Two glasses of absinthe with cane sugar and lime on dark background
Food - Drink
Why Sugar Cubes Are Essential When Drinking Absinthe
Absinthe is not often enjoyed neat — it contains 45% to 74% ABV, and is infused with assertive botanicals like wormwood, anise, fennel, coriander, and hyssop. Its strong flavors and potent alcoholic kick make it ideal for complex cocktails, but if you're chasing absinthe on its own, there's a reason why bartenders will add a sugar cube.
When you order an absinthe drip, the bartender will slowly drip ice water into a glass full of the liquor, aiming for a ratio of one part absinthe to three to five parts water. Atop that glass will be a specially designed absinthe spoon that holds a sugar cube, which melts into the absinthe as it's slowly dissolved by the drips of water.
As the chilled water and sugar mixes with the spirit, it turns from clear to cloudy, demonstrating that it's the proper temperature. Your absinthe, properly diluted and sweetened by the sugar cube, will still be powerfully aromatic and flavorful without burning your face and tongue off, but it still needs to be sipped and savored slowly.