Why should I pour the water slowly into a glass of absinthe?

Decanters, brouilles and absinthe fountains were invented for one particular purpose: to enable you to pour the water into your absinthe glass as gently as possible – ideally, drop by drop – especially at the begining, when the absinthe starts to louche. There are two main reasons for pouring the water carefully:

1. The louche is even more beautiful.

2. The different aromas of your absinthe develop more slowly, and can become much more complex and interesting. (Chemistry helps to understand this phenomenon: each essential oil precipitates at a different dilution, and pouring the water slowly enables the aromas to develop one after the other).

However, it is all about louching your absinthe without “drowning” it by letting the water flow as slowly as you should savour your drink.

Marcel Pagnol illustrated this in his novel “Le temps des secrets” – 1960 (The time of secrets):

“The poet’s eyes suddenly gleamed.

Then, in deep silence, began a kind of ceremony. He set the glass – a very big one – before him, after inspecting its cleanliness. Then he took the bottle, uncorked it, sniffed it, and poured out an amber coloured liquid with green glints to it. He seemed to measure the dose with suspicious attention for, after a careful check and some reflection, he added a few drops.

He next took up from the tray a kind of small silver shovel, long and narrow, in which patterned perforations had been cut.

He placed this contrivance on the rim of the glass like a bridge, and loaded it with two lumps of sugar. Then he turned towards his wife: she was already holding the handle of a ‘guggler’, that is to say a porous earthenware pitcher in the shape of a cock, and he said: ‘Your turn, my Infanta!’

Placing one hand on her hip with a graceful curve of her arm, the Infanta lifted the pitcher rather high, then, with infallible skill, she let a very thin jet of cool water – that came out of the fowls beak – fall on to the lumps of sugar which slowly began to disintegrate.

The poet, his chin almost touching the table between his two hands placed flat on it, was watching this operation very closely. The pouring Infanta was as motionless as a fountain, and Isabelle did not breathe. In the liquid, whose level was slowly rising, I could see a milky mist forming in swirls which eventually joined up, while a pungent smell of aniseed deliciously refreshed my nostrils.

Twice over, by raising his hand, the master of ceremonies interrupted the fall of the liquid, which he doubtless considered too brutal or too abundant: after examining the beverage with an uneasy manner that gave way to reassurance he signalled, by a mere look, for the operation to be resumed.

Suddenly he quivered and, with an imperative gesture, definitely stopped the flow of water, as if a single drop more might have instantly degraded the sacred potion.”

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As you may have noticed, the preparation of absinthe is an art! Feel free to learn more about the background of the absinthe ritual, and lots of helpful historic information:
Absinthe with or without sugar? An explanation

View our selection of absinthe spoons!

The different ways of preparing a glass of absinthe

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