Absinthiana

Absinthiana

Absinthiana are the accoutrements surrounding the drink absinthe and its preparation ritual. Originally, absinthe was served in standard glasses and water was added from a simple carafe. But as its popularity grew so did the variety of implements used, such as specialty glasses and complex brouilleurs. In the period since absinthe's legalization antique dealers have seen dramatic increases in the prices of these artifacts. Some absinthe spoons can fetch thousands of dollars .

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.

Absinthe spoon

A perforated or slotted spoon was 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. 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" spoons, a less-common variation of the absinthe spoon, are similar to iced tea spoons. By contrast, these have a normal spoon bowl and the sugar holder built into the handle.

Grilles

Another sugar tool, the grille, lacks the overall spoon shape. Rather, it is generally a perforated metal saucer with 3 or more legs that hold it above the glass.

Water drip

Adding ice cold water to absinthe is a common part of preparation. It was sometimes 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.

Carafe

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.

Fountain

Fountains appeared in bars and bistros as absinthe gained popularity. Often a large glass container suspended above the table held between two and six spigots. It allowed a small party of drinkers to accurately prepare their absinthe all at once with a slow drip of cold water but did not require the painstaking concentration required by a carafe.

Brouilleur

In some instances a device called a brouilleur was employed. A Brouilleur is a glass or metal bowl which sits on the absinthe glass and acts like a personal absinthe fountain. Ice and water are added to the bowl, which has a small hole at the bottom, and ice-cold water slowly drips through. Sugar can be added directly to the bowl, or in some cases to a built-in grille.

Absinthe glass

Absinthe was commonly served in normal bar-ware, but eventually specific glasses were popularized. These would commonly have a short thick stem and faceting to enhance the absinthe's appearance. Glasses were marked with a dose line, by either etching or a glass band, showing 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 dose. They were the first type of glass made specifically for absinthe. A less common variation, called the bubble-reservoir glass, contained 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 several have modernized the traditional designs. Whereas absinthe barware 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. Notable examples of this include Kirk Burkett's silver absinthe ware, the Obsello absinthe spoon, and the unique Absinthe Superiour grille shown in the section.

References

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