Bar Nightjar is London’s top destination speakeasy cocktail bar for absinthe lovers, having a dedicated absinthe tasting menu alongside its world renowned cocktail list. Nightjar’s founder Edmund Weil graciously consented to allow Enigma absinthe to run a photo shoot featuring the brand along side of some very rare 19th century absinthe antique collectables such as absinthe spoons and glasses.
These came in many shapes and sizes and of various weights and qualities, after all absinthe was drunk in all establishments from the corner bar to the most exclusive clubs. Absinthe was served diluted with around 5 parts of water, so the glass had to be large enough to hold at least six fluid ounces of liquid. Most glasses had some kind of mark for measuring the ‘dose’ of absinthe – this was usually an etched line around the bottom of the glass, or an actual reservoir blown into the base of the glass. The only glasses that were made solely for absinthe drinking were the rare and beautiful reservoir glasses of which the ‘Pontarlier’ glass is the most prized version.
These were an essential part of the absinthe ritual, which arose because absinthe is unsweetened and many 19th century drinkers had a sweet tooth! Since the sugar needed to sweeten it would not dissolve in the 65% to 72% alcohol, some method was necessary to get the sugar into the drink which is where the spoons came into the picture. The spoons were made in a wide variety of shapes and materials such as tin, nickel and silver (solid and plated), depending on the type of establishment were they were to be used. Sometimes the spoons bore the name or imprint of the manufacturer such as Gombalt or Christofle and occasionally the name of a brand of absinthe or the bar where they were used. Some of the designs are quite common, whilst others are very rare indeed.