Absinthe fountains again are becoming a popular, must have for every true absintheur and novice alike. After nearly 100 years, this piece of Belle Epoque tradition, history and absinthiana is making its Grand Appearance for the second time in history.
Most connoisseurs of the Green Fairy say a fountain is the only true way to mix absinthe and make the perfect louche. They say the real personality of the “Green Fairy” cannot be enjoyed without this essential piece of the absinthe preparation ritual. For those of you who have been lucky enough to use one, you will likely agree. This centerpiece of your Absinthe set is not only a beautiful decoration, but the absinthe fountain is also the most important tool to perfectly perform the louching ritual.
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So how do they get all of those herbs to hide inside the absinthe? Traditionally, Absinthe is characterized as a re-distillation of botanicals liquified into a spirit. The botanicals include green anise (P. anisum), grande wormwood (A. absinthium) and sweet fennel (F. vulgare). The extraction is combined with a mixture of selected culinary and medicinal spices and plants which provide another layer of aroma and flavor along with its signature chlorophyllic green tint. This method, as indicated by historical distillation guides, is known as the Suisse Method which is the most noble and original way to craft a true premium absinthe. Including the most acclaimed original brands, the majority of the 19th century absinthes were crafted using the Suisse method. A minimum of 95% of the world’s absinthe produced during the 19th century came form France and Switzerland. Most of it was of the verte (green) variety and was bottled with a potency of 60-72% ABV.
Like everything else you buy, you get what you pay for. Absinthe fountains are no exception. If you see an absinthe fountain at a price that seems too good to be true, it probably is. You can save a lot of time and trouble by avoiding Ebay and Amazon when shopping for absinthe ware. They both have become saturated with low quality products and knock-offs.
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The proper addition of water to absinthe can not be over-stressed. You can certainly add water to your drink by using a carafe and many people do. This method works best for mixing just a few drinks. If you have many drinks to mix such as in an event situation, to get the complete flavor for all guests, you really need an absinthe fountain. This is because absinthe requires a very high alcohol concentration to keep all of the herbs and botanicals used in its production suspended in solution. You could say that the herbs are "hidden" or "locked away" inside the undiluted liquor. As the water is added, the alcohol concentration slowly falls and the herbal oils start to precipitate out of the solution forming the louche. While this happens, the beautiful aromas of the botanicals are released allowing you to enjoy there fragrance. Enjoying the scent of the herbs is an important part of the absinthe ritual. The rate at which you add the water will change the taste and fragrance of the drink drastically. A fast dripped absinthe will taste different than a slow dripped absinthe. The best method to prepare an absinthe is with a very slow drip using the purest, coldest water you can find. Avoid tap water (especially chlorinated).
Absinthe fountains serve the purpose of adding water to your drink at a slow rate allowing the proper formation of the louche. This is because adding ice cold water to your absinthe using the slowest drip possible will produce a better tasting drink each and every time.
Your absinthe fountain set will always be the center of attention and meeting place at any party or event. When not in use, your Fountain Set is a beautiful decorative piece that can be displayed in any home. The fountains of today are often replicas of fountains from the original "Belle Epoque" when absinthe was at the height if its popularity. Above are some pictures of modern reproductions.