Putting A Better Spin On Dinnertime

Everything You Need To Know About Serving Absinthe At Your Bar

Do you own a bar? Are you looking for a product that your customers will love, and that can't be found at every other club, pub, and tavern in town? If so, chalk "absinthe" on your menu, and read on to learn everything you need to know about serving this unique alcoholic drink.

What's So Special About It?

Absinthe is an aromatic spirit concocted from a variety of herbs and flowering plants, including anise and fennel. The most important ingredient in the drink, though, is wormwood. Wormwood is a plant that contains thujone -- a substance credited by many to stimulate shifts in perception, bouts of extreme mental clarity, and increased cognitive awareness and creativity in the human brain.

While modern scientists have attempted to determine the validity and reasoning behind the many accounts of thujone acting as a mind-opening substance, they have had little success. However, the long-standing belief that thujone-containing absinthe creates effects beyond those that can be obtained from alcohol alone resulted in a United States ban on the alcohol that lasted nearly a hundred years.

Is It Legal?

Yes, absinthe was banned in the U.S. in 1912, but was legalized again in 2007. However, there are still some stipulations on its sales. Any absinthe sold in the United States must be thujone-free. 

Don't worry, though; "thujone-free" doesn't mean that the absinthe you serve at your bar can't contain any thujone whatsoever. It simply means that each bottle can contain no more than 10 parts per million of thujone. Does this mean that the absinthe on today's market doesn't provide drinkers with the same effects that the products available before the ban did? Nope, not at all. Only a small amount of thujone has ever been used when preparing absinthe, and many of the bottles from long ago actually contained a lesser ratio of thujone than what is available on the current market.

What Special Equipment Will You Need?

Absinthe is very bitter, and thus requires a special preparation technique to thoroughly incorporate both sugar and water into the spirit. You'll need the following equipment, all of which you should be able to find at a restaurant equipment supplies store.

Absinthe Fountains. These are glass containers that sit on bases with spigots. Each fountain will serve a number of customers up to the number of spigots available on the fountain. You'll want to purchase one fountain for each table you expect to be occupied during peak hours. 

Absinthe Glasses. These glasses are designed to make serving easy. They have wide mouths to lessen instances of spills when preparing. They also have either round reservoirs at their bottoms or etch marks so the server can easily see exactly how much absinthe they should pour into the glass at the start of preparation.

Absinthe Spoons. These spoons are designed with short handles and long bowls so that they may sit securely across the top of absinthe glasses without falling into them. The spoons are usually intricately designed, with several small slots in the bowl to allow for a slow, steady trickle of water and sugar through them.

How Do You Serve It?

Once you have all the equipment, serving absinthe is easy. You'll begin by filling the reservoir in each glass up with absinthe, or pouring in enough of the spirit to reach the etch marks on the glasses. Next, you'll fill the absinthe fountain with ice water. Each glass is placed under a spigot on the fountain, and then an absinthe spoon containing a sugar cube is laid across each glass. 

Once the spigots are opened, the ice water will slowly drip over the sugar cube and blend both the sugar and water in with the absinthe. Once the glass is full, your customers may take their glasses and enjoy the taste of the unique beverage, along with the effects that follow. 

If you want to offer your customers a drink that they can't find at every other bar in town, put absinthe on your drink menu. This once banned adult beverage is now perfectly legal to serve. Furthermore, when you prepare and serve the beverage with the traditional technique and equipment, you offer your customers more than an adult drink -- you offer them a unique experience.