By now I’m assuming most know of absinthe’s fascinating past. Part of the large group of anise-flavoured spirits that exist globally (anisette, pastis, ouzo, zambuca, raki, arak, etc.), one of its key herbal ingredients (wormwood) was wrongly associated with hallucinogenic effects in the early to mid 1900’s. . What regulators failed to appreciate, however, was that 75% alcohol content was fare more likely to cause hallucinations than an herb. Anyway, absinthe was legalized in the 1990’s in this part of the world and is now regularly available at the LCBO. The best absinthes hail from France and Switzerland. Anise or black liquorice flavour is detested by a fairly large proportion of the population so know your guests before you serve absinthe or include it in a cocktail.
By far the most enjoyable way to enjoy absinthe is as they did in France at the turn of the last century. If you like the flavour and don’t mind getting hammered in the middle of a beautiful summer day, get your hands on an absinthe fountain. BYOB in Toronto sell many, as do several websites at this point, including Amazon. Pick up a few absinthe glasses and spoons at the same time.
Simply fill the fountain with ice water and place a sugar cube (or slightly crushed berry) on the spoon over the glass containing approximately 1 oz of absinthe. Turn the spigot until a light drip of water passes through the sugar cube and into the spirit. Note the louche effect on the spirit as the water content increases. The whole process is quite the event, and sure to impress. Enjoy!
*Absinthe is super potent. One glass of absinthe is equivalent to two normal cocktails. Consider yourself warned.