The Definitive Guide to Absinthe, Part 2: How to Drink

If you’ve read Part 1: The history of Absinthe, you probably have some idea of a traditional absinthe serving.  I was fortunate enough this Christmas to receive a full absinthe ‘kit’ as a gift (big thank you to my brother, he definitely won this Christmas) so I recently had the pleasure of enjoying it the traditional way. It is my pleasure to share that experience with you, so we all know how to properly drink absinthe.

Note: this is part of the Absinthe Ritual. You don’t actually have to do all of this or have this equipment in order to enjoy your absinthe. You can always do it the easy (and fast) way. This also applies to other Anise Based Spirits from around the world.

Due to the herbal nature of absinthe, along with certain fatty acids that are in the beverage, when adding water it changes the consistency and color of the drink.  This is the source of many of it’s names, most of them including the word ‘green’, since it takes on a mildly greenish hue or glow.  This is also the reason that absinthe has the complex, traditional serving method that it does.

Things you will need (in a traditional kit):

  • Absinthe Fountain– mine is all glass, adorned with a green fairy on top.  There are multitudes of designs, I’m sure one suited to your own personal taste.  My brother bought them from here.
  • Absinthe Spoons – These are specially designed spoons which hold sugar, but allow it to drip into the glass below.  There are also many designs, apparently mine is a design of a wormwood leaf with ribbon wrapped through it.  Very nice, and probably the one I would have picked out myself.
  • Sugar – While I have a specifically packaged “absinthe sugar”, I have yet to discern how it might be different from just sugar cubes.  Other than… really great packaging.
  • Absinthe – take your time picking out an absinthe.  If it is within your capability, try to find a bar that serves several types of absinthe so you can taste a variety or at least do plenty of research.  Besides good reviews, my absinthe was picked on the merit of having the most significant change in color when adding water.  It really just depends on what you value in your drink.
  • Glass – Of course there are specific glasses that you absolutely must have in order to drink absinthe, otherwise you might as well not even try… but for real, they are pretty but don’t loose your mind on the glassware.  If you do desperately need them (because you and I are just like that), try looking through Goodwill.  They are always my number 1 source of glassware.

Getting Started

First, you fill your absinthe fountain up with ice water.  When there are so few ingredients in a drink, the quality really counts for everything so try to use a good water. Personally, I prefer something a little more on the mineral-y side but it’s at your discretion.

Step 2: ???

Second, you will place your absinthe spoon on top of the glass so it is laying flat.  The ridge on the spoon just above the decorative part is for laying on the edge so that the spoon is somewhat more ‘locked in’.  It took me a little bit too long to figure that out.

Actually Doing it!

Third, you place your desired amount of sugar on top of the flat part of the spoon.  I used three, since I am a weenie and new to absinthe.  After that, you slowly turn the handle of the spout above your absinthe spoon until it begins to drip.  I prefer mine on a slow drip because I don’t do this often and I like to watch the sugar melt slowly.  Whatever you prefer is undoubtedly the right way to do this though.  Add as much sugar and water as you like, right up until the glass is full.

Full Sugar Cube
Getting Reeeeal Melty here
Oh man, that thing is gone.

Unfortunately, this time I did not take pictures of the absinthe as it changed… Mostly because I did this shortly before work and it was a poor time to really enjoy the absinthe ritual, especially since my bosses were there.  I will be sure to do so in the future because I am an avid purveyor of drink porn and absinthe surely delivers.  Enjoy!

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Published by Spirit Sirens

Head Mixologist and Class Coordinator at Lucidi Distilling Co. in Old Town Peoria, Arizona. In my free time I eat good foods, drink good drinks and make mead with my brother. Soon to be on YouTube with Lucidi Distilling Co. making drinks and talking history and under Spirit Sirens, where myself and my partner Mariah talk about women in the alcohol industry and our experiences!

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