Knowing that absinthe was responsible for so much fun in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and that it was outlawed for nearly 80 years, I head on over to Absinthe Brasserie (609 Richmond Avenue, 713-528-7575) with my pal Sweener to sample some of what the French refer to as "la Fée Verte." The bar is intimately cozy, lit by candles and playing a tasteful collection of songs by Joy Division, The Smiths and Interpol from the owners' iPods. At some point, I decide I've fallen in love with the place and order up their namesake drink, a newly legal incarnation of the liquor that supposedly made the likes of Van Gogh, Hemingway and Tyra Banks all go bat-shit crazy. The bartender pours me a shot of absinthe next to a glass of water, mumbles something, then lights a sugar cube on fire and drops it in, creating a mesmerizing blue layer of fire. In my drunken stupor, I don't know whether to drink it, worship it or stomp on it until the fire is out. After an extended period of indecision, the glass cracks and the flaming liquid starts to spread out, nearly causing a full-blown fire. The bartender puts out the blaze and stares at me with the look of someone who's just had to put out some drunken asshole's flaming drink. I get the feeling this happens quite a bit. "You're supposed to pour the water into the shot after the cube melts, like I told you," he says. "Whoops!" I reply, suddenly realizing that I had completely ignored his instructions. Sweener and I ask for our tabs and head out the door, a little too smashed to be embarrassed.
2 ounces absinthe
1 sugar cube (or 1 tablespoon sugar)
1 slotted spoon
6 ounces water (extremely important!)
Pour absinthe into shot glass and place spoon on top. Dip sugar cube into liquor and place it in the middle of the spoon. Light the sugar cube on fire. Stare at it in awe until it melts, then pour water over cube, letting it flow into the glass. Down the shot and go write your freaking novel, nutcase.
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