Brooke Schoenman recently wrote about our group experience drinking absinthe at Absinthesalon in Surry Hills for BBC Travel. It was an outing a bunch of us had been trying to plan for a while, and I was excited we were finally able to get a booking early one Friday night.
But I’ll admit, I was kind of scared.
Lots of rumors circulate about the strong alcohol. Most are related to imposter absinthe drinks and claims that you will hallucinate if you consume it. Even though the folks at Absinthesalon force you to slowly sip your potion, I still prepared myself to see images of green goblins dancing in my field of vision.
To my delight, I learned the anise-flavored alcohol is actually pretty palatable if consumed correctly. Our server guided us through the steps to having an enjoyable first time drinking absinthe.
Step 1: Choose one with a low alcohol by volume first
At Absinthesalon, you receive as your menu a chart displaying the way each absinthe type looks and how much alcohol it contains. Our server suggested we pick one of the options at the top of the front page to ease ourselves into the process. This is still a tall order, as the alcohol by volume starts at 45 percent.
Step 2: Add a spoonful of sugar
Our server instructed us to put a sugar cube on a slotted silver spoon resting atop our stemmed glasses. You then drip water over the sugar and let the mix filter through until the absinthe turns a cloudy color. The process basically helps dilute the straight-up absinthe so you can drink it without it overpowering your palette and getting you drunk quickly.
Step 3: Sip it gingerly
The seatings at Absinthesalon last two hours, and for good reason. Absinthe is not a drink you can skull, and the establishment caps guests at three servings. Each of our party of five had two servings of absinthe, and it actually took us more than two hours to finish them.
Step 4: Go stronger on the second try
Our server encouraged us to try an absinthe with a higher alcohol by volume on the second go. Though the first one had gone down well, I kept my second glass in the 60-percent range (you can go up to 74 percent).
Have you ever tried absinthe? If not, what’s the strongest alcohol you’ve ever had? I know you must have some good stories.