How do you chase the green fairy while in Prague? By sipping absinthe at a hole in the wall bar of course! It’s not only a quintessential Bohemian experience… But also quite the spectacle to behold 🔥
First some history…
Absinthe an anise or liquorice flavoured liquor, first originated in Switzerland in the late 18th century. Although it didn’t really gain popularity until the late 19th and early 20th century. And what was the reason for this spike in popularity?
Well a large amount of writers and artists enjoyed absinthe as their tipple of choice! To name some – Edgar Allan Poe, Alisteir Crowley, Ernst Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and probably the most well known fan of all… Vincent Van Gogh.
By the 21st century absinthe was being produced in a dozen European countries. The most notable outside of Switzerland being France, Germany and Czech Republic.
Over the centuries absinthe has gained quite a notorious reputation. Many believe the drink is hallucinogenic and drinking too much of it, will make you crazy a’la Van Gogh.
Although this simply isn’t the case. Absinthe doesn’t contain drugs or poison. So unfortunately won’t make you hallucinate or “trip.” However it is a very strong alcohol and will no doubt make you very intoxicated haha. The nickname of “the Green Fairy” simply comes from the fact it is green and the English translation of La Fee Verte.
So how best to enjoy it? Well absinthe can be enjoyed in cocktails or on it’s own. But when having absinthe on it’s own there is a bit of a “ritual” to follow…
Traditional Absinthe Ritual
To enjoy absinthe the classic French way you will need –
Your favourite absinthe
Ice cold water
Traditionally a Pontalier glass is used as there is a “well” at the bottom. This a great indicator as to how much absinthe is needed. But if you don’t have a Pontalier glass just use the ratio of 1:3 – So 30 ml of absinthe to 90 mls of water.
Pour 30ml shot of absinthe into your glass.
Place perforated spoon over glass with one sugar cube.
Then carefully slowly pour ice cold water over the sugar cube.
The water and absinthe will combine to form the louche.
Louche means opaque in french. Which is a good way to describe the milky reaction that happens between the absinthe and water.
Sit back and enjoy! This ritual is nice and simple and can be enjoyed at home. But when in Prague you must try the….
Czech or “Neue Bohemian” pour
This pour is much the same as the traditional absinthe ritual but it includes fire 🔥
Which in my opinion makes it way better haha.
This pour requires both a glass and metal cup. Before placing your sugar cube on the spoon, you dip it in the absinthe. Keep in mind that absinthe has an extremely high alcohol content! Anywhere between 45 – 74% and is highly flammable.
Extra care is needed when lighting the sugar cube. Once lit, let the sugar caramelize under the flame. Then slowly pour the flaming liquid into the glass.
When you’ve had enough fire, begin to slowly pour in the ice cold water. This will then extinguish the flame.
As your drink was just on fire you may need to wait a little bit before you can enjoy. But I found even the fumes made me giddy. When it came time to drink, let’s just say it left us ready to party the night away 💃🏼
Although you probably won’t see a “green fairy” from drinking absinthe in Prague… Maybe if you drink enough you will think you did 🧚🏻♂️😜🧚🏼♀️ And it sure is a fun thing to try while bar hopping around Old Town!
For another cool thing to do in Prague, check out the Sedlec Ossuary