With a soft clink, a cube of white sugar is placed delicately on the flat surface of the absinthe spoon. Purified water drips from a customary fountain or carafe and slowly dissolves the sugar, which falls through the perforations in the silver spoon and into the absinthe-filled glass below. After a few minutes, the emerald green liquid turns a milky white color. When a drinker takes his first sip, the sugar’s sweetness should perfectly counter the absinthe’s bitterness.
Absinthe is a botanical-based spirit made from wormwood, anise, fennel, and other herbs that vary by distiller. Especially popular among writers and Bohemians in 19th-century Europe, it was once condemned as a dangerous hallucinogen and a causative agent for violent crime and immorality. As a result of this reputation, the drink was banned in many countries. While the spirit went underground, absinthe spoons became coveted antiques, in part due to their novelty and their beautiful designs. Dotted with intricate patterns, the utensils also come in shapes such as leaves and flowers.
After several studies debunked absinthe’s hallucinatory and dangerous potential (it’s no more dangerous than most spirits), several countries have started selling it again. Thanks to this modern revival, antique absinthe spoons have slowly returned to their original use.