Absinthe 6 Rules: How To Serve And Drink Absinthe Right

The key etiquette considerations on how to serve and drink Absinthe. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest at the dining table.

absinthe glass and spoon

What Absinthe etiquette is

Absinthe etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and drink Absinthe. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow Absinthe etiquette to appropriately serve it to your guests.

If you are a guest, respect Absinthe etiquette rules to properly drink and enjoy it.

What you should know about Absinthe

Absinthe is a spirit. It is made from many herbs and plants. It is produced in many European countries.

Absinthe is sweet in flavor, being very similar to anise. Usually, it is clear green in color. Its alcohol content is very high, between 45% and 74%.

how to serve absinthe

Etiquette tips to serve and drink Absinthe

1) How to store Absinthe

Store Absinthe outside. Put the bottle in a cool and dry place. The temperature should be constant. 

Keep the bottle away from sources of heat. The bottle should not be exposed to direct light, natural or artificial. 

Do not store Absinthe in the fridge or in the freezer. Cold temperatures can affect its flavor.

After opening it, it is best to drink Absinthe within a few months. Naturally colored Absinthe oxidizes and turns from green to brown. 

2) How to prepare Absinthe

Absinthe can be served as a drink or mixed in a cocktail. In any case, do not chill Absinthe.

There are two methods to prepare Absinthe.

The French method requires a sugar cube, cold water, and a slotted spoon. 

  • Pour Absinthe in a digestif glass.
  • Put a sugar cube on the slotted spoon. 
  • Place the slotted spoon over the glass.
  • Pour cold water over the sugar cube and into the glass.

The sugared water turns Absinthe’s color from green to white. Fill the glass up to ⅔ or ¾ with water.

The Bohemian method is similar but involves fire.

  • Pour Absinthe in a digestif glass.
  • Wet a sugar cube in Absinthe.
  • Put the sugar cube on the slotted spoon. 
  • Place the slotted spoon over the glass.
  • Set the sugar cube on fire. Melted sugar must drop into the glass.
  • After a while, drop the remaining sugar from the spoon into the glass. 
  • The Absinthe in the glass may get on fire. Let it burn for a few seconds.
  • Pour cold water into the glass. 

Fill the glass up to ⅔ or ¾ with water.

3) How to serve & present Absinthe

Serve Absinthe at room temperature. Do not chill it. Cold temperatures prevent Absinthe from releasing its flavor.

You can serve Absinthe in small digestif glasses. Do not chill the glasses before serving.

Absinthe has a very high alcohol content. Thus, it is not appropriate to drink it undiluted. Serve it with water.

Present Absinthe in its own bottle or already poured in individual glasses. 

4) When to serve & drink Absinthe

Absinthe is a very strong spirit. Thus, it is most appropriate for after-meal drinks. Absinthe is too strong to be served during a meal or as a pre-meal drink. 

Serve Absinthe mostly on informal occasions. It is still considered an uncommon spirit for formal occasions.

5) Food & aromas to pair Absinthe with

With its strong anise flavor, Absinthe pairs well with many aromas. Coffee. Mint. Grenadine. 

You can pair Absinth with fruits. Citrus, such as lemon, lime, or orange skin. Fig. Pineapple. Coconut. Blackberry. Blueberry

In cocktails, you can mix Absinthe with Rum, Vermouth, or Gin

6) How to drink Absinthe

Drink Absinthe diluted. Follow one of the two traditional methods, described above. Or simply pour water into your glass. Ice is not common, as cold temperatures can prevent the flavor of Absinthe. 

Drink Absinthe in a digestif glass or a similar one.

Absinthe is a meditative drink. Thus, it is not appropriate to drink shots of Absinthe. Sip it like a long drink. A glass should last between 15 and 30 minutes.

absinthe etiquette mistakes

Absinthe serving & drinking etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

When serving or drinking Absinthe, avoid the worst etiquette mistakes. 

  • 10/10. Getting drunk. 
  • 7/10. Serving Absinthe chilled, cold, or with ice.
  • 7/10. Drinking shots of Absinthe.
  • 3/10. Drinking Absinthe as a pre-meal drink.

Additional information for properly serving Absinthe

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.

Absinthe contains about 287 calories per 100 ml (3.5 oz). An individual serving is a glass of 50 ml (1.7 oz). It contains 144 calories.

How to buy the best Absinthe

A crucial factor in Absinthe etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.

Choose the best

There are many brands of Absinthe. The main differences are in the aroma, color, alcohol content, and production method. The best brand depends on individual preferences.

Alternatives to Absinthe

You can replace Absinthe with a similar anise-flavored spirit. Try Sambuca or Pastis.

Sources

  • Absinthism: a fictitious 19th-century syndrome with present impact: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov