To prepare absinthe, you will need an Absinthe Glass, an Absinthe Spoon, pure water and sugar if desired. You can use a carafe for adding water if no absinthe fountain is available. Your spoon is placed on top of your glass and the sugar cube atop the spoon. Water is slowly added to the glass allowing the Absinthe to form the swirling, opalescent trails known as the louche.
With many different styles of absinthe glasses available such as bubble reservoir, standard reservoir and dose line, it can be difficult deciding which glass is best for you. So let's take a look at the various types of absinthe glasses and their significance.
Absinthe glasses are as important to the absinthe ritual as any piece of absinthiana. Unlike let's say wine glasses, those designed for absinthe have far more variables to consider. You'll be considering size, weight, composition, age and cost. The size of the glass is mostly personal preference.
Now let's talk about the difference between reservoir, bubble reservoir and dose line glasses. A reservoir absinthe glass (Top row right) has a small reservoir at its bottom designed to hold the perfect amount of absinthe for that glass. A bubble reservoir is the same thing with the reservoir shaped like a ball or globe (Top row right 1, 3, 4). The dose line style has an actual line cast or etched onto the glass to indicate the amount of absinthe used in that size glass (Bottom row right). No matter which style you choose, the reservoir or the dose line are only suggestions as to the amount of absinthe you should use. With this in mind, absinthe is usually mixed in a 1 to 3 or 1 to 4 ratio.
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The weight and composition of the glass is also a matter of personal preference. Modern glassware used for absinthe will be molded or blown glass.
Molded glass tends to be heavier and more durable than blown. Molded glass is also generally less expensive and is a great choice for a restaurant or bar environment where they may be handled roughly. Molded glass is also dishwasher safe.
Blown glass is usually more delicate, detailed and expensive. Blown glass is usually lighter in weight and thinner than molded glass. Right: Top row are blown glass and bottom are molded.
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Another option to consider is whether to purchase a modern glass, reproduction or antique glass. Most absinthe glasses available today are modern reproductions of glasses from the late 1700's to the late 1800's. Antique glassware, although extremely beautiful, can be quite expensive. The style of the glass and its rarity will determine its cost. You'll find most antique absinthe glasses start at around $100 and can go up to $1000. Antique glasses are great at reproducing the ambiance of the Belle Époque. Important to note, with all absinthiana, is that antiques are often counterfeit. When purchasing any absinthe antique, it is always recommended to consult an expert concerning the pieces authenticity.
Traditionally, Absinthe has been characterized as a distillation of botanicals liquified into a spirit. The botanicals regularly included green Anise (P. anisum), Grande Wormwood (A. absinthium), and Sweet Fennel (F. vulgare). Most properly produced absinthe includes selected culinary and medicinal spices and plants which provide another layer of aroma and flavor. The biggest share of the world’s absinthe produced during the Belle Epoque and today comes from France and Switzerland with the bulk being the Verte (green) variety. Absinthe has a very high potency of 60-72% ABV. The high alcohol content should always be considered while enjoying your absinthe.
However, if you're using an absinthe fountain you'll want to make sure you have at least 1/2 to 3/4 inches of clearance between the top of your spoon and the fountain spigot. This will provide enough clearance for the glass, spoon and sugar cube.
There has been no other spirit in history that veiled with more controversy, myth, and misunderstanding than Absinthe. Born in the late 1700‘s, this potent green spirit virtually disappeared by the early 1900’s due to the unfair blame for many ills of the societal Belle Epoque. After two world wars, the temperance movement, years of social change and the cold war this once most admired and loathed spirit in the world was diminished to a myth which lingered in cultural and artistic circles.
With the arrival of the 1990’s, the resurrection of Absinthe began. However, there was a lack of knowledge by producers and consumers alike due to the long absence of absinthe. Due to the many misconceptions, this amazing piece of the Belle Epoque was often improperly produced yieding an inferior Absinthe. More recently, due to renewed interest in absinthe, distillers in Europe and the US responded to the inferior absinthe with a traditionally distilled, far superior absinthe. Likely the best absinthe produced today is Jade brand absinthe. Jade produces 4 Verte Absinthes and 1 Blanche Absinthe with all being as close to a Pre-Ban absinthe as you'll ever get.