Crazy about absinthe?

19th September, 2012 by Becky Paskin
Pernod Absinthe Fountain

Pernod Ricard is just one of the absinthe producers working toward reeducating the public about the perfect serve

“People enter the category thinking it’s fun, but it doesn’t deliver on its promises: they get too drunk and swear never to touch it again,” says Alan Moss, commercial director at Artemisia. “Exactly the same thing happened to Tequila 20 years ago when everybody was abusing the drink by doing the salt and lemon ritual. Now people have moved onto the higher quality, 100% blue agave Tequilas and are appreciating the taste more. The same thing is happening with absinthe, albeit on a shorter timescale.”

With a return to classic cocktails and speakeasy bars trending in countries like the UK, US and Australia, absinthe is expected to grow to 199,000 cases by 2016. Ironically, France, the breeding ground for absinthe in the 19th century, is not expected to play a part in absinthe’s rebirth due to the overwhelming popularity of pastis, which became the drink of choice following the ban of drinks labelled as absinthe in 1915.

Emerging markets showing an increased interest in absinthe include India, Japan, South-East Asia, Eastern Europe and even parts of the Middle East, and producers are also starting to make inroads into South America, although the continent has a cap on alcoholic content at 54% abv.

Growth in terms of volume remains at a slow recovery pace, but the green fairy seems to be flying out to all corners of the globe. However, the general consensus – from all brand owners – is that education is key not only to the category’s growth, but to its survival too.

“Education will help the category,” says Peter Fuss, general manager of German distributon firm LogisticX. “We started trying to educate people last year because we are concerned that people do not understand the difference between absinthes. If people understand that different regions in Europe produce different styles of absinthe, they will be interested and find that absinthe is right for them. But it’s all down to education, particularly of bartenders.”

If the category has its own way, every suitable bar would stock at least three or four absinthes, with the spirit being a feature ingredient in at least two cocktails. Bartenders would know the difference between each style and the best way to serve each one, whether through a fountain, a sugar cube, pouring straight on ice, or as a long drink.

The notion is that if bartenders are sold on the spirit, they can pass that passion onto the consumer through recommendation. It all seems too easy, but while brand owners are actively educating bartenders in their target countries, the collective message communicated is somewhat jumbled, with each brand doing its own thing.

3 Responses to “Crazy about absinthe?”

  1. Seth Pylad says:

    Since when is or was Sweden not a European country?
    I know we’re a little “off-side” here in the cold north but, however – Absinthe was never legally banned here either. Due to the state monopoly of the sale of alcohol in Sweden the outcome was in fact about the same though. Absinthe couldn’t be bought here but it was never forbidden.

    Nowadays everything is quite alright again.

  2. Lucius Green says:

    Pernod Ricard does not make absinthe and is hardly a good source of information. There are fine absinthes on the market and there is good information as well at places like, feeverte

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