The Ultimate Guide for How to Drink Absinthe
Are you ready to learn how to drink Absinthe the right way? Are you curious about the history and mythology of this legendary and iconic spirit? If so, then you have come to the right place. In this blog post, I will discuss everything you need to know about drinking absinthe. I’ll cover the basics of preparing and enjoying absinthe, as well as debunk some of the myths that surround it. So sit back, relax, and let Absinthia teach you how to drink absinthe like a 19th century Parisian artist. And don’t worry - Absinthe didn’t cause Van Gogh to cut off his ear, and so you can keep yours, too.
The Basics of Preparing Absinthe
Before we discuss how to drink Absinthe, let’s first take a look at the basics of preparing it. In order to enjoy Absinthe properly, you will need the following items: Absinthe, an Absinthe glass, and iced water.
When most people think about Absinthe, they envision the fountain, the spoon, and the sugar. Did you know that absinthe doesn’t require sugar cubes? The idea that Absinthe requires sugar cubes is a myth. Sugar cubes were often added to dilute the strong alcoholic taste of Absinthe. This was in the 19th century when Absinthe was in its prime. The ritual of the water dripping slowly over the sugar cube and into the glass is beautiful - and time consuming. And you need a lot of equipment to do it. Here at Absinthia, we believe that an Absinthe that requires a lot of sugar to taste good is an Absinthe that has not been well crafted. We carefully craft our Absinthe so that it has no harsh or bitter flavor, and you can skip the sugar entirely.
Some people are drawn to the ritual of preparing Absinthe which involves pouring Absinthe over a sugar cube that sits on top of a slotted Absinthe spoon.
Some Absinthe brands, like mine, are intended to be prepared without sugar. I prepare my Absinthe using the traditional Swiss vintage recipe and have refined my recipe over time. My Absinthe is not bitter, rather it has a profound and sophisticated taste. The combination of anise and fennel provide a sweeter note to Absinthe. It’s the wormwood that adds some sharpness to the flavor profile. Because I’ve spent years refining my recipe, I’ve balanced out the flavor profile to create a smooth Absinthe that’s full of character.
The most common way to prepare Absinthe includes sugar cubes. Start by pouring a small amount of absinthe into your absinthe glass. Next, place one or two sugar cubes onto an absinthe spoon, and then drip iced water over the sugar cubes until they have melted. Finally, slowly pour the iced water into the glass while stirring.
We like to say that every time you light Absinthe on fire, a green fairy dies. Do not light the sugar on fire. That is not traditional, and in fact was started in the 1990s to promote the anti-Absinthe propaganda and sell it illegally via the internet. The fire actually damages our carefully crafted spirit, so please keep your matches away.
Photograph by Scott Sta @GreenFairySociety
How to Drink Absinthe
I prefer to prepare Absinthe without sugar.
Check out my YouTube video on How to Prepare Absinthe
You can see how simple the ritual of preparing Absinthe can be. I recommend drinking your Absinthe slowly so you can enjoy all the unique flavors of the green fairy. The cold water opens the botanicals and the taste and aroma are delicious and profound without being overwhelming.
Now that you know the basics of preparing Absinthe, it is time to learn how to drink it like a pro. Here are a few dos to keep in mind:
- Do drink Absinthe slowly, and allow yourself enough time to enjoy the flavor and effects.
- Do swirl the Absinthe around in your glass to release the flavors and aromas.
- Do experiment with the amount of water you add to your Absinthe. For me I like 2 oz of water to 1 oz of absinthe. I often use 1 cube of ice and allow this to melt into the Absinthe, but be careful of over diluting.
- Do enjoy Absinthe in moderation, and remember that it is a strong spirit that should be enjoyed responsibly.
The History and Mythology of Absinthe
Now that you know how to prepare and drink Absinthe, let’s take a closer look at the history and mythology of this infamous spirit. Absinthe has a long and colorful history, dating back to the 18th century. It was first developed in Switzerland by either the Henriod sisters or Dr. Pierre Ordinaire as a medicinal elixir. In 1797, the sisters sold their recipe for a nice profit to a Frenchman named Major Dubied. Later that same year, the Major's daughter married Henri-Louis Pernod. Pernod, who along with the Major and his son Marcellin, began to build the first commercial distillery to produce Absinthe. And in 1798, the factory began producing absinthe under the name Dubied Père et Fils
Due to its popularity, Absinthe soon became the subject of myths and legends. One of the most famous myths is that Absinthe can cause hallucinations and madness. This myth was fueled by the fact that Absinthe contains high levels of thujone, a compound which has been linked to psychedelic effects. However, research has shown that thujone does not actually cause hallucinations, distillation removes all but a small trace of thujones, and that the effects of Absinthe are largely due to its alcohol content. Vintage bottles have been studied and tested to prove that they are the same as modern Absinthe. In the EU, that is 35 ppm and in the US that is 10 ppm of thujone. Either way, that is barely a trace.
Despite the myths and legends, Absinthe remains a popular spirit today. It has a unique flavor and aroma which can be enjoyed by both beginners and experts alike.
Absinthia Vermut serving her award winning Absinthe at The Dark Garden Corsetry in San Francisco. Photo by Dennis Hearne
Are you ready to have Absinthe be a centerpiece of your at home bar? Grab a bottle of my Absinthia Absinthe Blanche or Verte.
And keep your eyes peeled for Absinthia's Barrel Aged Absinthe, my newest Absinthe addition! This Absinthe has been cask barrel aged for 6 months in American Oak with light filtering. This absinthe has a vanilla and creamy flavor profile with a mellow character. Perfect for cocktails or sipping alone with a splash of water. I promise you won’t be disappointed!