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Absinthe – The Tools of the Trade

The tools involved in the preparation and enjoyment of absinthe are nearly as famous as the green liqueur itself, and in fact the drinking ritual involves a number of unique tools and paraphernalia. The tools of absinthe preparation have been featured prominently in a number of famous works of art, including famous works by Pablo Picasso and other famous artists of the 20th century. These famous tools have also figured prominently in a number of classic novels, poems and other works of literature. With all this attention, it makes sense for all absinthe enthusiasts to take a look at the tools of the trade.

The minimum tools needed to prepare a proper glass of this green liqueur include a clean glass, a sugar cube, a specially designed slotted spoon and a supply of chilled water. When it comes to combining these ingredients, the ritual surrounding the creation of a proper glass of absinthe hold nearly as much mystery as the drink itself, and just thinking about the many famous individuals who have shared this ritual, from Ernest Hemmingway to Pablo Picasso, adds to the allure.

The Absinthe Spoon

Choice of Poison Andrew Stawarz

The absinthe spoon is perhaps the most famous of all absinthe paraphernalia, and antique spoons have often been top sellers at auction and on the collectors market. What makes the spoon suitable for absinthe preparation are the special slots of holes they contain. During the preparation of a glass of absinthe, a sugar cube is placed atop one of these specially slotted spoons, and a glass of cold water is poured over the top of the spoon, melting the sugar and relieving the drinker of the notoriously bitter taste of the drink.

The Glass

Two absinthe glasses. Left, Swirl glass. Right Pontarlier reservoir glass Eric Litton

Many antique absinthe glasses, especially those with a long and storied history, have also sold for great sums of money, and for many absinthe connoisseurs the glass itself is a big part of the preparation ritual. The classic absinthe glass is generally between six and seven inches tall, perfect for pouring the perfect glass of this classic green liquid.

The Absinthe Fountain

Absinthe fountain with four taps Autopilot

For those in search of something a little more special and a little unique, there is the absinthe fountain. The absinthe fountain represents perhaps the utmost in the absinthe ritual, and these elegant contraptions were a focal point of absinthe enjoyment in the past. These absinthe fountains were ornate creations of metal and glass, equipped with two to six small spigots. The upper glass part was filled with ice and water, allowing the absinthe drinkers to place their glasses, with the sugar cube in place, under the spigot and allow the water to slowly drip into the glass and melt the sugar. Absinthe fountains are still available from time to time, although the prices tend to be quite high.

The most famous of all absinthe fountains is known as the Absinthe Terminus Bienfaisante, instantly recognizable by the rooster which rests on top of its lid. Other less famous absinthe fountains, when they are available, usually sell for between $1,500 and $8,000.

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