I recently tried two Czech absinthes and noticed that they louched...that is turned a milky opal white when chilled water was added. According to http://czechabsinthe.wordpress.com there is a Bohemian way of drinking absinthe and a traditional way. The Bohemian way is based upon the use of fire to melt a sugar cube held on a absinthe spoon; the caremalised sugar drips into the drink...tasty. The traditional absinthe drinking ritual is by adding water - sometimes from an absinthe fountain - and letting the drink louche as it releases the herbal oils suspended in the alcohol. This is all quite theatrical and part of the fun of drinking the green fairy.
Any experiences with these two absinthe rituals?
I have had a number of Czech, German, Swiss and French absinthes, most of whom I acquire through Alandia.
My favorite, however, is from Switzerland -- their Clandestine La Bleue.
I love the ritual and always burn my sugar cubes. Adding water is a must...
I've had it both ways... I'm not sure that it's theatrical so much as necessary to make it drinkable... Incidentally, the same can be done with anis (ouzo, anisette, chinchón, etc.) and other herbal types of herbal "fire water".
I agree Butterfly - you cannot drink absinthe neat! The ritual of absinthe drinking is fun though...fire or water with that Sir? I think it depends on your mood :-)
I was in Prague a few years ago and decided to try Absinthe for the first time. The bartender poured the absinthe into a glass, filled a teaspoon full of sugar and dipped some of it into the liquor. He then lit the spoon on fire and waited for the sugar to bubble a bit and turn light brown. At this point the whole spoon was dropped into the glass and stirred. I don't really know how to describe the taste other than gasoline mixed with listorine. There was an herbal characteristic to it, but it also caused my throat to close shut. This stuff was potent. You would think that would be enough to make me stop, but I had a second glass. We had met some women and were partying hard that night. Needless to say, I was a drunk dance machine and most of the night is a blur. I had a great time though.
You young folks (please correct me if I'm wrong there) understand clearly (don't you?) that this burning sugar cube thing is a very recent fad -- from some movie, isn't it? -- unrelated to absinthe traditions. Even those recent absinthe connoissuers I mentioned in the posting below point this out. Tradition example: Raymond Chandler, in "Mandarin's Jade," about 1939, I'm quoting from the original: "It was the kind of room where people sit on floor cushions with their feet on their laps and sip absinthe through lumps of sugar ..." They didn't start playing with matches until very recently. Background info below.
I don't really know if it's new or not. I've read some history on the drink in the past and found that sugar cubes are typically placed on a special spoon and water is poured over it to disolve the sugar into the drink. The burning of the sugar in Prague seemed kind of showy, but that's how this particular bar served the drink. In any case, I was pretty smashed after two (and several beers). Did not care for the taste, so I don't think it's something I'd seek out again, but never say never.