I've spent the better part of the day thinking this one over and here's what I've come up with:
Absinthe is not like the other spirits.
It's true, one can simply grab a bottle of the nearest absinthe (or absinthe knock off) and take large hobo-esque swigs out of the bottle. It's also true that one can light an alcohol-soaked sugar cube on fire, dump it into a glass of high proof alcohol and—before starting a conflagration that would rival the Chicago fire—attempt to douse it with the appropriate amount of water. Hell, it's also true that one can make a terribly bitter spirit, label it as "absinthe", and sell it with the above serving suggestions. But just because it's true, doesn't make it right or safe or even legal. But enough of the lesson in morality. We're here to discuss real absinthe consumption.
True absinthe is pastoral. It's crafted by distillers who take pride in their work. It doesn't yield to fads, fashions, and buzz. And although it demands a proper process, it rewards with an experience that can't be replaced by glitz and glam.
Absinthe is something to be seduced and savored. The drinker consumes not only the absinthe but the surroundings. The cafe, the bar, the room, or wherever else they may be. The conversation flows, the images are recorded in memory, the absinthe is slowly drunk.
All too often we place the emphasis on the result and forget entirely about the method. This, I think, is why many are led astray by the lies told about thujone and hallucinations, etc. So, when someone starts their voyage with absinthe they tend to easily be confused by the clouds of obfuscation that are conjured by those selling snake oil. The snake oil peddlers understand that the best method of getting new converts is to provide a cool methodology, a feeling of edgy rebellion, and--above all--something that'll "take them higher".
But the true absinthe experience lies in complete opposition to this.
True, there still remains a ritual in preparation. But this ritual has a practical purpose and is more than meaningless theater. The process is fairly simple: slowly drip ice cold water into a glass containing absinthe. Sugar and an absinthe spoon are optional. If you use sugar: drip the water over the sugar (held above the glass by means of an absinthe spoon) until desired ratio of water/absinthe is reached.
Now, for the absinthe drinker the experience is two-fold: absinthe preparation and absinthe consumption.
Granted, most of the time is spent in preparation but this only enhances the drinker's intimacy with the drink and creates a hedonistic pleasure about everything that absinthe gives you. While absinthe is being prepared, the drinker is left with time on their hands. Look for a moment: during preparation, the room fills with the bouquet of absinthe and as the point of consumption draws near the absinthe slowly changes from green to creamy white, assuring the drinker that all is now ready. Simply put, proper absinthe preparation is hedonism at its best.
Then the moment arrives.
The drinker has a glass of absinthe prepared and waiting for consumption. But he simply doesn't gulp her down in perverse swigs. Absinthe is something to be seduced and savored. The drinker consumes not only the absinthe but the surroundings. The cafe, the bar, the room, or wherever else they may be. The conversation flows, the images are recorded in memory, the absinthe is slowly drunk. This is important because as the drinker consumes both the world and the drink; both work in tandem on the drinker. As the drink enters the drinker's system the experience becomes transcendental. Conversation is not simply conversation. Life is not simply Life. But all is lived. Conversation is lived, life is lived, love is lived.
All of this from simply slowing down. Respecting a drink. And, most importantly, living a life lived.
Reproduced by permission of the author. Originally published at absinthedrinkers.org .