I like Absinthe. I mean really like it. But it has to be the real stuff from the Czech Republic or some other post-Soviet country. A place where they understand that sometimes you drink to make your life seem better - and Absinthe can do just that. It has an unbelievably high alcohol content (160-180 proof) combined with a musty/dirty/bitter taste. There really aren't many nice things you can say about Absinthe other than after drinking something so vile and unpleasant you think, "My life may be bad, but its not that bad." I am not saying that Americanized Absinthe like 'Lucid' isn't good, it just misses the loucheness of the real stuff.
In absence of said 'real stuff', I recommend Pastis Absente. It offers the traditional flavors of Absinthe without the crude alcohol overkill. Originally made in France in 1915, Pastis Absente is similar to Turkish Raki or Bulgarian Mustika. It has the flavors of star anise, sage, cardamom and black pepper found in Italian Sambuca - but is nowhere as sweet; just pure sharp flavor.
One way to balance the strength of the flavors is to mix the alcohol with cold water that has been slowly dripped over a sugar cube. This can be a tedious ritual and calls for specialized equipment. My recipe (below) introduces a little simple syrup along with lemon to offset the harshness and brighten the dank flavors. When mixed with water the Pastis becomes milky opaque with yellow green hues. Just like the moonlight that was scattered across our lawn the night this drink was created. Enjoy.
1 measure simple syrup
1 1/2 measures Pastis
1/2 measure water
splash lemon juice
Pour all ingredients in order above into a tall glass over ice.