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I'm not an absinthe expert, and also, I'm not really unto rituals of any kind, so I'm curious. Can anybody tell me what the absinthe ritual does? You know, this.

Pour the absinthe into a glass. Place an absinthe spoon over it, put a sugar cube on top, then pour ice cold water over the sugar cube into the absinthe, very, very slowly; drop by drop in fact. Wait until the louche has developed, then stir.

What does this do that simply putting sugar and cold water in and stirring immediately doesn't do? I can't tell any difference between the results, other than that one method makes me wait longer.

Sorry if I'm offending people or if I'm coming across as insensitive, but I'm genuinely curious.

  • It makes the absinthe sweeter and cloudy at the same time. – Ken Graham Jul 9 at 3:49
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What does the absinthe ritual do?

It is a tradition and it makes the absinthe go cloudy!

It is simply the traditional way of drinking absinthe.

Absinthe is a distilled highly alcoholic drink. It is 45–74% alcohol by volume / 90–148 U.S. proof) beverage. It is an anise-flavoured spirit got from herbs. The herbs including the flowers and leaves of Artemisia absinthium ("grand wormwood"), together with green anise, sweet fennel.

The preparation

Traditionally, absinthe is put into a glass. A sugar cube is then placed in the bowl of a special spoon. Ice-cold water is poured or dripped over the sugar until the drink is diluted. During this process, the parts that are not soluble in water make the liquid cloudy. The resulting milky opalescence is called the louche.

Preparing absinthe the traditional way

Preparing absinthe the traditional way

Apart from just simply the traditional way of preparing absinthe, it also has the merit of sweetening up a little this mildly bitter drink, as well as making it less strong for those who enjoy it thus.

Serving Absinthe with Water and Sugar

Mix a simple blend. Add 3 parts ice-cold water to 1 part absinthe. For a single serving, this is roughly 3 ounces of absinthe (or 3 shots) to 1 ounce of absinthe (or 1 shot). For each single serving, stir in 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Alternately, absinthe can be sipped neat if you prefer the undiluted taste. But if so, drink moderately. Keep in mind that absinthe has nearly twice the alcohol content of most other liquors, which is why it is typically watered down.

If you are a fan of sugar, mix a teaspoon with the ice water before pouring. However, if you like your absinthe to be less sweet, skip it, since the louche’s milky cloud is formed not by the addition of sugar, but by chemical reactions between water and absinthe’s ingredients. - How to Make Absinthe Cocktail

My sister-in-law is from the Czech Republic, where the drinking of absinthe is quite popular. We always have it the traditional way, but many do not. Neat is alright too.

Collection of absinthe spoons. These are special spoons used to hold the sugar cube. Ice-cold water is poured over the sugar to dilute the absinthe. Note the slot on the handle that allows the spoon to rest safely on the brim of the glass.

Collection of absinthe spoons. These are special spoons used to hold the sugar cube. Ice-cold water is poured over the sugar to dilute the absinthe. Note the slot on the handle that allows the spoon to rest safely on the brim of the glass. - Absinthe ((Wikipedia)

  • Thanks for your answer. However, since you get the exact same result by simply putting water and sugar in and stirring, only a lot quicker, I'm wondering why the ritual is necessary. That was my question. – Mr Lister Jul 8 at 6:15
  • It's because you need to control the amount of water added until it just turns cloudy. This is when it is at the perfect level. This obviously differs for each drink and is a very precise activity meaning that measuring would be impracticable. If you go to an absinthe bar they are usually happy to explain it all, as well as the ritual, – Bee Jul 8 at 10:06
  • @Bee That sounds like it could be an answer. I searched the web, but I didn't find any rational reasoning behind the ritual... – Mr Lister Jul 8 at 20:39
  • Ah see I heard it from a bartender so can't back it up with a source! – Bee Jul 8 at 21:43
  • @Bee If you are a fan of sugar, mix a teaspoon with the ice water before pouring. However, if you like your absinthe to be less sweet, skip it, since the louche’s milky cloud is formed not by the addition of sugar, but by chemical reactions between water and absinthe’s ingredients. See here – Ken Graham Jul 9 at 3:34

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