Unexcused absinthe

SN&R Illustration By Mark Stivers

Not living in a louche quartier of fin-de-siecle Paris, I’ve never had the opportunity to try absinthe, the banned and much-maligned fuel for that era’s bohemianism. Thank goodness for the Internet! A friend of mine (name withheld to protect the guilty) recently imported a bottle of brilliant, poison-green La Fée Parisian Absinthe, with the help of eAbsinthe.com, which pledges to refund your money if your bottle doesn’t make it to you. La Fée, distilled with a dozen mysterious herbs, is authenticated and endorsed by the Musée de l’Absinthe. We drank it at the end of a long dinner party—the bright eye on the bottle fixed me with a jaundiced stare all through the meal—clouded to the minty color of imitation jade with water and sugar dripped through absinthe spoons. At 68 percent alcohol, or 136 proof, it definitely needs dilution. It tastes like black licorice with a vicious kick and a lingering bitter aftertaste—not for everyone, granted, but right up my alley. Maybe it’s a good thing I can’t get my hands on it very often.