Absinthe, that anise-flavored drink derived from herbs, commonly referred to as "grande wormwood" or "The Green Fairy", is unlike any other drink and that includes the way it should be drank.
Although Absinthe is sometimes mistakenly called a liqueur, because it is not bottled with added sugar, technically the drink is a spirit. And this spirit gives a lot more spirit to the drinker as it contains more alcohol. While Absinthes alcohol strength or proof varies by brand, its alcohol value is typically twice that of scotch, gin or vodka.
Unexpected over-indulgence is a genuine possibility with absinthe, especially for newcomers who assume the drink compares to other spirits in strength. Many claim the drink's secondary, presumed thujone-induced effect is what must make it strong. The fact is, it just is a much stronger drink. With absinthe's popularity on the rise again, many new drinkers find themselves overly intoxicated and uncertain about what they think of the drink. Before you make a judgment of your own, first understand its power and second, learn how absinthe should be drank.
To start, you will need what is called an Absinthe spoon. These spoons come in a variety of designs and shapes but basically are made to allow liquid to pass through it while melting the sugar cube set upon it. Once you have your bottle of Absinthe, your spoon, sugar and ice - you are ready.
- Pour a shot of Absinthe into a glass - a 6 ounce sized glass will work best.
- Place your sugar cube on your spoon and place the Absinthe spoon on the glass
- Slowly drip four to six parts of iced water onto the sugar cube, melting the sugar into the absinthe.
- Stir and drink
- Pour a shot of Absinthe into a glass
- Dip a teaspoon of sugar in the absinthe so that it absorbs it
- Set the sugar cube on an Absinthe spoon and place it on the glass
Some people experiment with the way they put their sugar into their absinthe. Some light the sugar cube on fire and hold it over the glass, letting the caramelized sugar drip down into the Absinthe. You can add sugar however you would like, just be sure to add the iced water for dilution purposes. Diluting your drink is called "louche'ing" and for connoisseurs, the ritual of la louche is an essential part of the absinthe experience.
Although involving absinthe with fire may have the desired visual effect in a hip cocktail lounge or on the movie screen, it does deny the drinker the full experience of the more noteworthy mind-opening, perception-enhancing absinthe effects. The traditional ritual of 1890's Paris had a purpose: as cool water drips into a glass of the chartreuse green liquor, it liberates the all-important essential herbal oils that make absinthe the special drink it is.
For the same reason, absinthe is seldom drunk straight up like scotch or brandy. Newcomers to Absinthe may drink it straight up but this is done rarely for taste, it is just that they don't realize any other way. Many bartenders aren't even aware of the proper way Absinthe should be drank and sometimes serve it alone in a shot glass. If this happens, request a wine glass and a bottle of chilled water -- then pour the shot of absinthe into the wine glass and slowly dilute with water.
Once your drink is prepared, be sure to mix it well and remember Absinthe is best in moderation. The wormwood and thujone effects are strong, if you drink too much it will be similar to just drinking too much alcohol. The drink will taste strong despite the dilution; some liken it to tasting like medicine or Vick's Vaporub. This is only because you can feel the minty burn that truly feels a bit healing.
With Absinthe, the effects of alcohol are countered by the stimulants present in the herbs from which the emerald liquor is made. As a result, Absinthe-induced inebriation is quite different to the usual bleary-eyed incoherence that comes from drinking too much wine or whiskey.
How you enjoy your absinthe is a matter of personal preference as is the time you drink it, the occasion or the frequency. Absinthe is currently becoming the drink of choice at grand dinner parties, where it provides refreshment before, during and after the meal: as a pre-dinner drink, in mid-course sorbet, and as a digestive.
Whenever you serve your Absinthe, just be prepared and serve it correctly, teaching your guests how this historic and unusual drink is to be drunk. One thing is for sure, your guests will never forget it - that is unless they have drank too much of it.
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Green Devil provides information, tips and kits on the making and history of absinthe alcohol throughout the ages. Learn more about the allure this beverage has held over the centuries or make your own absinthe alcohol and find out for yourself. Visit online at www.greendevil.com/ for more information.
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