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Aaronjw

Thoughts on Sugar

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Does anyone here actually like absinthe with sugar? I'm no expert with absinthe, but I've had a few brands (Pacifique, Vieux Carre, Pernod, and one other whose name I can't recall although it's quite good), but all the brands I've tried seem too sweet to benefit from sugar at all, and so I haven't tried it. Don't even own an absinthe spoon, actually.

 

Do you find this is the case? Are modern absinthes perhaps sweeter than older recipes, and so that tradition isn't really necessary today?

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It's not the absinthe, it's you. ;)

No, seriously; it's a genetically-influenced preference. This is why we always correct people who say things like "a good absinthe doesn't need sugar". Some people perceive the flavor of anethole as a source of sweetness, some don't. It may (or may not) be connected to the "super-taster" gene, but I'm inclined to think it is.

Non-sugarers are actually in the minority. We kept a running poll on the site for years, and no matter how many responses we got, the numbers remained fairly consistent:

2008 - 600 responses
40.3% always use sugar.
23.3% often use sugar.
20.9% seldom use sugar.
15.4% never use sugar.

2015 - 4000 responses
40.5% always use sugar
23.8% often use sugar
17.5% seldom use sugar
18.3% never use sugar

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That's interesting! I'd be curious to know about the drinking habits of those groups; IE, who only drinks absinthe, who drinks wine, or various sorts of liquors. This may again be just my own perception of the sweetness of the anethole, but absinthe seems significantly sweeter than other alcoholic drinks (barring sweet ciders or meads and that sort of thing). So I'd be curious to know if their taste in absinthe relates at all to consumption of other somewhat bitter drinks?

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I almost only drink absinthe, and never ever use sugar. I drink little wine and no beer, because of yeasts and sulfites. By contrast my sisters drinks wine and always has sugar. Absinthe always tastes sweet to me.

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That's interesting, I never use sugar... except for the Vieux Carre! I found it pretty intense and it was more palatable with it. (although later I did a higher dilution and it was not as bad). I personally find that sugar just messes up the flavor for my other absinthes...harder to get a full "herbal experience". Like you're trying to mask something... (which is why I did it with VC!). I pretty much exclusively drink absinthe, unless I'm out somewhere and "have to" have a drink. I wish it was standard in the bars! I'd even settle for Lucid! Anything that isn't other alcohol!

Edited by AbsintheWolf

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That's interesting, I never use sugar... except for the Vieux Carre! I found it pretty intense and it was more palatable with it. (although later I did a higher dilution and it was not as bad). I personally find that sugar just messes up the flavor for my other absinthes...harder to get a full "herbal experience". Like you're trying to mask something... (which is why I did it with VC!). I pretty much exclusively drink absinthe, unless I'm out somewhere and "have to" have a drink. I wish it was standard in the bars! I'd even settle for Lucid! Anything that isn't other alcohol!

Interesting you mention Vieux Carre, because that's one that actually seems almost TOO sweet to my taste! I like it well enough but I haven't gotten into it as much as I did the Pacifique or Leopold Bros. (that's the one I couldn't recall the name of).

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VC just seemed off to me. It's not terrible, I'll still drink it, it's just weird...like it tastes too much like a maceration to me. Very different IMO to my better absinthes: Jade's, Duplais's, Leopold, Delaware Phoenix's. I'm not really a huge fan of Pacifique either, although I have almost finished the entire bottle.

 

Maybe you just have the super taster gene and I don't. Absinthe doesn't really taste sweet to me, I just don't add sugar because I hate sugary things.

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For the first several years I always added sugar to my absinthe. The last couple of years I've moved away from that and I actually prefer it without. Even with Roquette.

 

I do perceive a natural sweetness in many of the absinthes and for me that's enough.

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Late to this topic, but--

I almost always take my absinthe with sugar. Tastes much better that way to me.

 

I also drink hard cider and flavored liqueurs (usually as flavor shots added to soda). I don't drink wine and I usually don't drink beer (don't like the taste, stopped forcing myself to try it socially when I rediscovered hard cider). I haven't drunk most hard liquor varieties in years (mixed or straight)-- closest I come to that is still drinking Southern Comfort (usually mixed).

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I began by using sugar in my Absinthe... just assumed it was part of the ritual and also a good or even necessary pairing, similar to coffee. And also like coffee, the more I explored more and more kinds, I found that I no longer needed it. Going a step further I would even call it a detractor.

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