Absinthe is a rare drink in that it's not mixed by a bartender. Instead, it's prepared by the consumer, at their table, through a ritual known as louching where cold water is dripped over a sugar cube into a glass with absinthe. High end absinthe is typically more than 130 proof, so adding three to five parts water enhances the flavor while turning it from a deep green to a cloudy green that almost seems to glow.
Louching begins with pouring about an ounce of absinthe into an absinthe glass. These glasses usually have a reservoir, or marking, on the bottom to make measuring the proper amount simple. An absinthe spoon is placed on the top of the glass with a sugar cube. The absinthe spoon typically looks like a cake cutter or pie serving knife with decorative slits. Cold water is then dripped onto the sugar which passes through the spoon and into the glass. The sugar water and absinthe emulsify as they mix in the glass giving it a distinctive cloudy, green look with a flavor similar to anisette, sambuca, or ouzo. The absinthe spoon has a point which makes it easy to stir any undissolved sugar in the glass' reservoir. That's the entire ritual – now drink up.
PSA: Never light absinthe or the sugar cube on fire. That's the equivalent of chugging a shot of top shelf, premium tequila with a lick of salt and bite of lemon. A couple of movies, in recent times, showed absinthe being lit and it caught on faster than eating Tide Pods.
Great post! I recall having Absinthe only once and not sure there was this precise ritual involved. I may have to give it a go!
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