picasso[1]In fiction, villains with monocles sip it. In real life, hard-living painters, poets and novelists were once notorious for drinking it into the wee hours and making a nuisance of themselves. Today is


A wicked green drink, Absinthe is an Anisette-flavored whiskey, overproof and nasty to smell, never mind swallow.

All kinds of funny little glasses and rituals are involved with making this crap palatable, such as dissolving a sugar cube in your drink with a special “Absinthe Spoon.”

This whiskey once had an undeserved reputation as an addictive narcotic drink, but it’s just powerful booze, no different than any other 120-proof firewater. Originating in Switzerland in the 1700s, Absinthe is made from wormwood, which is not wood at all, but leaves from a bush, mixed with anise, fennel and medicinal herbs (hence its narcotic reputation), then distilled into a potent alcoholic spirit.

Absinthe peaked in popularity during the art explosion of the late 1800s and early 1900s, until World War 1 changed everything. Fussy little vices gave way to the brash Jazz Age of champagne, bootleg hootch, reefer madness and letting it all hang out.

•Suggested Activities: Don’t even think about it, you’re not Rimbaud, Van Gogh or Hemingway, who lived for self-abuse.

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