Traditional serving spoon from La Fée
Absinthe spoon are used merely for placing a sugar cube on, this is done so the strong alcohol taste can be softened, the sugar is added just before drinking. Sugar doesn’t dissolve in strong alcohol, hence sugar cubes are placed on an absinthe spoon and chilled water is dripped onto the sugar and then into the absinthe, this starts to dilute and begins the louche (turns cloudy), by adding the chilled water it slowly releases the aroma’s of the absinthe.
The sugared water is used as a flavour enhancer and not used to mask the bitterness of the absinthe, you can tell the difference between a macerated absinthe and a distilled absinthe, the latter has a slightly bitter taste.
The spoons are different shapes, this is due to cutlery manufacturers having their own designs to distinguish them from other companies, absinthe spoons were placed in the same section as the rest of household cutlery.
Before absinthe spoons were used, absinthe was already sweetened, often with Gomme syrup, Orgeat syrup was equally enjoyed, Gomme syrup was used right up until the ban, Gomme syrup is still made today.
Spade shaped spoons with holes, these were mentioned by the Gambault company who specialised in bar equipment, and they included pierced absinthe spoons and spade shaped spoons in their portfolio, also Boulenger sold absinthe spoons and spade shaped spoons with holes, these became highly collectable.
Other catalogues referred to the pierced shovels (Ercius catalogue) Denis Gerard to absinthe shovels and Armand Frenay to flat absinthe spoons.
In the 1911 catalogue from Velentin and Bonjour refer to absinthe spactulas or spoons, we now know that the ritual of the pierced spoon designed for the sugar cube to sit on the spoon could not of happened before 1850 as the sugar cube didn’t exist.
With thanks to Marie Claude-Delahaye of Musée de l’absinthe
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