Ready to up your cool factor? Try our easy to follow absinthe recipe to show off your skills to family and friends.
When you are truly ready to up your spirit game, it is time for absinthe. Not only does the spirit contain a high proof of alcohol, but it was also rumored to contain hallucinogenic properties.
Of course by consuming absinthe you would be in good company. It has many famous fans including Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemmingway and Lord Byron.
What is Absinthe?
Absinthe is a grain alcohol of Swiss origin made by softening specialty herbs. This process is known as macerating. Absinthe is often characterized by its licorice flavor due to its ingredients of fennel and anise. As well as its often green hue which is due to the inclusion of wormwood.
Why was Absinthe Banned?
Until recently absinthe was banned in all of the US and most of Europe. The FDA banned absinthe because one of its main ingredients, wormwood, had what was believed to be a potentially dangerous toxic chemical-thujone. While thujone is present in small amounts in absinthe, it is universally believed to be far less dangerous than the high alcohol content found in absinthe.
Absinthe Blamed for the Fall of French Culture
Drinking absinthe became popular between 1850 and 1900. It was often associated with the ‘bohemian’ culture and was popular amongst the artists, writers and poets of the time. With its rise in popularity also came a rise in drunken behavior, delirium and even death. This was likely due to the high volume of alcohol in this spirit.
As the popularity of absinthe grew so did its reputation for causing poor behavior of those who choose to consume it. Soon the drink became synonymous with alcoholism and degenerate behavior. One of those who led the movement against absinthe was French psychiatrist Dr. Valentin Magnan.
Dr. Magnan blamed absinthe for the ‘fall of French culture’ and did tests on the effects of thujone on mice and dogs. High levels of thujone caused mice to have convulsions and die. His experiment on thujone on dogs led to the false conclusion that thujone causes hallucinations. However, this is simply untrue. Since the amount of thujone in absinthe is so small there is a much greater threat of alcohol poisoning than hallucination.
Large glass 2 liter or 1 gallon jug with lid
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How to Drink Straight Absinthe
If you have ever consumed absinthe you know that this bitter spirit can be a hard one to swallow. This is why the absinthe ritual was created. It is a simple way to tame this bitter spirit.
The reason that absinthe is so bitter has to do with its high proof. It is often bottled between 45 % to 74 % ABV (alcohol by volume. This translates to 90 to 148 proof.
The traditional preparation was evolved in France and uses sugar to tame the bitterness and ice to distill the alcohol. When prepared correctly, you can observe what is known as the louche which is the white cloudiness that occurs when the water hits the absinthe. This preparation is known as the ‘absinthe ritual’.
Absinthe Glasses and Spoons
While a stemware glass will suffice, absinthe enthusiasts often purchase specialty glasses and spoons to make the perfect ‘green fairy’ as the popular drink is often called.
Absinthe glasses are narrow and hold about 5 or six ounces of liquor. The spoons are small and flat with holes to sit perfectly on top of the glass. While regular stemware and kitchen forks can work in a pinch, these specialty items add to the ‘cool factor’ for sure and take this drink to the next level.
How to Pour Absinthe:
It is important to pour slowly to enjoy not only the ritual but to observe the ‘louche’ that should occur.
- Pour 1 oz into a absinthe glass or similarly narrow stemmed glass that holds about 6 oz.
- Place a sugar cube onto an absinthe spoon or regular kitchen fork and place on top of the glass.
- Slowly pour cold distilled water onto the sugar to saturate it. Let set until you see the sugar cube begin to dissolve.
- Slowly add more cold distilled water. You are aiming for a ratio of about 3 to 5 parts water to one part absinthe.
- As the sugar water hits the absinthe you should notice the ‘louche’ which is a white cloudy formation. A fun part of the ritual is to observe this change and enjoying the herbal bouquet that is released by the absinthe.
- Allow the cocktail to rest and then stir to incorporate any remaining sugar.
- Sip slowly to enjoy.
Another variation serving absinthe involves club soda rather than distilled water. This can be a good option if you don’t have the specialty absinthe stemware but have a cocktail shaker on hand.
- Pour one ounce of absinthe into a cocktail shaker filled with crushed ice.
- Place a sugar cube on top of the ice.
- Slowly drip club soda onto the sugar cube until the sugar is completely dissolved. You are looking for a ratio of about 3 to 5 parts club soda to one part absinthe.
- Place the lid on the cocktail shaker and shake well. Pour into a cocktail glass and serve.
Is Drinking Absinthe Safe?
Absinthe is once again growing in popularity due to its dark history and rumored hallucinogenic properties. Many enjoy the absinthe ritual that comes with sipping on this once banned beverage.
However, with any high proof alcohol, it is important to consume and serve responsibly. Much of absinthe’s dark past came with its association with drunk and disorderly behavior that came with overserving and overconsumption.
When serving or consuming absinthe dilution with distilled water is always recommended. It is also a spirit that is meant to be sipped slowly.
Have you ever tried absinthe? Let us know how our recipe compares in the comments! As always we love hearing feedback for our recipes!
Easy Absinthe Recipe
For this recipe we are using infused distillation. There are other methods for producing absinthe, but we find this method to be the most straightforward.
800 ml of 43% Alcohol (try our cornmeal moonshine recipe!)
600 ml of distilled water
28 grams of Wormwood
9 grams of Hyssop
17 grams of Calamus
6 grams of Melissa
28 grams of Aniseed
25 grams of Fennel
10 grams of Star Anise
3 grams of Coriander
Add all ingredients to a sanitized glass jug with a lid and let the ingredients steep for about 10 days.
Add 600 ml of distilled water and steep for an additional 3 days.
Filter out the solids from the liquids using your cheesecloth and distil.
Once the distillation process is complete, dilute with 50% distilled water for serving. If you want to drink straight absinthe, check out our absinthe rituals below.