Absinthe, what it is, how to serve it, the basics.

Absinthe, what it is, how to serve it, the basics.

So absinthe has been legal again for a couple years and people still don’t know shit about it or how to serve it. What is it? A grape based spirit, distilled with herbs, most infamously (but not by volume), wormwood and then later infused with more herbs. I’m not going to wow you quoting the 1965 FDA laws or give you a list of different botanicals; this is just a straightforward simple way to serve absinthe and how to explain it.
Everything you need to know: (read on if you want them explained)—1. Absinthe is legal again, yes real absinthe. 2. It doesn’t make you hallucinate, it never did. 3. Don’t light it aflame, it ruins they flavor, that was a mid nineties faux absinthe marketing scam. 4. Absinthe has strong flavors that many people don’t like.

More specifically:
1. No laws have changed. But a loophole in the law was found. Thujone appears in the distillation of absinthe, thujone was illegal. What is legal is having 10 parts thujone per million, many thank Ted Breaux, a research scientist and now owner of Lucid Absinthe with this breakthrough, but also thank the tireless efforts of the wormwood society. Raise a glass. But lets not forget other great west coast absinthes like Trillium, St George, Pacifique, and the very traditional Marteau.
2. Absinthe weighs in at 120 proof minimum. This is almost double the proof of other things you’d drink. I’ll offer it in 1oz pours to promote responsibility. Hallucinations? Think about the last time you drank a few things that high in booze (most never have) you are just drunk, not hallucinating. When absinthe was at its peak, there were also scalawags making hooch with random chemicals that would get absinthe to turn green, these chemicals were poison. Also yellow journalists latched on to absinthe in the same way they did with weed in the 50’s, think refer madness.
3. Fire makes most things better, but not absinthe. When you drop cold water over absinthe, it creates a louche. The louche is when water mixes with the oils in the absinthe, oxidizing, and creating the cloudy effect. Back when the Czechs (and others) were just infusing high proof spirits with whatnots, they found that the absinthe wouldn’t louche. The fire was introduced to add to the mystique and showman ship
4. Now that absinthe is legal again, frankly it’s less cool. A lot of people don’t like it now that it’s not contraband. I offer these suggestions, all absinthes have different recipes, and taste vastly different, and some require more sugar, others less, and the same goes for water. Though there are many complex flavors making up absinthe, you will never get away from the anise flavor. If you don’t like that its not for you. But I will finish your cup for you.

All you need to serve absinthe is cold water, a glass, absinthe and sugar. You should get an absinthe glass, a spoon and other treats as well. I get them here, if you find a better price, well, you won’t because this is the guy that pretty much makes everything non vintage out there. So, how to serve it? Think about the sugar first, absinthe is mostly alcohol, (60%) and made out of the bitterest things on earth. You add sugar and water to make it palpable, you add the water to sugar because sugar doesn’t dissolve in alcohol, you don’t shoot it. I did once, here is a quote:

“[Later] the owner [of the bar] showed me his antique poker table with vintage jack daniels cards and chips. We played until 4am drinking only the finest scotches.

I now know why absinthe was illegal for so long, aside from spelling errors, there are major side effects, one, perhaps, I currently feel as though I am floating in a sphere of vegemite suspended in zero g’s, in some excerpt from ender’s game. My lips tingle, and I still maintain consciousness, though I do so alone. Note to self, the is no “k” in consciousness and my computer will likely not “glow” in the morning, New Zealand has the shortest pours ever, Really, all of the Americans took shots of absinthe to catch up with the kiwis and Irish.”


The 3 ways you should try, easiest, being just to drip a pitcher of cold water over a spoon with a sugar cube in it. Start off with 1oz absinthe, 1 sugar cube and 3oz water, this will be very strong, keep the water around for getting it just right. Then there is the very pretty absinthe fountain, basically a glass bucket on a pedestal with a spigot on it that drips water over a sugar cube very, very slowly. The fountain is definitely the way to go when serving several people. The very entertaining way that I do it at work is with a balancier, which I have had people order absinthe just to see it work. It looks like this.

The glass, filled to the dousing line, sugar on the spoon

The glass, filled to the dousing line, sugar on the spoon

marteau absinthe

fill the balancier, when photographing cocktails, try to get your mustasche in every shot

fill the balancier, when photographing cocktails, try to get your mustasche in every shot

absinthe louche

absinthe louche

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4 Responses to Absinthe, what it is, how to serve it, the basics.

  1. Wasabi Prime says:

    This is an amazing blog. I’m on information overload and I like it! I wanted to say I just got back from Chantanee and was really and truly wowed by the beautiful drinks. I wanted to say thank you for putting together such a gorgeous menu. I did a short blog post about it and sadly the photos just don’t do those drinks enough justice. Can’t wait to go back again!

  2. Pingback: speed blogging: 62 people found my blog looking for answers for the following « Caskstrength

  3. You’ve done it once again. Superb read.

  4. If I had a dime for every time I came to caskstrength.wordpress.com.. Incredible writing.

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