Absinthe is the legendary liquor of nineteenth and early twentieth century Europe. It was a drink that was favored by great artists and intellectuals before being banned by most countries for most of the twentieth century. Absinthe or the “Green Fairy” has made a terrific comeback since most countries have now lifted the ban in the wake of new discoveries that proved it does not contain substances that are harmful to humans. Since the lifting of the ban great deal of interest has been generated in the drink and the elaborate serving ritual. In this article we will see how to drink absinthe following two traditional rituals.
Absinthe is anise flavored bitter liquor made from several alpine herbs. Wormwood or Artemisia absinthium is the main herb used in its preparation. Wormwood contains thujone a chemical that is widely believed to produce effects similar to cannabis. However, new research has proved that the effects of thujone are largely overstated. Absinthe was very popular amongst great painters and writers, some famous names included Vincent van Gogh, Ernest Hemmingway, Pablo Picasso, and Oscar Wilde.
Absinthe is not like any other spirit and an elaborate ritual is followed in its preparation. Traditional French and Czech rituals are the two most followed rituals used when serving absinthe.
The traditional French ritual requires a bottle of absinthe, absinthe spoon, absinthe fountain, sugar cube, absinthe glass, and ice cold water. A shot of absinthe (1.5 ounces) is poured in a special absinthe glass. An absinthe slotted or perforated spoon is placed over the glass and a sugar cube placed over it. Ice cold water is slowly dripped over the sugar cube from an absinthe fountain. As the water drips over the sugar cube it dissolves the sugar and falls in the glass. Once the sugar has completely dissolved some more ice water is added in the glass to further dilute the absinthe. Generally two parts of water to one part of absinthe is used. As absinthe gets diluted it turns cloudy white or opaque, this is called the louche effect. This happens as the essential oils from herbs contained in absinthe precipitate. The absinthe is now ready to be served.
The Czech ritual is more modern and more fun. One shot of absinthe (1.5 ounces) is poured in absinthe glass and absinthe spoon is placed on the glass with a sugar cube. The sugar cube and the spoon is then dipped in absinthe and withdrawn. The absinthe soaked sugar cube is then lighted with a lighter. As the flames engulf the sugar cube it caramelizes. The spoon is then dipped in the glass and ice cold water is added to further dilute the absinthe. As water is added the absinthe turns opaque white due to louche effect. The drink is then served.
A note of caution, absinthe has high alcohol content (about 140-proof) and should be consumed in moderation. The best way to drink absinthe is to sip it slowly to experience the subtle and unique effects of the herbs.
Special absinthe spoons, absinthe glasses, and absinthe fountains add to the aura and mystique of absinthe. You can buy absinthe and absinthe accessories from several online stores. Some of the best absinthe essence and other absinthe accessories are available on absinthekit.com, one of the most trusted sites dealing in absinthe and related products.