Spirit of the night


There is a correct way to drink absinthe, and it has a certain sense of theatre. On a quiet afternoon at Barcelona’s Bar Marsella the landlord José Lamiel Vallvé is demonstrating the time-honoured tradition. For this he requires: one glass of neat absinthe, a short silver fork, a pair of sugar cubes and a plastic bottle of water with – and this is the important part – a pin prick in the lid of the bottle. First, José balances the fork on the top of the glass of absinthe and places the sugar cubes into the cradle. Then, taking the water bottle, he squeezes a narrow jet very slowly over the sugar cubes. Keeping my eyes on the yellowy-green liquid, I see the magic start to happen. Ghostly tendrils appear, filling the glass until the liquid has become a misty emulsion. This is known, appropriately, as the ‘louche effect’.

Originally published in Lonely Planet Traveller, August 2018. Continue reading at Lonely Planet.