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How to Drink Absinthe

One of the things that are illegal in the United States but acceptable abroad is drinking the Green Fairy. Check out where to get absinthe and how to prepare it at home.

I started ordering drinks at bars when I was 18. Or rather, I did so when I was abroad and the drinking age was much lower.

One of the benefits of traveling is trying something that is illegal in the United States. Depending on how naughty you would like to be while abroad, some options include:

  • Foie gras in France.
  • Pufferfish in Japan.
  • Marijuana in the Netherlands.
  • Ayahuasca in Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador.
  • Prostitution in New Zealand.

Absinthe is a high-alcoholic spirit. While it starts clear, producers add herbs to create the recognizable emerald color. Thus, it is often referred to as the Green Fairy.

The alcoholic content is so high that drinkers need to prepare the beverage with water and sugar to make it palpable. Below is some information about the spirit to keep you safe while traveling and drinking as well as teach you how to enjoy it at home.

Is absinthe illegal in the United States?

Yes and no. Absinthe has a very high alcohol content, between 110 and 144 proof. Additionally, thujone is a toxic chemical component in it that can cause convulsions and may cause hallucinations. The FDA will not allow absinthe with more than 10 milligrams a liter of thujone.

  • No, FDA-approved absinthe is legal in the U.S.
  • Yes, traditional high-content absinth is illegal in the U.S.

How to Drink the Green Fairy

Traditional French Preparation

Ingredients and tools:

  • Absinthe
  • A slotted spoon
  • A glass
  • A cube of sugar
  • Ice water

Pour 1 part absinthe into the glass and place the slotted spoon on top like a lid. Put the sugar cube on the slotted spoon, and slowly and carefully pour 3 to 5 parts ice-cold water over the sugar cube to dissolve into the glass.

Drinking establishments that serve the Green Fairy traditionally may have an absinthe fountain that slowly drips water onto the sugar cube. The French were very patient to create this technique.

Bohemian Method

Ingredients and tools:

  • Absinthe
  • A slotted spoon
  • A glass
  • A cube of sugar
  • Source of fire

Soak the sugar cube in absinthe. Pour 1 part absinthe into the glass and place the slotted spoon on top like a lid. Put the absinthe-soaked sugar cube on the slotted spoon and sets it on fire. Then, tip the spoon so the flaming cube set the drink ablaze. Pour a shot of water to douse the fire.

This is the quickest way to prepare the drink. The drink is also stronger this way and a beautiful show.

Can you drink it straight?

You can take a swig straight from the bottle but I don’t recommend it. The high alcohol content and flavor is so strong that it will take like a shot from death herself.

Where to Get the Green Fairy

The Czech Republic is where true connoisseurs head for absinthe, as it has 100 milligrams of thujone per liter. Likewise, Prague is a good place, but you can also find bottles with lower alcohol by volume (ABV) in:

  • Brazil.
  • Canada.
  • Europe Union countries.
  • New Zealand except in select areas.
  • The United States.

If you are in America, then you can purchase the FDA-approved absinthe from online retailers.

Can absinthe kill you?

Drinking too much alcohol can cause an overdose, which can cause death.

Your body size and tolerance influence how much alcohol you can handle but, generally speaking, you shouldn’t consume more than “one unit” of alcohol an hour. A unit is dependent on the strength of the alcohol.

The alcohol percentage in absinthe is much higher than beer and wine and it can be difficult to calculate the units with strengths varying from 45 to 75 percent ABV. Check out this table specifically for absinthe to measure how much alcohol is in your drink.

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