Preparing absinthe the right way is part of the ritual and it makes for a great way to entertain your party guests.
📕 What is Absinthe?
Absinthe is a distilled, highly alcoholic beverage. It's also known as The Green Fairy or La Fee Verte.
It can be described as anise-flavored, licorice-flavored, or minty.
This is because true absinthe is prepared by first infusing herbs in basic distilled alcohol. This is then redistilled, which results in a light green shaded high percentage alcohol.
The main herbs and spices used to prepare absinthe are wormwood, hyssops, and anise. Secret recipes and major well-known absinthe brands add other herbs as well, such as melissa.
The taste is more complex than other spirits like gin or whiskey. Other liquors that resemble absinthe are the Greek Ouzo, the Levantine arak, the Southern French Pastis, and the Mediterranean Raki.
🧚 Why was Absinthe banned?
French artists and painters such as Toulouse Lautrec and Piccasso were known to love Absinthe. In fact, many of the artists depicted absinthe in a way or another in their artworks.
Society didn't necessarily regard these artists as great people back then and one thing lead to another.
The drink was banned some 100 years ago in many countries around the world.
In retrospect, it was considered to be a smear campaign to reduce the then-popular 5 pm drink to nothing. They did succeed!
It was said that absinthe had psychoactive properties, which was a false claim.
In the early 90s, the European Union, with France on the forefront, decided to revert the ban, and soon after that, the US followed suit.
The absinthe you get in stores today is absolutely safe to consume! But remember to consume in moderation.
🍶 Ingredients and Equipment
Preparing absinthe is a little ritual.
Absinthe has a slightly bitter taste to it because of the infused herbs, so therefore it is always served with sugar to balance the flavors.
You will need:
- absinthe - of course 🙂
- sugar cube - not loose sugar, you need the cube. If you don't want sugar added you can skip that too.
- water - cooled water, the colder the better. Ice cubes wasn't used in original recipe but you are free to use ice cubes. I recommend cold water because it warms up slowly adding to the experience and increasing the flavors of your drink.
The spoon is pretty and adds to the effect and usability. The glasses are shaped in a specific way and they are needed if you want to impress your guests.
🔪 How to prepare it?
Here is how it's done. It's super simple and serving up absinthe is a great way to entertain your guests.
The measurements are in the recipe card with the US and metric options further below. Watch the video too (pop up).
Pour absinthe into your glass.
Place the absinthe spoon on your glass and keep a sugar cube on it.
Pour the water drop by drop over the sugar cube. It should dissolve slowly and fall into the glass.
Watch the absinthe turnings milky, pour in slowly all the water and mix with your absinthe spoon.
🍸 Buying Absinthe
Finding quality REAL absinthe has turned into a difficult task since the ban was lifted.
The problem is that every country tends to regulate what counts as Absinthe differently.
Proper high-quality absinthe is distilled. This is the one that you want.
What you mostly get in stores are not distilled absinthe but cold mixed spirits.
Cold mixed absinthe is not really absinthe, it's just plain flavored clear mass-produced alcohol that has been mixed with some artificial colors and flavors.
Even if the label says "distilled", it doesn't mean that the absinthe was distilled. Distilled in this case means that it includes distilled mass-produced high percentage alcohol.
By the way, this applies to most spirits out there, including gin and schnapps.
No, absinthe is legal in the US.
No absinthe doesn't make you feel high. But if you drink a lot, like any other liquor, then you will get drunk.
There is a variation that is popular in bars. A sugar cube is infused with absinthe and placed on the absinthe spoon. It is then inflamed and the onlooker watches as it melts and falls into the glass. They then drop it all and the absinthe in the glass starts to burn as well and that's when they add the water to kill the flame. I recommend not to do this at home, let the professionals do that. Besides this is not the traditional way of preparing absinthe, it's called the bohemian absinthe.
Nobody drinks absinthe pure, that's not how you would use it. The point is that it is mixed with water and some sugar, it's a ritual. Besides, it's too strong and bitter.
Most are at 55%. To compare, gin and schnapps are between 38 and 42%. This is another reason why you need to serve it mixed into water, absinthe percentage is higher than other alcohols.
They say it's because the anise compounds in the drink have properties and that when you add water to absinthe it turns white and cloudy. Generally speaking, if you add regular tap water to high percentage spirits distilled to +50%, they will turn cloudy. The water would need to be PH 7 and the liquor ice cold or filtered with active carbon, for it to not turn cloudy. The higher percentage the spirit, the more likely it is that it will turn cloudy.
How to prepare Absinthe?
- ⅛ cup Absinthe
- 1 cube Sugar
- 1 cup + 1 Tbsp Water cooled
- Pour the absinthe into the glass.⅛ cup Absinthe
- Lay the absinthe spoon over the glass and place the sugar cube into the center.1 cube Sugar
- Pour drop by drop water over the sugar. The water will dissolve the sugar and fall into the glass. Do that until sugar is dissolved.1 cup + 1 tablespoon Water
- Pour remaining water slowly into the glass and watch how the abinthe turns cloudy with the water.1 cup + 1 tablespoon Water
- Stir the sugar in with your absinthe spoon.
- You can increase the water spirit ratio too by adding more water.
- If you want to make it all without sugar, you are free to do so. Just pour the cool water slowly into the absinthe and watch it change color.
- Absinthe spoon
- Absinthe glass