Your Absinthe Fountain will be the center of attention at your next absinthe party. As such, you'll want one that is beautiful, functional and just right for your taste and decor. Learning a little about fountains before you buy will assist the process of finding that perfect piece for your absinthe set.
Most Absintheurs have tried using water carafes or a Brouilleur that sits atop your glass. Both work well but once you've become familiar with the louching process, you realize a fountain is not only a time saver but will prepare a better tasting drink. Depending on the style and quality of the fountain you choose, pricing can range from $100 to $1000 so making an informed choice is most important. Let's look at some of the criteria involved in absinthe fountain selection.
Another important decision you will make concerning your fountain is whether you prefer a Metal & Glass Fountain or an All Glass Fountain. A topic of considerable discussion, the functionality of each is identical. While some absintheurs say the metal and glass are period accurate while the all glass are more modern, the important differences do not end there.
The number of spigots (or Robinettes) depends on visual aesthetics, intended placement and type of use. Some prefer a 6 spigot fountain to a 4 spigot fountain as it appears more visually balanced. Conversely, others find a 4 spout more appealing as it is slightly smaller in size on 2 sides due to the lack of extra spigots (Height and width are especially important as you will likely display your fountain when not in use. Quality fountains add a touch of distinction to any room and most consider them a piece of decor as well as bar ware). The number of people using the fountain is also important when considering number of spigots. Absinthe takes 3-5 minutes to louche. You do not want to rush the process nor do you want people waiting in line to use the fountain. If you are a restaurant/bar or having a large party, a 4-6 spout is recommended. 2-4 users will be happy with a 1-2 spout.
NOTE:All glass fountains are produced using 2 kinds of glass. Borosilicate and Soda-Lime. Borosilicate is by far superior in strength, temperature resistance and appearance. It is the same glass laboratories use for beakers etc. Borosilicate fountains are also more expensive (2-3 times more costly). Don't be afraid to purchase a soda-lime glass fountain. Just be aware of the tremendous and visually noticeable difference in quality and durability. Rule of thumb: If you intend to keep the fountain, it is worth the extra cost for borosilicate glass. How to tell if a fountain is borosilicate or soda-lime? If the type of glass is not listed, it is likely soda-lime. CAUTION: I have recently seen soda-lime glass fountains priced near $100 in an attempt to fool people into thinking they're borosilicate!
Metal and glass style fountains are much heavier than their all glass counterparts making them unsuitable for transportation. Moving them is not impossible but is much more difficult than the all glass style. Usually far more expensive, these often become heirlooms and are handed down over generations. Little maintenance is required. As a matter of fact, a quick wipe down after use is all that is required. Most owners do not polish the metal as an acquired patina can be quite desirable. If you do decide to polish your fountain, always use the least abrasive product available such as a polish intended for silver.
Lastly, it is usually a money saver to purchase your fountain as a set. Fountain sets will include the fountain, glasses, spoons and often sugar cubes. The price difference between a fountain and its equivalent set will usually get you a glass and spoon for $10-$15
All Glass absinthe fountains are much lighter than the metal and glass making them ideal for transportation. Borosilicate glass is very durable and actually short of dropping it from 3-4 feet are difficult to crack or break. Like the metal style, they require very little maintenance and a quick wipe down after use is all they need.
Lastly, I am often asked why all glass fountains have plastic spigots. This is because when tightening the spigot, over tightening a metal spigot will break the glass (ouch!) while an over tightened plastic spigot will merely break the spigot. Replacement spigots cost $5-$10 versus the replacing the fountain.