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Absinthe - The Authentic Serve

By Sarah Groves, also posted in News on

How to serve Absinthe

Absinthe serve posterAbsinthe is bottled at a high strength and it is traditionally diluted by the addition of four parts water to one part Absinthe. In bottle, the natural herbal oils remain in suspension, but when mixed with water the oils drop out causing a milky effect called ‘louche’. No sugar is added to Absinthe in its production, so it can be sweetened to taste. Now collector items, ornate holed Absinthe spoons were created which allowed sugar to be dissolved by water when it was poured over the glass. To recreate the authentic serve, we have a small selection of modern Absinthe spoons based on traditional designs available in our Cellar & Kitchen Stores. Adnams Verte Absinthe (50cl, 66% abv, £34.99) Green absinthe gets its colour from the addition of Hyssop and Melissa (lemon balm). Adnams Rouge Absinthe (50cl, 66% abv, £34.99) Ruby-red in colour from the addition of hibiscus flowers. You can read more about the development of Adnams Absinthe here.

Why have Adnams made Absinthe?

Originating as a ‘tonic’ in Switzerland, Absinthe was first popularised during the French revolution (sometime after 1789) steadily growing in celebrity and notoriety. Through various misdeeds and misfortunes (much like the sorry tale of gin in London), it was eventually banned from sale in France in 1915. The ban has since been lifted, but only relatively recently. Adnams’ Head Distiller, John McCarthy is interested in breathing new life into hand-crafted, artisan spirits from across the world. John explains his fascination with this ancient spirit, “I found Absinthe’s shady history really interesting, it’s shrouded in mystery and I love the fact that it was drunk by artists and writers – it became almost an ‘underground movement’ in the creative world.”

Bashing the myths surrounding Absinthe

As a company that has long championed Responsible Drinking, we thought long and hard about how our customers would feel about us recreating an artisan spirit with a shady past. However, we are fully confident in the quality of our spirit. It is made using only the best and purest ingredients, with no artificial colours or preservatives, and when served correctly diluted with water, should be no stronger than a glass of wine. There are two myths surrounding absinthe that it may be helpful to dispel in relation to Adnams' Absinthe. No doubt these myths were facts in the 18th century when production methods for all manner of drinks were unregulated. Myth 1: Absinthe is poisonous One of the fears often associated with Absinthe is that it is poisonous. This myth came about because unscrupulous producers of the late 19th century were adulterating their products with things like copper sulphate to increase the green colour. This is toxic and probably the cause of alleged madness. This was at a time when many products were treated in this way to increase volumes and lower costs. Myth 2: Absinthe is a hallucinogen There is also a view that Absinthe has hallucinogenic properties. This myth has been generated from the fact that Absinthe contains Wormwood – which is an essential ingredient of Absinthe. Without wanting to get too technical, Wormwood contains Thujone, which in significant quantities does have hallucinogenic properties. However, there are actually higher levels of Thujone in sage than there are in Wormwood. The EC requires that Thujone levels must be less than 10 parts per million, Adnams Absinthe has been tested and levels are negligible at less than one part per million. Absinthe is an interesting, highly flavoursome spirit with a long history, and by creating a modern version based on historical research, John McCarthy has crafted a premium, sophisticated spirit. If you have tried our version of Absinthe, we'd love to know what you think. Please let us know in the comments box below.


Sarah Groves