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Issue Date: November 2008

(how to) Drink Absinthe

Andy Netzel
>> Lakewood: If one is judged by a drink order, nothing will say you are a part of the artistic, intellectual set more than absinthe. It is said to be the drink that drove Oscar Wilde mad and prompted Vincent Van Gogh to lop off his ear. While some dismiss the reported hallucinogenic effects as prohibitionist propaganda, sipping on a spirit the U.S. formerly banned adds to the mystique.
When you order absinthe, the bartender will prepare it one of two ways. They taste identical. The difference is all in the presentation, and that matters because this is a showy drink.

An ornate spoon may be placed over your glass of absinthe and icy water poured over a sugar cube. Or the server may use a balancier, a device that sits atop your glass with a sugar cube placed inside. The frigid water bounces into your drink after hitting a teetering metal bar. The drink is ready when it becomes cloudy. This process is called la louche.

We sampled four types of absinthe atPier W in Lakewood, where they have all the proper tools to prepare the infamous green fairy.

• Lucid ($12.50): Light green in color with a very smooth taste; a heavy anise flavor remains from the first sip and lingers for a strong aftertaste.

• Grande Absente ($12.50): Neon green with a high concentration of wormwood and tasty; you can feel the stiff in this drink in your nose.

• Absente ($9.95): A ’70s-kitchen-appliance green and very smooth. Incredibly mild compared to the Grande Absente, with less anise taste.

• Kubler ($9): Clear, and has a mild taste with a strong aftertaste. Not terribly potent.

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