By S. B. MacDonald
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Additional resources for Absinthe Antiques: A Collection from la Belle Epoque
Made of thick glass, this brouilleur features one hole, which delivers a fine stream of water into the absinthe below. Sugar may be placed inside before adding the water. Glass brouilleurs from the 19th century are very hard to find in this condition. This silver-plated brass brouilleur advertising Absinthe Terminus works well with all glasses due to its stepped and tapered design. There are tiny holes in the bottom recess, which is shaped to hold the rectangular sugar of the era. Four small drops rain down gently into the absinthe, creating a wonderful display as the louche forms.
Four small drops rain down gently into the absinthe, creating a wonderful display as the louche forms. Fountains were often used by larger establishments as a method of dispensing water to multiple glasses simultaneously. This stylish Art Deco fountain made by JR, dates from the 1920s-1930s. Due to the the void left by absinthe’s banning, fountains such as these were produced to be used in bistrots with absinthe substitutes such as anis, and later, pastis, created in 1932. Pre-ban fountains are extremely rare and valuable.
The first drops of water cause smoke-like effects as water reacts with the absinthe. These turn to rolling clouds of fog, eventually blending into the final stage, as seen on the previous page. Different absinthes have louches with varying speed of development, thickness, layering and color. The most important factor when judging a louche is the final result’s attractiveness and opalescence. Carafes were commonly used to add water to absinthe in bistrots. Customers would have one at their table, pouring as needed.