Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wormwood Cafe

Despite being of actual Bohemian ancestry, I'll never be a "real" one of them until I start drinking the beer, and I doubt that'll ever happen. But I can at least feel like a real small-b bohemian, now that I've drunk actual absinthe in a dive bar. I guess Toulouse-Lautrec didn't have Meat Loaf playing in his drinking establishments. His loss, I say!

There are a few brands of absinthe now legally available in the U.S., and when I saw the flier on the bathroom door at the dive bar -- $4.95 a glass -- I knew a tasting was in order. They're served pre-prepared, in a tall glass already milky with water, with the sugar cube at the bottom. Plus, a plastic straw! Ah, a new twist on the old traditions.

Our lovely waitress told us that (a) the bar had instituted a limit of one per customer after people overindulged and started getting sick, which is kind of humorous, considering some of their clientele; (b) it would be illegal to sell us a shot, which is absurd if it would contain the same amount of the alcohol, thus proving that there's still a lot of "Reefer Madness" nuttiness around the drink; and (c) they're a whole lot of fun to make on a busy Friday night, what with the sugar cubes and all. Which seems like a good reason for a limit, since I know all about serving the public with limited resources.

The consensus seemed to be that the idea of drinking of absinthe in a corner bar in North Dakota is fun, but the drink itself wasn't that impressive. Our experts thought it was way too watery, so if you've had absinthe or similar products before, you're probably better off buying a bottle and mixing it at home. If you're a complete newbie, though, a single glass may be a better place to start, so you can find out if you're one of those people who make a face and stick out their tongues. And hey! That was someone who drinks that crazy aquavit stuff!

In the course of events, the connoisseur of the group actually ran home to get some actual absinthe spoons for us to use, fished out the sugar cubes, and set them on fire. Mine had already dissolved, but c'est la vie, as the French say when they're drunk on absinthe.

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