The Traditional Way to Drink Straight Absinthe

Get Out Your Absinthe Spoons - It's Time for the Little Green Fairy

Glass of Absinthe
An absinthe spoon and sugar cube are used to drink the potent green liqueur straight. Diana Lundin/Getty Images

At over 100 proof, it is not recommended to drink absinthe straight. Instead, there is a traditional preparation that was popularized in France and has been used for years to enjoy the strong anise-flavored liqueur.

It's a simple recipe (though more of a technique) that involves absinthe, sugar and water and once you get the hang of the pouring technique you will be able to create the perfect louche (the cloudiness that occurs when water touches the absinthe).

It is often called the Absinthe Ritual and it is very easy.

If you find that you enjoy absinthe in this traditional preparation you may also want to buy a set of absinthe glasses and spoons, which are designed specifically for this drink.

How to Pour Absinthe Straight

  1. Pour between 1 and 1 1/2 ounces of absinthe into an absinthe glass, or similarly-stemmed glass.
  2. Place a sugar cube on an absinthe spoon (a flat silver spoon pierced with holes) and lay the spoon across the top of the glass rim. If you do not have an absinthe spoon a large fork or tablespoon will work.
  3. Slowly pour cold, distilled water onto the sugar, just enough to saturate it, and allow it to set until the sugar cube begins to dissolve.
  4. Pour more water over the sugar (again, slowly) until the desired dilution is found and the sugar is completely dissolved. The most common ratio is between 3 and 5 parts water to 1 part absinthe. As the water hits the liquor a white cloudiness, called the louche, will swirl through the liquid, creating quite the spectacle and releasing the absinthe's herbal bouquet.
  1. After the louche has been allowed to rest, stir in the remaining and undissolved sugar.
  2. Sit down and slowly enjoy your absinthe.

More Ways to Drink Absinthe

Absinthe Drip

The 'Absinthe Drip' is very similar to the method above, though it adds ice and club soda to soften the drink a bit.

  1. Pour 2 ounces of absinthe into a mixing glass half-filled with crushed ice.
  1. Place a sugar cube on top of the ice.
  2. Very slowly drip club soda on the sugar cube until it is completely dissolved.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Flame It

Another popular method is to dunk a sugar cube in the absinthe, place the cube on a spoon and light it aflame. Allow the sugar to melt into the absinthe and, as the flame lowers, stir the remaining sugar into the liquid.