How to Drink Absinthe

1985

Absinthe is one mysterious and interesting distilled drink. It is an extremely alcoholic spirit that has a unique anise flavor. Another factor contributing to this beverage’s uniqueness is its organic contents such as sweet fennel and grand wormwood, specifically its leaves and flowers. That’s why absinthe has this famous green color.

Most records showed that absinthe was discovered in Switzerland, specifically in the later part of the 18th century. Absinthe became even more popular from the late 19th century to the early part of the 20th century, particularly in France because of the country’s writers and artists. It was an elite drink, proven by how it was often consumed by world-famous icons such as Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Arthur Rimbaud and Ernest Hemingway.

Absinthe is one of the most controversial drinks of all time. It was widely considered as a dangerously addictive hallucinogen. It usually contains a harmful organic substance called thujone. Absinthe incited fear so bad that it was banned in some parts of Europe and the United States in 1915. However, in the modern times, it finally earned the trust of the world when it was proven by experts that it is just an ordinary spirit. Researchers even considered it as one of the mildest spirits. They believed that the drink’s effects were just exaggerated.

Finally, it is time to learn how to drink absinthe so we can enjoy this spirit even more!

Types

It is crucial to know the types or styles of absinthe first so you can have more options on how to drink absinthe.

  • Bohemian Style

    Other interesting terms for bohemian-style absinthe are wormwood bitters, anise-free absinthe, Czech-style absinthe, and simply absinth without the letter “e.” Bohemian-style absinthe is popular in the Czech Republic. Strangely, it does not contain fennel, anise and other traditional absinthe herbs. Sometimes, a bohemian-style absinthe may have these ingredients but only in tiny amounts.

    The only factor why this type of drink is still absinthe is because of wormwood and high alcohol content. Bohemian-style absinthe is served with fire, which is not necessary for the traditional type.

  • Absenta

    This is the Spanish term for absinthe. It contains Alicante anise and has a citrus flavor. It differs from the traditional French version when it comes to taste.

  • Blanche

    After reduction, Blanche absinthe must be inside a bottle immediately. That’s why it is colorless. As mentioned before, absinthe will only have the green color if it undergoes further processes.

  • Verte

    “Green” is the meaning of the French word “verte.” This absinthe is a Blanche at first. When herbs remain in the clear distillate, the Blanche changes to a peridot green liquid with a powerful flavor. Verte is clearly the traditional type of absinthe because it follows standard methods.

Production Processes

In order to know how to drink absinthe, we must also be familiar with the methods behind its production so we can understand completely its ingredients and composition. This knowledge leads to a more satisfying serving of absinthe.

  • Preparation of Ingredients

    The main components of absinthe are water, spices, herbs and neutral alcohol. A high-quality absinthe is distilled for the second time using a white grape spirit. On the other hand, a low-quality absinthe contains potatoes, beets or grain.  When it comes to plant ingredients, these are typically florence fennel, green anise, and grande wormwood. Other herbs that can match the taste of absinthe are veronica, coriander, peppermint, angelica, star anise, melissa, hyssop and petite wormwood.

  • Distillation

    Absinthe and gin have similarities. They are both distilled drinks. In the case of absinthe, however, distilled alcohol softens plant ingredients first. After that process, these contents are distilled again to separate a huge amount of bitterness and highlight their unique taste instead.

    At first, absinthe is colorless. Its usual green color comes from the chlorophyll of herbs in the later processes. As long as the chlorophyll stays active in the drink, absinthe will undergo a satisfying aging process. Same idea goes for tannins in wine and other brown alcoholic beverages.

    After putting some color in absinthe, water is added to balance the effects of alcohol.

How to Drink Absinthe

We have a couple of options on how to drink absinthe based on history. Some modern methods lose the essence of absinthe, so we will resort to the classics.

  • Traditional French

    The things you need to prepare for this are a sugar cube, a slotted spoon, and a glass containing absinthe. First, put the slotted spoon across the glass’s rim. Then, place a sugar cube on the spoon. With iced water, melt the sugar cube. As seconds pass by, sugar mixes with absinthe, thanks to the slotted spoon’s holes.

    After the initial part of the preparation, it is time to finalize serving absinthe. In the first place, you have to make sure that absinthe will only comprise one part of the glass. Meanwhile, the water you will add must have the rest of the glass, preferably three to five parts.

    While water slowly dilutes absinthe, ingredients with weak water solubility such as star anise and fennel will show up. Absinthe looks cloudy when this happens. The milky substance is what they call the louche. It makes absinthe taste more authentic. No wonder this is the oldest yet the most favorite method of preparing absinthe.

  • “Death in the Afternoon” Cocktail

    This is one of the most memorable absinthe cocktails in history. It is famous for being a celebrity recipe by no other than Ernest Hemingway. Since 1935, this cocktail follows a simple procedure. First, pour a jigger of absinthe into a champagne glass. The glass has a purpose because you also have to add iced champagne into the absinthe. Before drinking the cocktail, wait until it gets cloudy or milky.

Summary

You are still free to do some research about other ways on how to drink absinthe if you prefer the modern methods, which can actually be more exciting than the traditional ones. Just imagine a fiery sugar cube plunging into absinthe. However, we really recommend the traditional methods because they preserve the essence of absinthe.

For more drinking options at home, learn how to make a Manhattan drink, how to make a perfect margarita drink, how to make whiskey sour, and how to drink as well as serve bourbon with class. We also have lists of useful products for your home bar such as reliable beer coolers, wine coolersstylish beer glasses, and fashionable bar stools.

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