Absinthe is an aperitif (a flavorful alcoholic drink usually served prior to a meal) with a strong taste of licorice (anise) flavor and a high alcohol content. Absinthe is an extract derived from the “Holy Trinity” of anise, fennel, and wormwood. Absinthe is somewhat bitter, and best served with three (3) parts water and a sugar cube. Not only will this blend cut the bitter taste and dilute the alcohol by volume in your glass, but the dreamy, milky louche will enchant you and whomever else you pour for.
There are two distinct styles of absinthe, the French / Swiss style, and the Czech or Bohemian style. French or Swiss is often used as a sign that the absinthe is a legitimate heir to the original Swiss recipe formulated in the late 1700’s. On the other hand, when an absinthe is referred to as Czech or Bohemian, or when it is called “absinth” (without the e), it is often a negative term. What it comes down to is a claim for authenticity.
The modern absinthe recipe comes from Switzerland, and was then popularized and mass-produced in France. Throughout the 1800’s absinthe was wildly popular in the cafés of Prague and other cities in the Czech Republic, but the drinks were imported from France and Switzerland. Czech absinth sold today is an artificial product, and is far more bitter tasting than the French recipe. Due to the lack of natural herbs and fruit extracts, the Czech absinth does not louche as the French recipe does. These are the easiest ways to identify a Czech, Bohemian, or any other kind of “knock-off” absinthe. Absinthes that do not louche contain little to no anise, an essential ingredient to the production of absinthe.
We especially encourage new absinthe drinkers to enjoy an absinthe derived from the original Swiss recipe. There are many absinthe producers in the United States and Canada who adhere to the natural Swiss recipe, and an authentic absinthe just can’t be beat.
When drinking Czech, stick to their famous beers and other spirits, such as bitters. When drinking absinthe, drink the recipe that made it legendary.