How To Drink Absinthe
When diluted with water, absinthe becomes cloudy due to the presence of anise oils called terpenes. As terpenes are soluble in a liquid of above 30% ethanol, they are initially clear in appearance. However, when diluted below the 30% threshold, the oils produce a cloudy precipitate.
Indeed, this phenomenon is referred to as “the louche” and plays an important role when serving absinthe.
What Is An Absinthe Spoon?
During the late 19th century, several accessories were introduced to Parisian cafés for serving absinthe. One of the most commonplace is a unique slotted spoon, which is used for louching, a process that we describe below.
Meanwhile, absinthe fountains are used for storing large quantities of ice water with taps for serving it into a glass. Similarly, specially-designed glasses are occasionally utilised for absinthe, which have bulges to indicate the recommended quantities of spirit and water to add.
French Absinthe Serving Method
Traditionally, absinthe is served in a small glass with a sugar cube, a spoon, and a carafe of ice water. Usually, the spoon is slotted as described above, but the rear of a regular teaspoon can be used too.
The spoon is then fixed onto the glass thanks to a small ridge that helps it sit securely in place. Afterwards, the sugar cube is placed on the spoon, and the water is carefully poured over it. The spoon can then be removed and used to stir the contents if desired.
Like adding droplets of water to whisky, louching releases the absinthe’s aromatic compounds and reveals its complex subtleties.
Both the decision to add the sugar cube and the quantity of water used are a matter of personal preference. Generally, a typical absinthe preparation will consist of one part absinthe and between three to five parts water.
Of course, this is the traditional way. Yet, absinthe is also a phenomenal cocktail ingredient!
Bohemian Absinthe Serving Method
Although the term provokes romantic imagery, the Bohemian method is quite recent and is Czech in origin. Indeed, it is a way that has been developed to serve Bohemian-style absinth from the Czech Republic.
Given that Czech Bohemian absinth doesn’t louche as described above, the French method serves little purpose. Therefore, a different serving method was created in order to retain the ceremonial aspect.
This particular process consists of using the spoon to pour the absinthe directly onto the sugar cube. As Bohemian absinth is very strong in alcohol, it easily catches fire when exposed to a lit match. Consequently, the sugar cube melts directly into the glass and water can be added to dilute it if desired.
Given that Bohemian-style absinth is often marketed alongside real absinthe, it’s easy to confuse the two. As a result, some people will use this serving method on the genuine article.
However, this process is discouraged with traditional absinthe. Not only does an open flame present a fire hazard, but it can also damage the absinthe’s flavours.
Now that you have read about serving absinthe, why don’t you learn more about the elusive spirit?