cubes.
How to Drink Absinthe Right
To enjoy absinthe with the traditional preparation, place a sugar cube on an absinthe spoon, and place this on top of the glass of absinthe. Then, hold this underneath the absinthe fountain, allowing iced water to slowly drip until the sugar has dissolved. At this point, there should be 4-5 parts water to 1 part absinthe. Then, enjoy a drink of classy absinthe!
This is the most traditional absinthe preparation, and it's often called the French Method. Although dripping water from a fountain is the classiest, you can also simply pour ice cold water from a carafe over the sugar cube. As the water dilutes the absinthe, the anise and fennel come out and cloud the drink. This cloudiness is called the louche, meaning "opaque" or "shady" in French.
Another method for preparing the absinthe drink is the Bohemian Method, which is a more recent development. To enjoy absinthe this way, the sugar cube is soaked in absinthe before being placed on the spoon. Then, it is set on fire and dropped into the glass of absinthe. Finally, a shot glass of water is poured in, putting out the flames. As flashy as this method is, experienced absinthe drinkers or absintheurs don't approve, because it can take away from the absinthe flavor.
Use Your Own Absinthe Spoon
To drink like a 19th century Parisian, all you have to do is assemble your own supplies for an absinthe ritual! Simply buy absinthe and all of the absinthe accessories necessary. These bar tools will add flair and class to your cocktail repertoire. You can find everything you need online at Original Absinthe or Ebay. These sites are full of absinthe collectibles, from antique absinthe spoons in the shape of the Eiffel tower to gold-plated absinthe fountains. Drink absinthe properly with your fancy fountain and spoon!