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Absinthe Unleashed

I recently stopped in at the local bottle shop to pick up some low proof whiskey for a home cough remedy (honestly). While searching for rock and rye, I noticed something I'd never seen before: absinthe. On the shelf. For sale.

Banned in the West for decades, absinthe is the legendary liquor beloved by French Impressionists, Aleister Crowley, and anyone who loved a strong, hallucination-inducing drink. The Green Goddess, as Crowley called it, gets its entheogenic power from wormwood, a bitter, mind altering plant. The store clerk explained that the legal absinthe he sells is lower in wormwood so as to not induce hallucinations, but remains quite powerful. I bought a small bottle, in the name of science.

Upon opening, I noticed a distinct, liquorice sort of scent. Not bad, I thought, compared to the medicinal smell of some drinks. I lifted the bottle in a toast to poets, madmen and painters everywhere and everywhen, then took the tiniest of drinks.

The burn began on the lips, the worked through the mouth, down the esophagus, settling in the stomach. This is, indeed, strong drink. I capped the bottle, placed it in a cabinet, and turned to leave the room. It was then that the otherwordly feeling set in. Yes, that quickly, from a small sip.

The feeling didn't last long, but in the time of its thrall, I understood why people of a certain mindset could become so devoted to it. For a brief moment, I visited the same dreamscape the 19th and early 20th century artists had known so well.

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