How to Properly Prepare a Traditional Absinthe

In the pre-ban days before 1915 (the year absinthe was banned in France), the French and Swiss prepared their absinthe by beginning with a reservoir glass, which has a doser mark indicating the correct amount of absinthe to be added to that glass, usually 30 ml or one ounce. A slotted spoon would then be laid across the rim of the glass used to hold a sugar cube. Sugar is used to help soften the bitterness of the plant, grand wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). This plant is considered one of the most bitter plants in existence. Ice water is slowly dripped onto the sugar cube from either a fountain or a carafe, and into the glass of absinthe. The slower the sugar water is added to the absinthe the better, as this mixture changes the chemical consistency of the absinthe, thus allowing the slow release of the anise fragrance. There is also a change in its appearance. As the water is added, the absinthe begins to "louche." The louche is a process in which the water reacts with the anise, turning the mixture milky white in color. Each absinthe brand will louche differently depending on the anise and other herbs used. Once the proper ratio of absinthe to water has been reached (typically 1 part absinthe to 3 to 5 parts water - to taste), your absinthe is ready to drink. Santé !