Giving the Green Fairy her wings

The absinthe ritual and the correct manner of it’s performance have been covered thoroughly by other sister sites, however as we at Absinthe.com.au believe that the ritual is central to the experience of absinthe in it’s most historically accurate form.In addition to this, the absinthe ritual is a thoroughly reliable method for optimising the taste, nose and overall character of any absinthe, and is an act without comparison (within the bounds of law), which sets absinthe apart from other, lesser pleasures. Moreover, it’s a hell of a lot of fun and a delightful way to dazzle and impress the neophyte with little physical exertion on your part. The absinthe ritual is the central rite of the absintheur and absintheuse, and it is through this ritual that the myth of ‘la fee verte’ is given expression because, as they say, the fairy is in the louche.

With this as our starting point, I think it cannot be stated enough, that YOU SHOULD NEVER SET FIRE TO YOUR ABSINTHE. EVER. This is a modern pastiche of a tradition aimed at the the casual-to-regular package tour member and has nothing to do with historical absinthe culture, no matter what Johnny Depp and From Hell would like to have you believe.


The correct method for drinking absinthe, known as ‘the absinthe ritual’, is as follows.

1. A dose of absinthe (from 25-50ml) is poured into an absinthe glass (if you do not own any absinthe glasses a tall, wide-mouthed glass should be used, ideally with a short stem).

2. An absinthe spoon, a slotted, trowel-shaped spoon also known as a cuillere, is then placed across the mouth of the glass, upon which one places a cube or lozenge of sugar.

3. Ice cold water, from an absinthe fountain, brouiller or carafe, is then dripped slowly over the cube of sugar and into the absinthe. When performed correctly the louche should begin to appear at the bottom of the glass and riging to the top, occuring due to a precipitation of essential oils from the alcohol upon the addition of water. Those with a good absinthe fountain or a steady wrist can create the most striking column of opaque, pearlescent absinthe in a glass prior to it louching fully.

4. Once the required amount of water has been added (which, after practice, should melt the sugar completely in one attempt), the absinthe is then stirred gently with the absinthe spoon and taken. It is recommended by us that you take your absinthe gradually over the period of 20 minutes or more to allow for the flavours and aromas of the absinthe to bloom in full and change in their aspect according to the amount of absinthe left in the glass and the rising temperature of the drink itself.

The amount of water to add is entirely subjective and something which should be dictated by personal taste, however any ratio from 3:1 through to 5:1 is usual. Any less water can make the alcohol content is too confrontational, and any more tends to dilute the flavours and nose rather than expressing them. Many modern drinkers forego sugar, however it does tend to enhance the flavours in the alcohol and is a central artefact of the historical ritual, and so it is encouraged that your absinthe is taken, at least part of the time, with sugar in the traditional manner.

For a short film showing the correct preparation of absinthe using a fountain made by our friends at Absinthesalon look here, and for more detail on the ritual (and variations such as the glass-in-glass method) The Virtual Absinthe Museum has information here.

For the truly lazy, Hemmingway’s old favourite ‘death in the afternoon’ (champagne adulterated with a dose of absinthe) is also both historically interesting and thoroughly enjoyable, as is a New Orleans-style absinthe frappe.

Robert Nov 29th 2007 06:18 pm No Comments yet Trackback URI

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