Absinthe has once again become a popular drink and, with the legalization of a few brands of Absinthe in 2007 in the United States, it can even be said that we are experiencing an Absinthe revival. Yet, some people don’t really know how to use Absinthe correctly or even what Absinthe is.
What is Absinthe
Absinthe is not a hallucinogen or a drug. It is a strong alcoholic beverage with an alcohol by volume of up to 75% and an anise flavor.
Legend has it that Absinthe was created by Dr Pierre Ordinaire in Couvet, Switzerland in the 18th century as an elixir for his patients. By the turn of the 19th century Henri-Louis Pernod was distilling Absinthe and selling it commercially. Pernod used a wine alcohol base distilled with different types of natural herbs including wormwood (Artemisia Absinthium), fennel, aniseed, star anise, hyssop, lemon balm, angelica, juniper, dittany, nutmeg and melissa.
Absinthe, or La Fee Verte (Green Fairy)as it became known in France, became such a popular drink that it even became more popular than wine in France. Absinthe bars became popular and the “Ritual” or traditional method of using and preparing Absinthe was born.
Absinthe was banned in France in 1915 after it was claimed that Absinthe contained psychoactive chemicals and cause hallucinations, convulsions, insanity and death. It is now known that these claims were false. Absinthe cannot and does not cause such effects. Absinthe was legalized in many countries in the 1990s.
How to Use Absinthe the Traditional Way
To prepare Absinthe in the traditional way is to use the “Ritual”.
You will need:-
- A large glass or Absinthe glass.
- An Absinthe spoon – replica glasses and spoons can be purchased online at AbsintheKit.com along with top-quality Absinthe essences to make your own Absinthe.
- A sugar cube.
- A carafe of iced water.
Pour a shot of Absinthe into the glass.
Rest the spoon on the rim of the glass and put the sugar cube on the spoon.
Slowly drip, rather than pour, the iced water over the sugar to dissolve it.
Watch the Absinthe louche as the water mixes into the Absinthe. The essential oils in the Absinthe are not soluble in water so cause the mixture to louche or go cloudy.
Stir your Absinthe and enjoy the taste of the Green Fairy.
Remember that although Absinthe will not give you hallucinations, it is a strong drink and it is very easy to get drunk on Absinthe. Absinthe is made out of a curious blend of herbs – some are naturally sedative in nature and others are stimulants. This blend of herbs can give a very different drunkenness than that caused by other spirits or wine or beer. Some describe it as a “clear headed” drunkenness.
The Czech or Bohemian Method
With this method, once you have poured the shot of Absinthe into the glass you dip the sugar cube into the alcohol and then set it alight on the spoon with a match. Once the sugar has caramelized and melted through the spoon and into the Absinthe, you add the iced water.
The Bohemian method is a modern method and is a bit of fun really rather than a serious method of drinking Absinthe. It can also be slightly dangerous because the whole glass of Absinthe can catch fire, a bit of a waste of Absinthe! Take care.
The Ritual is the most popular way of using Absinthe but Absinthe can also be used in cocktails – make up your own or search online for cocktail recipes to give you inspiration on how to use Absinthe.