There are few beverages that enjoy the reputation and mystique that absinthe commands.
It's fabled to be highly addictive, and inducing hallucinatory flights of fancy - as evidenced by the writing and painting produced by famous turn-of-the-century artists, poets and the like.
It has been OUTLAWED in the US, till fairly recently, thanks to this air of mystery.
The prohibition has ended now, which is sort of bittersweet for me. Lovely, because now you can try the *real thing* and not have to suffer licorice flavored liqueurs. Sad, because it's losing some of it's magic - 'the man' has decided it's not a psychoactive drug laden beverage, just highly alcoholic.
I love the idea of absinthe for the same reasons I love the idea of High Tea: I find the era fascinating, and the process involved nothing short of magically ritualistic.
Proper absinthe glasses are glass or crystal, with a reservoir that measures a shot of absinthe. They have a kind of angular deviance to them - at once elegant any mysterious looking. The absinthe spoon is a singular tool and come in artful designs. The main requirement is that the spoon has holes in it to facilitate water flowing through a sugar cube resting on the spoon. But the shapes of the holes and even the material of the spoon is completely up for grabs.
Then there is the process of the classic absinthe drink. It's not a quick dumping of ingredients and a stir. Oh no. There's a sort of meditative style to it. First, the absinthe. Then the placement of spoon and sugar cube. And finally the s l o o o w pour of cold water over the sugar cube. The result: a cloudy liquid that smells like herbs drying in some forbidden place of knowledge and gnarly powers.
Needless to say, I've ordered my glass and spoon and I've got a place in mind to purchase my first bottle of absinthe. Will imbibing inspiring in me works of art and literature? Will it initiate a careening madness? Or will it just lead to a wicked morning hangover? We shall see...
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