Speaking of caveat emptor and questionable spoons ...

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Thru December 2001: Speaking of caveat emptor and questionable spoons ...
By Chevalier on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 09:50 am: Edit

Oh for chrissakes, I called you absinthespoon. Apologies, man. You're absinthedrinker. Got it.

By Chevalier on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 09:37 am: Edit

You're right, absinthespoon. The French were (and some of them still are) the kings and queens of fussiness.

Not to belabor the point, I hope, but the spoon I'm talking about isn't intended to be held above a glass. It's meant to sit on the glass's rim, in the same manner as some "Les Rondes" absinthe spoons.

By Absinthedrinker on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 02:47 am: Edit

When you visit French flea markets you see dozens of slotted and perforated spoons as parts of dinner services and condiment sets, none of them are described as absinthe spoons in France because the locals simply know better. The French have implements for just about everything you might eat or drink. It is pretty safe to assume that if you need to hold it over the glass it ain't an absinthe spoon. I mean it's bad enough aiming the water at the sugar on a balanced spoon after a couple or three glasses let alone holding a carafe in one hand and a spoon in the other.

By Chevalier on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 01:58 pm: Edit

Thanks, Etienne. The oldest ones I've seen go back to about 1880s; the "newest" are post-ban, perhaps the 1930s.

By Etienne on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 01:28 pm: Edit

I think that Zman7 has hit it. Perhaps something to go along with all those cocktail shakers you see from the twenties and thirties. It would be interesting to know what flatware patterns they were made in. My best friend is a serious silver dealer, I'll show the photo to him and see what he might know about them.

By Chevalier on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 11:18 am: Edit

Could be. It jibes with the old catalogue description.

Some of these spoons have very elaborate handles, pattern designs in fact, indicating that they sometimes came with a dinner service set of silverware. I've seen one made by Reed & Barton; others have no stamping at all.

Many of the less fancy versions of this spoon have a large cut-out of a five-pointed star, or a shamrock, on the holding end of their handles. I've no idea why.

By Zman7 on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 11:09 am: Edit

I'm no expert, but I use to be a bartender and this item looks like it could be used for a glass strainer, such as used after mixing a martini or other such drink. It looks like it could be easily held in place with one hand while pouring into the serving glass.

By Heiko on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 10:59 am: Edit

The antique sugar-sifter spoon I own also makes a great absinthe spoon with narrow glasses (and it's in some ways similar to that spoon here).

Phil once said about it that it's "definitely not an absinthe spoon, sorry" - so I guess I know what the experts will say about this one, too...

By Chevalier on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 10:22 am: Edit

Sorry , Petermarc , for calling you back to the chuckwagon: I'd forgotten that you'd done your share of commenting.

As for the other experts around here ... what do you think?

By Chevalier on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 10:17 am: Edit

Oxygenee , Petermarc , Chrysippvs , Etienne , do you have any thoughts on this? Looking forward to hearing from you!

-- Chevalier

By Chevalier on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 07:14 am: Edit

Thank you Vera; thank you PM.

You're right, this spoon resembles a nut / bonbon spoon. There's one detail that distinguishes it, however: The arc at the handle's base that hooks the handle onto the rim of a glass. In some models (not the one pictured), the handle's arc looks exactly like those found on common absinthe spoons.

Even more intriguing is the reference in Mme. Delahaye's spoon book. Her "Faux-Amis" page shows three engravings of the spoon, taken from Belle Epoque silverware catalogues. In each engraving, the spoon is called a "passoir" for "boissons Americains" (American drinks) or "Cocktails".

It's true that the spoon's bowl is too big for stirring. It sits on top of a swirl glass and covers the glass's opening completely. But as Petermarc notes, plenty of absinthe spoons ("les rondes" come to mind) can't be used for stirring.

Speaking of swirl glasses (and "Chops Ivonnes"), these were used for absinthe AND other types of drinks ... yet they're still considered absinthe glasses. Which begs the question: can this spoon be called, bought as, and sold as an absinthe spoon? Or do we need Mme. Delahaye to deem it as such?

By Verawench on Monday, November 12, 2001 - 05:27 pm: Edit

PM, you're a master of understatement.

By Petermarc on Monday, November 12, 2001 - 05:20 pm: Edit

he was a hyper little bastard, wasn't he?

By Verawench on Monday, November 12, 2001 - 04:55 pm: Edit

Also, you can always forget the fountain, the glass, the spoon, the saucer, the water and the sugar and just drink a la Jarry. Straight from the bottle.

By Verawench on Monday, November 12, 2001 - 04:54 pm: Edit

Use a glass with a freakin' flat bottom and problem solved *grin*

Since when are we a bunch of conformists?

By Petermarc on Monday, November 12, 2001 - 04:51 pm: Edit

good point on the stirring thing, but how do you stir with a ronde/grille? and what would you use to stir the sugar after you used one? a regular spoon, maybe? damn, now it gets complicated;
glass, sugar, absinthe, water (fountain/individual fountain or carafe?)regular absinthe spoon (no other spoon necessary) ronde/grille(need another spoon)liquid gumme sugar?(still need another spoon)
the theory of green-hour relativity; the longer it takes to make your drink the slower time passes...did einstein drink absinthe?

By Verawench on Monday, November 12, 2001 - 04:45 pm: Edit

'absinthe spoon is as absinthe spoon does'

Well, unless Chevalier's spoon settles neatly over the diameter of the glass, it'd be a bit tricky to use "traditionally" - i.e., resting it atop the glass.

Personally, I find this and other bon bon spoons very attractive (moreso than any absinthe spoon) and don't mind the added "burden" of having to hold the spoon while the water is poured.

By Verawench on Monday, November 12, 2001 - 04:38 pm: Edit

They're called nut spoons or bon bon spoons from what I've read on them so far... Similar example:


By Petermarc on Monday, November 12, 2001 - 04:38 pm: Edit

it is my guess that the 'french sugar ritual' didn't translate well in 19th century america, except in small pocket areas of direct french influence, thus you see mixed drinks with absinthe, but not alot of spoons, etc...boubon, rye, beer, bitters, yes, but you don't even see that much wine, either...i think you would have gotten the shit kicked out of you in most places while trying to balance your cute little leaf spoon on a glass and gently trickle water in your drink while most others just had a glass and a bottle...
as far as spoon classification goes, it seems(as M-CD standards) if it isn't obviously an absinthe spoon, then you would need to find a period catalog that actually labels it as one...as far as usage goes, well-
'absinthe spoon is as absinthe spoon does'

By Verawench on Monday, November 12, 2001 - 04:35 pm: Edit

Hmm.. seems a bit too hefty for stirring up your typical absinthe glass, which narrows towards the bottom.

Do you have dimentions off of it?

By Chevalier on Monday, November 12, 2001 - 04:20 pm: Edit

Ever since I began collecting absinthe spoons some three years ago, I've been intrigued by one supposedly "non-absinthe" model once made in the U.S. It's not terribly difficult to find in the United States; I've spotted it in flea markets, antiques shows, and on eBay (U.S.-based sellers). Marie-Claude Delahaye includes this spoon in the "Faux Amis" page of her book L'ABSINTHE: LES CUILLEURS": period French advertising labels it as a "spoon for American drinks" or "American cocktails". Here's what it looks like:

my picture

Which raises an interesting question: since it is nearly impossible to find any antique "traditional" absinthe spoons that have been lying around in the U.S.A. for the past 88 years or more ... in spite of the fact that home-based Americans, and probably more than a few, were drinking absinthe (then a typical ingredient in "American drinks" and "American cocktails") before 1912 ... could it be possible that Americans manufactured their own type of "cocktail" spoon, which would have been used for everything from absinthe frappes to mint juleps? And if so, could we properly consider this "multi-use" drinks spoon as an absinthe spoon?

I have several examples of this model. You can pick one up every few months on eBay for about $10. They're silver-plated or nickel-plated, antique, and almost invariably U.S. made. The handle arcs in order to anchor onto the rim of a glass, and the bowl fits nicely over most absinthe swirl glasses. And yes, Verawench, it's a lot more attractive that most traditional absinthe spoons.

What do you think? Could we classify this as an absinthe spoon?

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