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Absinthe & Absinthiana

  Absinthiana are the accoutrements surrounding the alcoholic drink absinthe and its preparation ritual.  Originally, absinthe was served in standard glasses and water was added from a carafe.  As the popularity of drinking absinthe grew in the later half of the 19th century, so did the variety & quality of implements & accoutrements used, such as specialty glasses, spoons, fountains and brouilleurs.

  After decades of being banned in many countries, the European Union countries began to reauthorize the distillation & sale of absinthe in the 1990s.  Since  legalization antique dealers have seen dramatic increases in the prices of these artifacts. Some absinthe spoons can today fetch many thousands of dollars and are highly collectible.  We discuss absinthe collectables on this page ...

European Visitors can order absinthe here

 Many 19th century companies used the elaborate barware to advertise their brands. Today many contemporary distilleries are also producing decorative branded barware for the same purpose.

On this page ...

Absinthe spoon Grilles
Water drip Carafe
Fountain Brouilleur
Absinthe glass Modern absinthiana

 Absinthe spoon

  Absinthe spoons from the 18th and early 19th century are highly collectible.  Since the resurgence of absinthe popularity, antique dealers report that some absinthe spoons are selling for many thousand of dollars.

  A perforated or slotted spoon is used to dissolve a sugar cube in a glass of absinthe, usually to sweeten the drink and counteract its mild bitterness.
 The bowl of the spoon is normally flat, with a notch in the handle where it rests on the rim of the glass.
 The absinthe spoon shown can be purchased from Amazon by clicking on the photo of the absinthe spoon.

 Originating circa the 1860s, absinthe spoons were often stamped with brand names or logos as advertising, much like modern alcohol paraphernalia. Sometimes they were sold as tourist items; for example, some might be shaped like the Eiffel tower, for example the spoon Eiffel Tower #7, which was made for the inauguration of the building in the year 1889.

 "Les Cuilleres" absinthe spoon (literally "spoons" in French)

"Les Cuilleres" absinthe spoons, a rarer variation of the absinthe spoon, are similar to iced tea spoons.  Les Cuilleres have a regular shaped spoon bowl and a sugar cube holder is built into the handle. 

 Absinthe Grilles
  Grilles were typically used in France as an alternative to the absinthe spoon.  The absinthe grille is a perforated metal saucer with three or more legs that hold the sugar cube above the absinthe glass.

 Water drip
  Adding ice cold water to absinthe is often considered an art form and bars often had "professors of absinthe" who would show new drinkers how to properly add water one drop at a time.

  A water carafe is the most basic way to add water. As with other items, many have been found with brand names on them. The carafe is held high above the glass and water is delicately added, drop by drop.

 Absinthe Fountain
  Purpose-made absinthe fountains appeared in bars and cafes as absinthe gained popularity during the later half of the 18th century.

 Often a glass container suspended above the table held between two and six spigots - small faucets. It allowed a small party of drinkers to prepare their absinthe all at once with a slow drip of cold water but did not require the painstaking concentration required by a carafe.
  The classic absinthe ritual calls for preparing the drink with a perforated absinthe spoon, sugar cube and absinth fountain. Cold water dispensed from your glass absinthe fountain runs slowly over the sugar cube and drips the sugar water into the glass to dilute the alcohol-rich liquor and prompt the release of the essential oils and herbs that absinthe is known for. This good-looking fountain is designed to keep the water cold and to dole it out at the perfect pace, so your absinthe drink is ideal - every time. Easily remove the lid, add your ice water and you're on your way to an incredible absinthe experience.

The absinthe fountain set shown can be purchased from Amazon by clicking on the photo of the Absinthe fountain.

 Absinthe Brouilleur
  The absinthe brouilleur or 'dripper' is a glass (often blown glass) or metal bowl which sits on top of the absinthe glass and acts like a single fountain.  Ice and water are added to the bowl, which slowly drips through a small hole at the bottom.  Sugar can be added directly to the bowl, or in some cases to a built-in grille.

 Absinthe glass
  Absinthe was originally served in normal bar-ware, but eventually purpose-made absinthe glasses became popular.

 Glasses were marked with a dose line, by either etching or a glass band, to indicate how much absinthe should be poured into them. The term 'reservoir glass' covers several styles of glassware with a small bulge at the bottom which marked the nip.
 The absinthe glass & spoon set shown can be purchased from Amazon by clicking on the photo of the Absinthe glass.

   The 'bubble-reservoir' glass is rarer and has a defined bubble shaped reservoir.

 Modern absinthiana
  As absinthe has reemerged on the market so has the paraphernalia associated with it.  Several companies produce replica absinthiana and others have modernized the traditional designs.  Whereas absinthe bar-ware of the 19th century was primarily used as inexpensive promotional items, the modern versions are often cast of silver, or elaborately manufactured to jewelry quality.
 If purchasing modern absinthiana with the view of it becoming collectible, go for quality and individual pieces, and purchase items that you like.  Look for Virginia-based artist Kirk Burkett's absinthe silver-ware and the Obsello absinthe spoon.

Absinthe Spoon

Absinthe - European Absinthe website


Absinthe quotes:

After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, which is the most horrible thing in the world.
~Oscar Wilde

Let me be mad .. mad with madness of Absinthe, the wildest most luxurious madness in the world.
~Marie Corelli

Absinthe is the aphrodisiac of the self. The green fairy who lives in the Absinthe wants your soul.
~Dracula by Bram Stoker

The first month of marriage is the honeymoon, the second is the absinthe-moon.

What is there in absinthe that makes it a separate cult? ... Even in ruin and in degradation it remains a thing apart: its victims wear a ghastly aureole all their own, and in their peculiar hell yet gloat with a sinister perversion of pride that they are not as other men. ~Aleister Crowley

There is only one absinthe drinker, and that's the man who painted this idiotic picture.
~Thomas Couture

I understand that absinthe makes the tart grow fonder.
~Ernest Dowson

I took a bottle of pills. I'd been in Europe and I had a lot of absinthe and I was just drinking and drinking, trying to, you know, just shut my body down.
~Jack Osbourne



Absinthe Resources:


Absinthe - See things differently

Wine by Style:
A Practical Guide to Choosing Wine by Flavor, Weight and Colour

Fiona Beckett

Best Wines!
The Gold Medal Winners 1999

Gail Bradney

Italian Wines 1999:
A Guide to the World of Italian Wine

Gambero Rosso

Classic Bourbon, Tennessee and Rye Whiskey
Jim Murray

Introduction to Object ID: Guidelines for Making Records That Describe Art, Antiques, and Antiquities
by Robin Thornes

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