It won't make you see green fairies but it is very strong. At nearly 70% it's a little like drinking anise-flavoured gasoline. Among alcohol it is unique, exciting and most of all - memorable.
There are two main reasons that you shouldn't drink absinthe straight. The first is the strength. The second, better reason is that the preparation is a fascinating and mesmerizing show you don't want to miss out on.
You Will Need:
Step 1: Start With the Sugar
Place your slotted spoon over the glass, put a sugar cube on it and pour 1-2 shots worth of absinth over it.
Proper slotted spoons are hard to find - even online. An easier and cheaper alternative is to find a tea strainer that suits your purposes. In the second photo you can see two varieties of tea strainer - the first fits perfectly over my absinthe glasses and the second, which used to be shaped like a pair of tongs, I simply bent into position.
Step 2: Light the Cube
Turn out the lights, strike a match and light your sugar cube on fire. Let it burn - the heat will carmelize the sugar and help it melt into your drink more easily.
You can douse the flame by slowly dripping cold water onto the cube. This will achieve "the louche" or a milky opalescent appearance. This is the extent of the traditional method of serving absinthe. If you would like to try the bohemian method, skip the dripping water and head to the next step.
Step 3: Full-on Flames
Tip your slotted spoon and drop the sugar cube into the absinthe. This will light the whole thing on fire and you can watch it flicker for a moment or two.
Occasionally the flames will die down on their own, but normally you should use use a shot of cold water to extinguish them or simply blow them out - you don't want to shatter your glass (it will be hot so don't touch it right away or pick it up from the bottom).
Optional: Add a drizzle of simple syrup and a few ice cubes.
Now that you've mastered how to serve absinthe, try experimenting with it: