Though fancy liquor stores sell bright-green booze in bottles labeled "Absinthe," it's not the real deal. Actual, bona fide absinthe is illegal to sell in the U.S., as it contains a chemical called thujone, produced by wormwood, which is banned in food products by the FDA. Thujone is also what gives absinthe its narcotic properties—though the effects are closer to those of THC than LSD. Sorry to dash those bohemian-artist dreams of yours, but you're not drinking the real stuff.
However, wormwood itself can be found if you look hard enough (or just buy it online); I actually used to get it from a witchy little shop in Long Beach. Just for the hardcore absinthe-aficionado wannabes, here's the recipe for the moonshine version of the Green Fairy—obtained from an "Absinthe Professor" at Burning Man (totally legit). It's pretty rough, though, and might have some crazy side effects if you drink too much (like going blind or cutting off your ear), so have a friend try it first.
750 ml. 100-proof vodka or Bacardi 151
1 oz. wormwood (do NOT buy powdered wormwood, which creates a black, undrinkable sludge )
1 tsp. angelica root
1 tsp. hyssop
1/4 tsp. cardamon pods
1/2 tsp. coriander Seeds
1/2 tsp. anise seeds
1/4 tsp. caraway seeds
1. Combine wormwood and alcohol in a large glass jar and leave in the dark (the back of a closet works nicely) for 10 days.
2. Strain out wormwood. This process takes awhile, so be patient! Try using cheesecloth or even coffee filters.
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3. Add remaining spices to alcohol.
4. Return to the Dark and soak for four more days. Then strain well.
5. Pour into a glass over a sugar cube. Add water to cut the taste (optional). Cheers!