The tick-tock sound means it’s time for absinthe!

There’s more than one way to louche an absinthe, and one of the more novel and entertaining ways devised in the 19th century was via an “auto verseur” brouillieur. A brouillieur (also known as a “dripper”) does exactly what it sounds like – it drips water droplets into the absinthe. In a way, absinthe is simply a liquor concentrate, designed and distilled specifically to be reconstituted with water. Exactly how much water is used to dilute the liquor depends partly on how high the proof is, and partly on personal taste. In general, a 4:1 ratio is a good estimate to begin with. Adding the water slowly produces an intriguing cloudy louche as the essential oils are released, but how that water is slowly combined with the absinthe is open to your imagination and preference. A thin stream poured from a carafe was the most common way to louche a glass of absinthe in the 19th century, while glass brouillieurs (essentially small bowls with a tiny hole in the bottom for water to drip through) might also be fitted on top of a glass of absinthe for water to drip through.

In the mid 19th century, one particular absinthe brand named Cusenier came up with the “auto verseur” (colloquially referred to as a “see-saw” brouillieur) for dripping water into absinthe which was both fun to watch and listen to. The brouilleur is balanced on a glass via the four glass feet which hold it in place, and as the water dripped through the bottom of the metal funnel-shaped bowl, it fell onto a small metal piece below which alternately swung up and down as a result of the water droplets striking it and rolling down the side. Here is a picture of a modern 21st century reproduction of the auto verseur placed on top of an antique Lyonnais absinthe glass (similar to a Pontarlier-style glass, but with a reservoir of a different shape) from the late 19th century.

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