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How To Drink Absinthe

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Despite its reputation as the hallucinogen behind illustrious names such as Van Gogh, Charles Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde, absinthe, or the Green Fairy, is a narcotic only in so far as its extremely high alcohol content. Nevertheless, there are hundreds of years of history behind the emerald spirit and specific ways of selecting, preparing and drinking it, now known as the absinthe 'ritual'.
What you'll need: 
Absinthe (French or Czech)
Absinthe spoon/slotted spoon
Absinthe glass/small stemmed glass
Brown sugar cubes
Cold water
Lighter (optional)
1: 
For the traditional French method, pour 25ml/0.75oz of your chosen absinthe into the absinthe glass. Place a cube of brown sugar on the spoon and balance it on top of the glass. Good brands of absinthe include Sebor, La Fee, Paul Devoille and Pernod Absinthe, all of which are readily available in most drinks stores and online.
2: 
Slowly pour 100ml/3oz of ice-cold water over the sugar cube and into the glass. The sugar cube will gradually begin to dissolve into the glass.
3: 
Upon contact with the water, the absinthe will turn a milky white colour. This process is known as 'louching' and occurs when the herbal ingredients in the absinthe separate from the alcohol. As a rule the better the quality of the absinthe, the better it will louche.
4: 
Tip the remnants of the sugar cube into the glass and stir with the spoon until completely dissolved. Add water to taste.
5: 
Though said to be a result of a marketing campaign, the Czech or Bohemian method of preparing absinthe is more dramatic than the traditional method and relies on the high alcohol content of the spirit.
6: 
For the Bohemian method pour 25ml/0.75oz of absinthe into the absinthe glass. Dip the sugar cube in the absinthe before placing it on the absinthe spoon on top of the glass.
7: 
Light the sugar cube and let it burn until it begins to melt and caramelise. Drop the remaining sugar into the absinthe before adding the cold water and stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add water to taste.
Conclusion: 
Prepared and drunk carefully absinthe can be hugely enjoyable. Be warned however as the wormwood and other herbal ingredients will leave you feeling a little worse for wear should you overindulge.
Tips: 
Buy the highest quality absinthe you can afford as cheaper versions may have had the herbal ingredients added after distillation.
Warnings: 
Be aware of absinthe's high alcohol content.
Drink responsibly and know your limits.

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