Drinking Absinthe as a Newbie

A few weeks ago, I was exploring Old Town Prague in hopes of finding some antique jewelry as a keepsake when I stumbled across a hidden gem. I walked by a small glass door that looked like it was hiding behind an old dilapidated building. The slender windows also emanated this green hue. I was immediately drawn to this place and took a quick peek inside. Turns out this charming and inviting spot, is a bar that specializes in absinthe: something I've never tried and don't know much about. All the more reason to go in and see what it's all about. I quickly snapped a photo of myself in front of this spot and made my husband promise to take me back here later that evening for pre-dinner cocktails. 

This also allowed me some time to do a little research on absinthe. Didn't want to walk into this spot not knowing anything. And thank goodness I did, because Absintherie not only carries one of the most extensive lists of absinthe for patrons to try, they are also one of the biggest collectors of absinthe in Central Europe. Their absinthe museum holds over 250 bottles of absinthe, many of which are one of a kind and some date so far back, that they are antiques themselves.

Ok so as a newbie, I learned a few things that immediately turn you into a quick pro when ordering at a fancy absinthe bar so that you don't get overwhelmed by their extensive lists.


1. The proper and traditional way to serve absinthe is to allow the water to drip from an iced carafe or absinthe fountain, over a cube of sugar placed on an absinthe spoon (slotted) and let it dilute into the absinthe sitting in a glass below. It will create a cloudy drink that is meant to be sipped.

2. The other way to serve absinthe which is not recommended is to light a sugar cube that has been soaked in alcohol on fire and then drop it into the absinthe. Once the fire is extinguished either on it's own or with a splash of water into the glass, you drink the absinthe like a shot. This is the Bohemian method, originating from the Czech Republic. (Absinthe was very popular in Czech Republic dating back to 1888 and started producing their own versions in the 20th century)

3. The best absinthe is produced is France and Switzerland. It originated in Switzerland and became wildly popular in France.

4. Aside from where it's made, absinthe has two production methods that are used to help drinkers decide what type they prefer, either distilled (known to be of superior quality) or mixed (lessor quality, perhaps add color, flavorings, etc).

5. And the one thing you all are probably wondering...No it does not make you hallucinate.

Ok, so I could go on and on about this but let's stop here because this is enough information for you, to guide your way through the absinthe menu as an amateur. Look for absinthe produced in France or Switzerland and one that is distilled rather than mixed. By selecting one from either of these countries, they will automatically serve it the traditional way which is preferred. Now you look like you know what you're doing:)

At Absintherie, I ordered Jade Absinthe from Switzerland.

It came with this fancy absinthe fountain containing dry ice. #loveit

The end product is a cloudy light green drink that tastes like licorice. My husband on the other hand is not a fan of anything licorice, so he opted for one of their absinthe cocktails. The absinthe berry shown below was a nicely balanced drink that's perfect for those who don't want to venture into pure absinthe.

As you can see, absinthe is far more fun to drink than some other types of liquor. The theatrics that come along with the drink and the history of it alone, is intriguing. Sipping cocktails in a cozy little spot like this, while admiring old absinthe spoons and fountains make for a nice night out

If you are ever in Prague, do go check out Absintherie. And if you are not a fan of licorice, you can try one of their absinthe cocktails, absinthe ice cream or chocolates where the licorice flavor is not so prevalent. ENJOY!

About the Author

Kathy Fang

"I run a business by day, work the kitchen lines at night, switch into blogger mode by midnight and occasionally travel the world to hunt for inspiration" Kathy Fang is chef and co-owner of Fang, a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco offering a fresh take on dishes influenced by both Northern and Southern China’s cuisine. The daughter of famed House of Nanking chef/owner Peter Fang, Ms. Fang has emerged from her renowned culinary family to enliven San Francisco’s food scene with her own cuisine at Fang Restaurant located in the city’s South of Market (SOMA) neighborhood. She has contributed and appeared in numerous publications such as Wall Street Journal, Self Magazine, Men's Journal, SF Chronicle, Singtao Daily, Examiner, Munchies, and makes appearances on Food Network, CNN, and Travel Channel. She recently became a two time Chopped Champion.