All About Absinthe and La Louche
I’ve been hugely excited about reviewing the luminescent green bottle of Absinthe that arrived in the post from artisan spirits company Two Birds Spirits situated in Market Harborough, Leicestershire. They make some of the most enticing sounding spirits on the market and having reviewed their delicious Salted Caramel English Vodka recently for my Salted Caramel White Russian recipe I couldn’t wait to experiment with la fée verte (“the green fairy” – the colour coming from the chlorophyll of the herbs that flavour it), the nickname given to this most potent of spirits. And to find out more about La Louche – the traditional way to drink Absinthe
Originally made in Switzerland and associated with artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec as well as writers including Wilde, Proust and Byron, Absinthe has a Bohemian reputation due to the hallucinogenic properties of Thujone, a compound extracted from wormwood, one of the key ingredients. However recent research has shown that the effects of the drink have more to do with the fact that it is exceptionally strong and the Two Birds Absinthe clocks in at an eye-watering 70% proof!
So how do you drink Absinthe? At a volume of 70% only a mad person or a jazz musician would drink the spirit neat – so for the record, it’s like a supercharged Ouzo or Pernod – but for those of you who like your cocktails strong, it is used as a rinse for the glass in the classic Sazerac cocktail, a potent blend of bitters with rye whiskey and cognac.
But we are going back to Paris in the 1900s to investigate the arcane ritual of “La Louche”, and of course the English word louche means ‘disreputable or sordid in a rakish or appealing way’, a state I constantly aspire to… A few years ago I noticed Art-Deco styled, water-filled glass Absinthe Fountains appearing in some of the smarter bars in London, but never seemed to have the opportunity to investigate. I have since discovered that La Louche involves dripping iced water from the fountain through a cube of sugar that sits on a perforated Absinthe spoon perched over a glass. The addition of water releases the essential oils in the Absinthe giving the spirit its aroma and transforming the liquid from emerald green to a dreamlike cloudiness.
Absinthe and La Louche - how to serve this potent and infamous drink
- 1 bottle of Two Birds Absinthe
- 1 sugar cube
- 1 jug of chilled still mineral water such as Evian
Pour 1 oz of absinthe into a glass.
Place an Absinthe spoon (available from Amazon) over the glass and a sugar cube onto the spoon.
Slowly pour the iced water from the jug over the sugar cube with the resulting sugar solution blending in with the Absinthe and turning it cloudy.
Sip slowly with care!
If you’d like to try performing La Louche with Absinthe for yourself, Two Birds Spirits products including this fabulous Absinthe are available in either 70cl and 20cl bottles, as well as fledgeling boxes which make a great taster pack for gifts. They are a British artisan business really worth supporting. You can find out more about them at http://www.twobirdsspirits.co.uk/