Absinthe Preparation – The Traditional Method

Traditionally, absinthe is poured into a glass over which a specially designed slotted spoon is placed. A sugar cube is then deposited in the bowl of the spoon. Ice-cold water is poured or dripped over the sugar until the drink is diluted to a ratio between 3:1 and 5:1. During this process, the components that are not soluble in water, mainly those from anise, fennel, and star anise, come out of solution and cloud the drink. The resulting milky opalescence is called the louche (French for “opaque” or “shady”). The addition of water is important, causing the herbs to “blossom” and bringing out many of the flavors originally overpowered by the anise.

Originally a waiter would serve a dose of absinthe, ice water in a carafe, and sugar separately, and the drinker would prepare it to his preference. With increased popularity, the absinthe fountain, a large jar of ice water on a base with spigots, came into use. It allowed a number of drinks to be prepared at once, and with a hands-free drip, patrons were able to socialize while louching a glass.

Although many bars served absinthe in standard glasses, a number of glasses were specifically made for absinthe. These had a dose line, bulge, or bubble in the lower portion denoting how much absinthe should be poured in. One “dose” of absinthe is around 1 ounce (30 ml), and most glasses used this as the standard, with some drinkers using as much as 1 1/2 ounces (45 ml).

Preparation Method:

  1. Pour absinthe into your glass, filling it about 1/3 of the way. It earned it’s nickname “The Little Green Fairy” from its decadent color and its rumored hallucinogenic properties (there IS a chemical called thujune in it that is similar to THC in marijuana, but acts as a stimulant).
  2. Set an absinthe spoon on top of the glass, and place a sugar cube in it. Absinthe spoons are usually quite pretty and are often collectible. You can buy them online or maybe in some liquor stores.
  3. Slowly decant cold water over the sugar cube. It will melt into the absinthe. Fill the glass with water this way. Wait for the drink to “louche” or turn white and cloudy. It will eventually swirl its way to a cloudy green color. As it is louching, various flavors are being released by the reaction of sugar and absinthe.
  4. Once the absinthe has an opaque, milky quality, settle back and enjoy. You should feel relaxed and confident. Anything else, and you’re overdoing it.

If you still have any doubts, watch this instructional video.

Buy Absinthe Original, King Gold Absinth or Bitter Spirit


  1. FauptdodoFego says

    thanks! 🙂

    Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!


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