Feeling a bit wary of the green fairy? Never fear. Absinthe, a spirit with a long and turbulent history, is one drink that's meant to be enjoyed — in moderation, of course. Now that absinthe has been officially legal in the U.S. for nearly six years, there's more ways than ever to try absinthe. And while we can always enjoy it in a cocktail, it turns out there is an art to drinking absinthe.
As mixologist Simon Ford once demonstrated, absinthe is best drunk the old-fashioned way. And the mixologist at Rex 1516, Heather Rodkey, explains exactly how it should be done.
What you'll need:
• Proper glassware: An absinthe glass looks almost like a glass you'd get your sundae in at an old fountain shop, but made out of finer crystal
• A slotted spoon: There are many incarnations of the absinthe spoon, ranging from ornate sterling silver to a more functional stainless steel
• 1 sugar cube
• A carafe of chilled water
• The absinthe of your choice
How to do it:
1. Pour 1 1/2 ouces of absinthe in your glass
2. Place a sugar cube on your slotted spoon
3. Pour a steady, fine stream of chilled water over the sugar cube, dissolving as much as possible in the process, into your glass of absinthe — about 4 to 5 ounces of water, depending on your tastes
4. Stir the remainder of the sugar cube in the "louche," which is the cloudy, aromatic beverage you will be enjoying.
As to all that hype about whether the green fairy actually exists? Rodkey thinks that like most liquors, absinthe has its own special effect. "I've personally found the more herbal (gin, absinthe) the calmer, more dreamy the buzz," she says. "Whiskey makes some people angry, tequila, wrought with bad decisions. The personal effects of absinthe are something one must try at least once in a lifetime." Said Lucas Bonchick during South Beach Food and Wine, "I will admit that a lot of it is mental perception.... I like to say that with other types of alcohol you feel it in your head. With absinthe, you feel it above your head." All the more reason to enjoy some absinthe this week.
In case you don't feel like drinking absinthe on its own, some cocktails to try: