Dear SOS: I was recently in New York City and visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In conjunction with its Van Gogh exhibition, they were offering a Champagne cocktail called Starry Night at the Petrie Court Cafe. It was one of the best I have ever tasted.
Dear Neal: An absinthe substitute called Absente gives this cocktail its entrancing anise flavor. The sale of real absinthe has been banned in the United States since 1915, but Absente, available at fine wine retailers such as Wine Expo in Santa Monica and Wally's Wines & Spirits in Los Angeles, is made without the botanical that brought on the ban.