Absinthe, an effervescent and bitter green spirit known for causing hallucinations and other adverse side effects, was long banned across most of Europe and North America until relatively recently, lending the beverage an air of mystery that continues today.
Absinthe: The Science of Louche
Although the exact chemical interactions between absinthe and humans is still subject to debate, most agree that when taken responsibly absinthe is safe and can be enjoyed responsibly in moderation. But knowing how to prepare this drink properly in order to fully appreciate its beautiful botanical flavors is vitally important.
Start by gathering high-quality glasses (ideally with wide mouths) and an ounce of absinthe. Next, rest a special slotted spoon along the rim of the glass and add an ounce of absinthe; place a sugar cube on it as you slowly pour iced water into it; this will cause an optical effect known as “louche,” which scatters light and creates its milky opalescent appearance in your drink.
As absinthe louches, aromas from fennel and anise emerge, giving it its distinctive herbal taste. Meanwhile, distillation separates water from alcohol, while alcohol evaporates further to leave water behind and form its signature herbal profile. Finally, secondary distillation allows brands and regional laws to adjust the alcohol proof level accordingly.