The different ways of preparing a glass of absinthe

Here are the different ways of preparing an absinthe glass using antique – or modern – accoutrements:

1 – Carafes and Pitchers

Of course, the use of a carafe filled with ice-cold water was the most common and the very first known method for preparing an absinthe glass back in the 19th century; there are dozens of period photos and sketches showing this.

Pitchers were less widely used, especially in bustling bistros and cafés because of their fragility. Having said that, we have found numerous types of pitchers which were dedicated to the absinthe ritual and advertised as such in 1900’s catalogues.

The most known are the zoomorphic stoneware pitchers in the shape of an animal such as a dog, a wolf, a monkey, a lion, a horse, a marabou, a grasshopper, a duck or even a pig.

Less known are the barbotine (ceramic slip) pitchers with men heads. You can see a beautiful example of one of them on Absinthe Originals.

2 – Brouilleurs (or Drippers)

According to some historians, brouilleurs predate absinthe spoons; they apparently appeared in the middle of the 19th century.

The use of a brouilleur make life easier, it does all the job by itself! You place it on top of your absinthe glass, fill it with sugar, ice and water, and all you have to do is watch the drip louche your absinthe.

Two types of brouilleurs were commonly used during the Belle Époque: the metallic ones and the glass ones.

The metallic brouilleurs had one, three, four, or even six holes, delivering a very enjoyable water drip over the absinthe glass.

As opposed to Tarragona (Spain) glass brouilleurs, 19th century French glass brouilleurs are very hard to come by; it seems that they hardly survived the 20th century.

Do you know the difference between a 19th century French glass brouilleur and a Spanish glass brouilleur from the 20th century?

They are quite easy to differentiate: The French one is thick and flat underneath whereas the Spanish one is thin and drop-shaped.

Yes, I know, I’m a fantastic drawer!

3 – Absinthe spoons

No need to write on absinthe spoons again, I had written a little topic on them back in April.

4 – Water fountains

Just like a brouilleur, a water fountain (wrongly called absinthe fountain) does all the job for you, but also for your friends, as most of the time it is equipped with two, four, or even six taps.

Antique fountains are very desirable and very coveted, they are among the most beautiful and impressive items especially made for the absinthe ritual, but also the most fragile, that’s why only a few survived and are now very expensive.The most affordable ones (from 400 Euros up to 800 Euros depending on its condition) are the post-ban pastis fountains. Because of the success of the absinthe ritual during the heydays, some accoutrements have continued to be used after the absinthe ban in 1915, including spoons and fountains which were still used with absinthe substitutes until the 40’s.

But there are other – though less popular – methods for preparing an absinthe glass, including the one shown below  ;–)

– Some people are annoyed by rain; I find it enjoyable to see my little verte preparing itself, and at least I’m sure it’s not water from the Seine river, with all its germs!
(from Marie-Claude Delahaye’s “L’Absinthe – Ses dessinateurs de presse”)

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