Illegal for many years, absinthe still enjoys an enduring fascination as "forbidden fruit." The drink of countless crazy artists and poets 100 years ago, it's a mildly hallucinogenic brew that is said to inspire your most unhinged creativity. And people like to imagine themselves to be Charles Baudelaire.

In fact, most people are more like Charles Bronson. Er, that didn't make the point I was going for, but I guess I couldn't resist mentioning Charles Bronson. Really, people are more like Bronson Pinchot.

Anyway, so you want some absinthe. The stuff you'll get nowadays is a tamer version of what once was, though I am skeptical of the original's mind-altering properties. At any rate, until my lazy husband finishes the ol' time travel machine that he's been building for the past seven summers in our garage, I suppose the point is moot. We have what we have.

The New Absinthe™ (I hereby trademark that term) is light on the wormwood and heavy on the alcohol. Purists bemoan the lack of wormwood. These are the same people who wouldn't touch cocaine with a ten-foot pole, so I'm not sure what they're crying about, exactly. Some people just have to be purist.

Not me; which brings me around (at last) to Absente. I guess it's the equivalent of Absinthe Light or whatever, as it has no wormwood content and is "only" 55% alcohol by volume. Now, in case you're all "Well, if I'm going to have absinthe, I want the real deal," I remind you: this is still a motherfucker of a cocktail.

As with all the absinthe I've tried, Absente has an extremely strong and almost entirely unpleasant licorice taste, making Sambuca seem like lemonade. Because Absente is less purely alcoholic, it provides a more mellow buzz than the "real" absinthes.

I mixed it with water and sugar over ice – though hard to get down, I had two glasses. The effects are felt very soon after drinking even a little; after two glasses I was floatin'.

A weird clarity blends with the overall cloudiness of the drink to provide a very pleasant opium-esque drift, but without the all-over slumberousness. Extremely relaxing, but not tranquilizing, with a suspension of time that you can otherwise only get in a sensory deprivation tank. I took a bath and by the time I got out, I realized I'd been in the bath for at least 90 minutes longer than I would have guessed.

If you're looking for a tasty drink, stay far away from this; however, if you're looking for the absinthe experience without getting too crazy, Absente is a great entry point. Where you go from there is up to you, be it Baudelaire, Bronson, or Bronson Pinchot.

Review by Trotsky