Lesson learned this weekend that there’s a much better way to prepare this fine anise-flavored liqueur than the crude way that i’ve been enjoying it.Having just returned from a conference in London, Roz had the foresight to stock her chocolate and champagne birthday party with just one more indulgence — a fresh bottle of absinthe. She prepared it the traditional way (new to me), by adding one shot of the green goodness to a glass, then pouring chilled water over three sugar cubes nesting on the special slotted spoon, and finally stirring the remaining undisolved sugar into the drink. The result was a cloudy/milky green color, which, i’m happy to attest, could be enjoyed far more smoothly than the, um, more modern “fire ritual” method that this establishment has been employing. It’s worth admitting here that I’ve had a minor obsession with the stuff since the spring of 2001, when I was enchanted more by the liqueur’s enigmatic reputation than any apprecation for taste. Living and “studying” in Paris at the time, it was nearly impossible to miss the historical significance and culture prominence of this mischievous green drink. The French supposedly consumed more absinthe than any other culture, esp during the city’s 19th century high times. So if you happened to miss the antique posters referencing the stuff in every third bar or lounge, then you’d hear exotic tales of Van Gogh, Manet, and Picasso’s bohemian, absinthe-inspired Parisian lives. My good friend Tim (Tybvig) and I both experienced our first sips of absinthe in Barcelona during that same euro-semester, and while we failed miserably at the preparation (we were pretty sure we had purchased battery acid in a bottle), we credit the green fairy for one of the best nights out that either of us had ever had (and yes, it helped it that were in Spain of all places). Most recently, I’ve been able to rekindle my relationship with the green lady through some working trips to to Amsterdam and Rome, where the drink is legal, and courtesy of thoughtful vacationing friends who cared enough to smuggle some back as a gift. Here’s a recent Wired article about a crazy microbiologist who’s trying to home-brew absinthe here in the U.S. There’s no way that this can be a good idea, but the article has some interesting background on absinthe and its history of prohibition that’s worth reading.