Absinthe glass is a very important component of the absinthe ritual along with absinthe spoon and other accessories. Before we discuss the various types and styles of absinthe glass, a brief introduction to absinthe is necessary.
Absinthe is legendary liquor with a lot of history and culture behind it. It was first invented by a French doctor Dr. Pierre Ordinaire in Switzerland in 1797. It was considered a digestive tonic initially. The first absinthe distillery was started in Switzerland by Henri-Louis Pernod. However, in 1805 Pernod moved production to a bigger distillery in Pontarlier, France. Due to its unique effects absinthe became a very popular drink of the upper class in Europe and in the nineteenth century it rivaled wine in popularity. Initially, it was wine based; however, in 1870’s the destruction of vineyards forced distillers to use grain alcohol. This democratized absinthe and made it even more popular as the common man could now afford it. Absinthe was affectionately called the ‘Green Fairy’.
Absinthe is liquor made from herbs like green anise, fennel, Melissa, and wormwood. Wormwood contains a substance called thujone which is responsible for the special effects of absinthe. The herbs also contain essential oils which precipitate when ice cold water is added to absinthe. Absinthe was a favorite drink of very famous artists and writers of the twentieth century. Prominent names included Vincent Van Gogh and Oscar Wilde.
Absinthe drink is prepared in an elaborate ritual which also adds to its aura and mystique. Absinthe is not your everyday drink like whiskey or gin. Sugar has to be added along with ice-cold water to prepare the absinthe drink. There are two types of rituals, the traditional French ritual and the more modern Czech ritual. Both rituals require absinthe glass, absinthe spoon, sugar cube, and ice-cold water. The absinthe glass has a very special look, and it is larger than the normal water glass. The absinthe glass has an integrated reservoir at the bottom which is filled with absinthe.
The different types of absinthe glass are Swirl glass, Chope Yvonne glass, East glass, Cordon glass, and the Reservoir and Pontarlier glass.
The swirl glass is a standard café glass that was used in the nineteenth century. This type of glass was used for absinthe and other drinks. The swirl design is used as a mark for measuring the amount of absinthe. These types of glasses were used in the cafés of Europe till the beginning of the twentieth century.
Chope Yvonne glass is tall and narrow like present day mugs. It was used for drinking beer and absinthe. These glasses have a line etched to mark the absinthe dose.
East glass is a large Y shaped glass. It was named ‘East’ as it originated in the east of France. The dose mark is etched on the glass. This glass has a very wide mouth and a long “Les Cuilleres” type of spoon is required for the absinthe ritual.
Cordon glass is a rare type of absinthe glass it has a cordon around the lower part of the glass which acts a dose marker. These types of glasses are rare and original pieces from the nineteenth century command thousands of dollars a piece.
Reservoir and Pontarlier glass are around six inches high and have a reservoir at the bottom to hold the absinthe. These are also rare and collectors pay thousands of dollars for original pieces. The Pontarlier glass is a type of reservoir glass but it has a distinct outward swell. These glasses were made exclusively for drinking absinthe and its production stopped when absinthe was banned in Europe.
The common thing that these glasses had was that they were made from fine crystal and the louching effect of absinthe looked stunning in them. Absinthe spoons were also made in different styles and designs. The most famous design was the Eiffel tower design; it is the most sought absinthe spoon design.