The drinking ritual

When you drink an absinthe from these parts, you need to use your five senses. Your hearing first, as you pour the water. Hold the carafe of water up high and let the water flow with great care, with restraint even. A thin trickle like the sighing of a wave on the strand or the murmur of a spring. Take your time, people in a hurry spoil their absinthe beyond redemption.

Next, take a look at it. As the water comes into contact with the absinthe and clouds it, just like in a beautiful love story, opal-coloured spirals form and gradually rise to the surface in long golden curls. Feast your eyes on this spectacle, knowing that the average drinker, the ordinary drinker, fails to linger over it.

As for the smell, this is the easy bit. It literally explodes, so that your neighbours who you haven't mentioned it to, will come running asking: "How did you get hold of some?" The fragrance of anise and absinthe spread throughout the house, and even down the street, conjuring up by turns the maquis of Provence, the pastures of the Jura uplands and mysterious forests where fairies are born.

As for the taste, it's this that distinguishes the real expert, someone who can tell the difference between genuine Val-de-Travers absinthe and other pale substitutes. A real absinthe explodes on your palate like a firework, gradually revealing its flavours of anise, fennel and mint. And the slightly bitter taste that stays in the mouth comes from the inimitable and essential ingredients of common and Roman wormwood.

Finally, there's the pleasure of touch as you turn the glass in your hand. This is when you start telling absinthe stories to your friends because, as you've noticed, you can drink any wine or other alcohol without feeling the need to speak about it, but in front of a glass of absinthe the legends of fairies inevitably arise...

 

Pierre-André Delachaux Lettres à un amateur d’absinthe 2002