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Jack Griffin

Brouilleurs

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I thought it might be beneficial to have a thread dedicated to all things brouilleur; after all, a brouilleur is

an important and commonly used item in absinthe prep. There are many types, and people use different techniques in their use. topics like: Fill it up and steady stream vs. slow pour and drips, sugaring, glass vs. metal, modern and antiques, etc.... I searched and found no dedicated threads on this topic, and thought it might be helpful and educational. Let's talk about the beasties, post photos, discuss how they aid in prep,

etc... I personally love the things when I'm drinking by myself or with a friend, and don't want to deal with a fountain.

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Don't you dare tempting me :)

 

I mainly use one of my brouilleurs, most of the time (onacuz my old lady of a fountain is high maintenance).

But well, you already knew it.

 

So far I have :

* 1 modern (Frenchman silver plated see saw)

* 3 metal vintage (none of them being... plain)

* 1 glass vintage

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I have, both from the recently dear departed Maison d'Absinthe:

 

--glass brouilleur, that when I did use it, I put sugar in, ice on top, and poured water in. I always ended up with some sugar left in the bottom although the thing sure flowed fast. I never cared for it that much although it was easier than dripping from a carafe.

 

--seesaw/balancier/cusenier style auto-verseur, that I use all the time now. I put sugar on spoon and then the balancier above that, fill the balancier with ice, and pour water in. With the ice displacement, it takes two fills to make un absinthe parfait. As I said in another thread, j'aime l'auto-verseur!

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Yes Clément, I am tempting you! I want to see photos of that Bloch! Drool drool!

 

Tami, I use the auto-verseur the same way, with a spoon under it, and a sugar on one side of the rocker.

I have truly come to love all three of my antique brouilleurs.

 

1- a 3 hole silver-plated

2- 19th century thick glass with one hole

3- Terminus

 

The one drawback to all these is that they block the aroma as water is added. This is what makes the Bloch so interesting, as well as the couple others I've seen that have arms or wings to grasp the edge of the glass,

keeping a large enough space for the aroma to waft up.

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I've never noticed an absence of aroma.

 

Scientifically speaking, the new liquid that's dripping into the glass has to displace the air, so the air has to be coming out. If it was airtight, the water wouldn't drip in at all.

 

There might be less of an aroma due to the lack of turbulence and therefore not as much aeration of the absinthe (steady stream as opposed to drips), which might not push out as much aroma, but that could be altered with the marble method, which is what I use.

 

But that's just me nitpicking. :)

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Yes, I have noticed however that I need to be much closer to notice the aroma when a brouileur is covering the rim. Also, some of glasses fit so well with the stepped design of some of these, that it really does form a seal of sorts, of course not air-tight. With the more room-filling aromas, I find them stepped down a bit from when I use a fountain, or a spoon and carafe. All of our noses are different too. My wife's nose is so sensitive to absinthe she would smell it no matter what! Of course, once the brouilleur is removed, it is not an issue!

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This is the nice thick glass one I got from Marc. The stream is very delicate, and as you can see in this shot, in a tall glass like this Yvonne, the stream breaks up into a splattery combo of stream and drips before it hits the surface, creating a wonderful and light "battering" effect.

 

 

yvonneLouche.jpg

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That is beautiful Scott.

It makes me think of a question I've been meaning to ask. I've seen Brouilleurs which are more of a drip and some which are a thin stream. Is one better than the other, stream vs. drip?

 

I see the discussion here in reference to the aroma and the comment Brian made about agitation and I was wondering if none was best, or if a slow drip was best. Would your choice of Brouilleur be related to which absinthe you were drinking?

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Criminy! Ryan, THIS is why I started this thread! I wanted it to be source of opinion, experience and info.

We after all, are an organization that lists education as part of our mission.

 

The only brouilleur I have that drips as a function of design is my auto-verseur, often referred to as a see-saw dripper. It is wonderful, and everyone should have one. As far as the styles with holes, most will either drip OR stream, depending on water pressure. The more full of water, the stronger gravity pulls, and the more likely you will have a solid stream. I find that if I fill them a little at a time, I can get a nice drip, or series of raindrops falling into the absinthe. This works best with the tiny holes in the Terminus, but all my brouilleurs will do this if the filling/pouring technique is varied.

 

Also, some folks will add the sugar into the brouilleur, which will slow down, and partially clog the hole(s)

which in itself, can turn a stream to drips. It's all about experimenting!

 

I LOVE the way a thin steady stream creates rolling fog and clouds...it will however cause a faster louche than drips, and in some absinthes that require a steady slow drip to louche properly, care must be taken not to add water too quickly. In these cases, I use the auto-verseur or a fountain typically.

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Yes Clément, I am tempting you!

 

Well, here you go :

 

_MG_8639.JPG

_MG_8641.JPG

_MG_8642.JPG

_MG_8645.JPG

_MG_8646.JPG

 

and the other one I have in photo :

 

imag0004o.jpg

 

Finally I got one like that for XMas

 

p1050560ms.jpg

 

IMHO, not all brouilleur go with all absinthes. The cusenier for example is good for a blanche, not so much for a verte, a glass one is too fast for me, you've got to "battre" your absinthe a bit like they used to say.

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That is some good info Scott, I'm going to keep this one in mind when I get ready to get a brouilleur.

 

I had heard from another WS'er that he likes a "razor thin stream", but I think your description of the fog and clouds explains the same thing and helps me understand what he was trying to say better. I enjoy the different perspectives, they really help a newbie like me understand easier.

 

I've been exploring my new fountain and I only bring it up because I've been using a slow steady drip to louche as opposed to pouring from a carafe (or in my case a near frozen bottled water) and really enjoying the results.

 

Clement, can you explain why the one you gave as an example is good for blanches but not so much for vertes? I'm really curious now.

Beautiful photos by the way :thumbup:

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The eternal debate on how the flow of water should be poured into absinthe...

 

Actually, there are as many kinds of brouilleurs as there are theories. But let's skim a bit through it.

 

First of all, a bit of history, shall we, gentlemen ?

 

According to Benoit Noel, famous historian in the modern culture of absinthe, in this excellent article (which would deserve a translation, but well), spoons appear late in the history of absinthe, approximately in the late 1880s.

 

Before that, people didn't care much for sugar in their absinthe, because there was an overall preference for bitterness over sweetness.

 

The first records of methods of preparation of absinthe show that the water is poured like you would pour tea in northern africa

georgeslafosse.jpg

 

The brouilleurs, introduced far before the spoons, according the research in the french press archives lead by M. Noel, may have been created to simplify this method, which could get nasty with drunk patrons (with more water on the table than in the glass).

 

There may be a case here for the fact that the original expectations for a brouilleur were for it :

- not to be used with sugar

- not to pour a "regular" stream of water

 

the seesaw (based on the original cusenier, pictured above) is proof of it : its complex mechanics don't go well with an addition of sugar in the cup, and it definitely won't pour a single stream of water, on purpose.

Similarly, the terminus brouilleur does not have a single large hole (like glass brouilleurs) but rather several thin ones.

 

There are, AFAIK three kinds of brouilleurs specifically created to be used correctly with sugar :

- One has never been found and is only pictured on a patent held by a french collector

- this one, very scarce, which you can find on the french version of the virtual absinthe museum

silverplatedfountain10k.jpg

- and lately, the Bloch, picture above

 

So, there you have it :

- historically in France we used to "battre" our absinthe, which means "beat" the surface of the liquid

- there are still brouilleurs (mainly the glass ones) which pour regular streams of water

- scarce are the brouilleurs which can be used with sugar.

 

But I was forgetting something.

 

Who told you ALL brouilleurs were created to pour water into absinthe ? (I have heard the results are not so great)

 

And now, to conclude this long post

Clement, can you explain why the one you gave as an example is good for blanches but not so much for vertes? I'm really curious now.

Because you don't ever add sugar to a blanche

Beautiful photos by the way

thank you Sir

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Wonderful Clément, thanks for taking so much time to share your experience with us!

I have the modern version of the brouilleur with the grill below it. It does work nicely.

 

I prefer NOT to use sugar in a brouilleur, though it does work well with the 3 hole silver one I have.

If I'm really in the mood to use a specific brouilleur and feel the need to sugar, I'll use a dash of simple syrup. As Tami said, a spoon can be used UNDER the Auto-Verseur if you want sugar with it.

 

I also prefer the light "battering" over a solid stream, and find it can still be acheived if water is added carefully and slowly to any of my brouilleurs. Thanks again!

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Clement's picture captured my approach. Stream that cold water from the heights!

 

A slow drip? Bah! :laugh:

I have a wealth of gadgets and gewgaws but was that really common a hundred years ago? Probably not. Slosh the ice water over the sugar, splash the hell out of the absinthe and fill my room with the herbal aroma. I have no patience for delicate absinthe wanting a louche gently coaxed from their anise deprived depths. Give me absinthe that delights in being an herbal bomb, spicy and complex as hell. Delicate and bold intermingling in a glass that takes pleasure in its mouth-coating flavor.

 

Disagree? No worries. That's why we need as many different absinthes as our shelves will hold. I'll take a Zinfandel over a Pinot Grigio, any day. It's nothing but individual tastes. I understand some people actually like American Pilsners, too.

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Right now I'm using a tupperware tumbler for adding water. Sometimes it's a nice thin stream and sometimes it's not that nice. the booze gets battered and if it sets a minute or so, the louche will come around as will the aroma.

 

And people like Tzechsinthe
:shock:

 

Loved the pics everyone. They give me something to look forward to when I get some casual $$$. Cheers!

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Will you be putting on a demonstration of that technique in June, Joe? ;)

 

Bill your tumbler pour sounds a lot like my water bottle pour. I found a carafe at the thrift but haven't tried it yet. I don't have the steadiest hand.

 

Clement, thanks for the answers and more photos and especially for the explanation.

 

In the not too distant future I can hear myself saying "I really want to know more about you, no don't tell me of your political views, show me how you prepare an absinthe."

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And people like Tzechsinthe, but, oh, well...
Now, that's just crazy talk. :laugh:
In the not too distant future I can hear myself saying "I really want to know more about you, no don't tell me of your political views, show me how you prepare an absinthe."
Very astute. I like that very much.
Will you be putting on a demonstration of that technique in June, Joe? ;)
I hadn't considered it but now I'm thinking how much fun it would be to do it as a competitive event. Absinthe party games? Cool!

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Absinthe party games? Cool!

 

 

Hmmm... :g:

 

• Guess "How Many Sugar Cubes"

 

• Pin the Wings on the Fairy

 

• and a HerbSack Race!

 

:laf: I just got the image of the tricycle race from Revenge of the Nerds in my head. I'm going to keep that, for laughs, throughout the day.

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They will torture you with full contact badminton and get you drunk. Or is it the other way around. :g:

 

Once you've got a fine stream from a tumbler a foot above the glass, you'll be surprised how steady you can be. I'll play that game! ;)

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Once you've got a fine stream from a tumbler garden hose with a sprayer attachment a foot above the glass, you'll be surprised how steady you can be. I'll play that game! ;)

 

Fixed. :devil:

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Perhaps a matter of nationality. I like to pour the water over the sugar very slowly and I keep thinking the slower is the better for the taste of the absinthe... ;) Huge records (texts, photos, drawings, adversiting) show us that one hundred years ago the drop by drop of ice cold water was important :D

The main purpose of the brouilleurs was to deliver this drop by drop of cold water without the help of a carafe or a fountain.

Edited by Heure Verte

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My money is on you, Bill.

Me? I'm a mess. :laugh:

Perhaps a matter of nationality. I like to pour the water over the sugar very slowly and I keep thinking the slower is the better for the taste of the absinthe... ;)

Nah, it's not a nationality thing. People over here frequently get obsessed with a painfully slow drip by drip. I'm a heretic. Jules admonishes me for "power louching" when I want a refreshing glass of absinthe but don't want to wait. Mostly, I like to tease people but I swear, it's all in good fun. :wave2:

 

I'm sure people were equally obsessed with drop-by-drop water delivery a hundred plus years ago but I have also read descriptions of a "thin stream of ice water," too. I'm sure many brouilleurs were very good at drop-by-drop but mine delivers a thin stream of water unless I toss a marble into the brouilleur to slow it down. Even our little see-saw brouilleur is pretty fast on the delivery.

 

It's nothing more than a personal preference. I prefer absinthe that's bold and spicy. Other people prefer a very delicate absinthe that demands a slow drip to get a good louche. It's nothing more than personal preference.

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Once you've got a fine stream from a tumbler garden hose with a sprayer attachment a foot above the glass, you'll be surprised how steady you can be. I'll play that game! ;)

 

Fixed. :devil:

 

 

And, who shall be giving the medals out for "Distance louching", regarding said sprayer attachment? One rule: Don't tip your glass.

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Not me, Bauble. I'm going to be busy warming up for the three-legged herb sack races with Ryan.

 

I agree with your girl, Jay. My favorite blanches are more favorite with a little sugar. ;)

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