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Water dripping onto a sugar cube set on a slotted spoon set on top of an absinthe glass.

How to Drink Absinthe [Proper Ritual]

Grab an absinthe spoon, a sugar cube, and well, a little absinthe! Here's how to serve the face-twisting spirit in an authentic fashion. And safely light it on fire, if that's what you're after.

  • Total Time: 7 minutes
  • Yield: 1 Absinthe Cocktail 1x


  • 1 ounce of absinthe
  • 1 to 2 sugar cubes
  • 3 to 5 ounces of ice-cold water


  • Absinthe spoon, slotted silver/metal spoon, or mesh strainer
  • Traditional absinthe glass or rocks glass


Traditional Absinthe Ritual

  1. Measure the absinthe into the glass. Measure the absinthe into your glass. If you have traditional absinthe glass, simply fill the reservoir at the bottom with absinthe. 
  2. Set up the sugar cube. Set a slotted spoon over the glass and place one or two sugar cubes on top.
  3. Create the signature louche with a water drip. Fill a measuring glass or small pitcher with ice-cold water. Then slowly trickle it over the sugar cube until you add between three and five ounces of water to the glass. As you drizzle the louche will form (meaning the absinthe will turn cloudy). 
  4. Rest the cocktail and tip in the remaining sugar. Let the cloudy cocktail rest for a few moments to allow the herbal aromas to bloom. If the water didn't fully dissolve all of the sugar, tip it into the glass and stir to dissolve it. Enjoy carefully!

Flaming Absinthe

  1. Set up your fire station. Choose a sturdy glass and measure a serving of absinthe into it. Set an absinthe spoon or flat metal (heatproof) slotted spoon on top of it.
  2. Soak or dip the sugar cube in the absinthe. Briefly dip the sugar cube in the absinthe or drizzle a bit of the spirit on the cube. Then place the soaked sugar cube in the center of the spoon.
  3. Carefully add fire. I recommend a lighter with a long-reach barrel as opposed to a shorter lighter or match.
  4. Slowly drip the water over the cube. Once the flame subsides, slowly drip cold water over the cube so it trickles into the glass. Let the cocktail rest for a few minutes, and stir in any sugar that didn't dissolve. 


Sommelier's Tips

  • The louche, or cloudiness that forms when you drizzle in the water, is the essence of the proper absinthe ritual. Go as slowly as possible when drizzling the water. And if the absinthe doesn't become cloudy, the bottle was not true absinthe. 
  • Unless you're hell-bent on a flaming cocktail, enjoy absinthe in true traditional fashion. A nice slow drip of frigid water and a couple of sugar cubes make the green fairy happy. 

On Equipment

You can order absinthe glasses and spoons from online retailers. A rocks glass or stemmed cocktail or beer glass makes a great substitution for a traditional absinthe glass. 

  • Author: Chef Christina
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Drinks
  • Method: Mixology
  • Cuisine: French
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: how to drink absinthe, absinthe cocktail, setting absinthe on fire