Laser cut Acrylic Absinthe Spoon

Jun 23, 2010

We have a bar in the basement called Absinthe that serves, of course, Absinthe, that controversial, formerly illegal alcoholic beverage. As is almost inevitable for a drink with such a reputation, there is a great deal of ritual associated with serving it…

Traditionally, absinthe is prepared by placing a sugar cube on top of a specially designed absinthe spoon and then placing the spoon on the glass which has been filled with a shot of absinthe. Ice-cold water is then poured or dripped over the sugar cube so that the water is slowly and evenly displaced into the absinthe – Wikipedia

We wanted to capitalize on this ritual in our pitch for a marketing take-away piece for the company. Our idea was to create a single use absinthe spoon out of acrylic that could be used to prepare the drink, and then given to the patron as a ‘keepsake’. This idea was an instant hit with both the owner and the manager.

Designing a cool absinthe spoon wouldn’t be much of a challenge — there is an incredible library of amazing and beautiful spoons from the last 200 years to draw inspiration from. However, the unit price we had to hit for them to be able to give them away with every absinthe pour was pretty aggressive.  The design had to be unique and interesting, yet simple enough to cut quickly, and shaped in a way to be able to nest as many on a sheet as possible to keep the material cost in check. The last requirement, which did not emerge until after our first set of designs, was that the blade of the spoon be able to reach the bottom of the glass to stir undissolved sugar off the bottom of the glass.

The material was a no-brainer. Absinthe is bright green, and the bar’s color scheme and decorations already play to that. Chemcast makes a fluorescent green acrylic that was a perfect compliment.

To keep costs down, we started with the a simple oval with the business name cut from the middle. It closely represented their existing logo, cut fast, and worked well in that it held the sugar cube well, and didn’t lose water over the sides. We also presented a concept based on a wormwood leaf, the plant used to make absinthe. We liked the leaf concept, but the initial design was too slow to cut. The owner liked it as well, but couldn’t justify the increased cost. It also came out at this point that he wanted it to be usable as a spoon to stir the drink, thus the lack of a handle was a problem.

We went back to the drawing board and wrestled with some of the other historical designs looking for something that was cool that wouldn’t bust his budget.  We came up with a lot of great potential designs, but they were all either too slow to cut, or impossible to nest efficiently. Finally, we went back to the wormwood leaf concept.  We shrunk the leaf down, and extended the stem.  It took a few more iterations to get the number of leaves and leaf style correct, but we got there. To reduce production time, we just cut the perimeter and etched the logo and web address on the surface. We relied on the leaf shape to allow the liquid to flow through into the glass.

The next prototype was well received, but the handle was still straight, and tapered to a rather boring end. One of the bartenders working that night made a brilliant suggestion, and we curved and flared the end of the spoon so that it looked like the base of a leaf that had been plucked off the plant. With that, the deal was made and production began. We deliver the balance of the first order this week.