How to Drink Absinthe - From the Traditional Absinthe Ritual to Cocktail Recipes
Absinthe can only be legally purchased in the U.S. for a period of ten years. Unfortunately, in the United States, alcoholic beverages must be "thujone-free," which means that all absinthes available there are far from being the real McCoy. Absinthe was originally popularized in France and Switzerland during the 1800s. It is a spirit, not a liquor with a high alcohol content. Absinthe is made traditionally with white grape-based spirits, anise and grand wormwood as well as other herbs such as fennel and coriander. One thing we hear all the time is that people say they want to try absinthe. Absinthe itself can be quite strong and can even make you feel sick if not served properly.
What is Absinthe?
Absinthe can be found in two main forms: Absinthe blanche and Absinthe verte. These are both white and green. Absinthe gets its famous green color from the herbs as they slough off chlorophyll during secondary maceration.
Absinthe's hallucinogenic qualities are not something you can talk about without mentioning them. Absinthe traditionally contains a very low amount of thujone which was widely believed cause hallucinations. You would have to drink the whole bottle to experience any effects. Then you would have plenty of other problems. Alcohol poisoning is basically when you get too much to drink. There is an extensive article where we cover everything about thujone effects, myths, facts, and reality.
An average person can easily associate the word absinthe, with specific images and thoughts. Most likely, it's hallucinations that come to mind. Maybe it's the strength of their spirit. Absinthes can range from 45% to 74% alcohol by volume (90 - 148 proof). You might think of late 1800s Paris and Oscar Wilde drinking the stuff as water. You could even think it's that Euro Trip scene where they actually see a green fairy (we love that comedy movie). By the way, there are many great absinthe-fuelled movies you need to watch! It doesn't matter what image someone thinks of when they mention absinthe. One thing is certain: over time, it has developed its own mythology that drinkers around the globe love and hate.
Absinthe isn't for beginners. You cannot just grab a bottle of absinthe and drink it straight. We don't think you would, but if you did, we can asure you that you won't ever do so again. Ever.
So without further ado, here is our essential guide on how to properly drink absinthe.
How to Drink Absinthe
Because absinthe has a strong taste and high alcohol content, it is not advised to drink it straight. Absinthe is strong enough to burn your tastebuds. It can also be dangerous if you consume too much. However, if served properly, absinthe can be enjoyed with a respect.
There are simple ways to consume absinthe and then there is the French way. The French, being what they are, decided that everything should have to be entirely ornate. Partly because absinthe was popularized in the late 1800s and the early 1900s. This traditional French method is known as an "absinthe ritual".
Absinthe Ritual and Its Purpose
The first time you try absinthe straight, it will be a memorable experience. An anise-flavored liquor is bitter and has a high proof, ranging from 45% to 74% ABV, 90 to 148 proof. Absinthe can be difficult to consume on its own and it is not recommended. The absinthe ritual with sugar, spoon and water are what help to calm it down. It is also proper way of drinking absinthe.
France was the first country to popularize this traditional recipe. It involves simple ingredients: absinthe, sugar, slotted spoon and ice-cold water. The sugar helps reduce the bitterness while the water dilutes and makes absinthe more delicious. This is why it is called a ritual. It allows the drinker to enjoy the entire experience including the visual transformation, rather than just the drink itself.
Put the absinthe into an absinthe glass. Fill the glass up to the lowest point or fill the bubble.
Place an absinthe slotted spoon on the top of your glass.
A small brick or lump of sugar can be placed on top of the absinthe spoon (they are being made specifically for this purpose).
Place the glass under the absinthe fountain and turn the valve sligtly on until water slowly drips onto the sugar.
Once the sugar has dissolved, you may turn on the fountain tap and increase the speed until the liquid reaches line 2 in your absinthe glasses. For optimum enjoyment, most people dilute absinthe with three to four equal measures of water, depending on the original strength of the absinthe.
Mix it up and enjoy.
You might be interested to know that it is perfectly acceptable to substitute an absinthe fountain with a carafe of water. This isn't quite as fancy, but it works in a pinch.
Further below is a list of all the tools you'll require if you're ready to live a life of absinthe consumption.
Flaming Absinthe Also Known as Czech Absinthe Ritual
A popular technique is to pour the absinthe onto the sugar cube and place it on the spoon. Then, light the flame. Allow the sugar melt into the absinthe. You can put out the flame with some club soda or cold water. Stir the liquid and then add some ice if required.
Absinthe is highly flammable liquid, meaning it can light easily on fire. Be careful with any flaming drink, be cautious. You should take some safety precautions. Make sure you have water and a fire extinguisher nearby. It's not a good idea if you are drunk to light alcohol. Be safe and keep your wits around you.
With Simple Syrup or Cold Water
After you have decided that you love the taste and texture of absinthe you may want to prepare it the old-fashioned, a simple way. Take one ounce and a quarter of an absinthe. Put it in a glass and slowly add cold water.
Absinthe in Cocktails
It is now clear that absinthe is not for everyone. When people are asking what does absinthe alcohol taste like or what is absinthe flavoured with, the first question we ask people is, "How do you feel about black liquorice?" If they respond, "It's disgusting and I don't want to have anything to do it with it," then we move on. Sometimes, we suggest that people drink absinthe in cocktails before trying it in the traditional French way. Just to test the flavor.
For beginners, here is a delicious absinthe cocktail recipe:
The Sun Also Rises
Another absinthe drink named after a Hemingway novel, Death in the Afternoon, may be familiar to you. This drink, named after one of the author's first novels, is just as tasty.
The Sun Also Rises combines absinthe with two types of spirits and two types of citrus for a knockout flavor that would have had the literary great spinning in his grave.
You'll need the following ingredients:
- 2 ounces of rum
- 3/4 an ounce of fresh lime juice
- 1/2 an ounce of fresh grapefruit juice
- 1/2 an ounce of Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
- 1 teaspoon absinthe
Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice and with all of the ingredients. Shake well and strain into a chilled coupe glass filled with crushed ice.
Do you want to make this drink at home? Get yourself a bottle of delicious wormwood absinthe! We believe Hemingway would approve of a cocktail connoisseur who is known to indulge his wild side.
The Essential List of Absinthe Gear
Absinthe doesn’t have to make you nervous or cause you to fall asleep during a party. When enjoyed properly, absinthe is a delicious, licorice-flavored spirit. It can connect you to some of the greatest thinkers and artists the world has ever seen. It is also a great way to get tanked.
Traditional Absinthe Glasses
Absinthe glasses, which are small pieces made of stemware, can hold up to 5-6 ounces. A few styles come with a small reservoir that holds just a bit more than half an ounce. This reservoir can be used to fill the glass with absinthe. The main glass is wider and is designed to hold water with absinthe. An alternative is any short-stemmed glass. These glasses may have an etching or bubble near the bottom to indicate the amount of absinthe to be used. Pontarlier glasses are the most common reservoir glass.
Slotted Absinthe Spoons
Absinthe spoons can be placed flat on the glass rim to allow them to rest comfortably. The sugar cube acts as a filter and is placed on top of the spoon. The slotted spoon is made of metal and has fancy holes that allow water to drip through. You can use a large spoon if you don’t have an absinthe spoon. These slotted, metal spoons can balance on your glass and provide a place to rest sugar cubes. Elaborate grilles provide the same effect but with greater stability and can be attached to most reservoir glasses.
Traditional Absinthe Fountains
You can't use the metal absinthe fountains for anything other than this, but you will definitely be stylish if you pair it with a bottle of good absinthe. The water-dripping speed can be adjusted so that you can see your absinthe change at your own pace.
Around an absinthe fountain, great intellectuals, poets, and painters have exchanged ideas, and now you may do the same with your friends and family. Absinthe is more than just a drink; it's an experience, a tradition, and a way of life.
Now you know how to drink absinthe, the most famous absinthe question answered. Stop by at Absinthe Liquor Store and learn more about this extraordinary spirit and make absinthe a part of your life.