Media Distortion

Do I have time to write a quick rant? Of course!

The spirits industry is perfectly familiar with tons of hype, bullshit, and outright lies. That’s how the industry has come to be. For the most part American drinkers just want a beer and don’t really care much about it. For the rest of us, there’s the game.

Media access can be a game changer. Every distiller, bar owner, and even some reviewers watch this avenue of information for good reason. The reason being that most people trust what they see on television. If someone televised that grass clippings could make you lose weight, the next day neighborhood lawn care businesses would all become million dollar companies. It’s the boon of every advertiser, and the bane of every skeptic.

Enter the Food Network and enter John Green.

John Green is a “top-level” consultant that just got a show about fixing up bars. It’s Hell’s Kitchen for alcoholics, but simply titled “On the Rocks”. While I don’t doubt John’s business expertise I do know enough about absinthe to spot snake-oil in the industry when I see it.

In the episode titled Motor City Meltdown, this supposed expert teaches a bar to do one thing even amateur absintheurs know never to do. That’s right, he lights it on fire. If this was just it I’d be fine correcting yet another thousand people not to do this. It would be a huge folly to underestimate how successful the Food Network is, so many people think you light absinthe on fire now, thanks.

John then goes a step further and teaches a cocktail to reinforce the hallucination myth, his “Hallucinogenic Monk” cocktail. This is enough to count for all three strikes. Most people, even with a passing knowledge of absinthe, know how false this myth is. Yet again, Food Network reaches a significant audience and just reinforced a myth that tons of grassroots people have worked their asses off to dispel.

To his credit John did teach the traditional pour method of serving absinthe, but as someone who boasts of expertise I have to raise doubt about what he does with other spirits. John Green may know how to fix your business, but as far as spirits knowledge he just raised a big flag in my book for complete idiot. I don’t know other spirits well enough to easily spot bullshit but with John failing this one so hard his expertise level is about zero in my book, becoming one of the many “insta-experts” created just for television, who don’t actually know much (especially since a Google search, including different alcohol keywords, brings up some young adult fiction writer instead of this guy).

So why not just write an angry e-mail to Food Network? First, I think that’s already been done by others, and most likely ignored. Secondly, now I have to re-educate people and spend even more time fighting the very myths that have held back the progress of absinthe. I don’t know of any other category of spirit where you can buy utter crap, and amazingly great products, for about the same price. This is due to the fact that the consumer is not knowledgeable enough to discern between brands, therefore creating a supply and demand for the entire category as a whole instead of a naturally stratified one. The entire reason I started this blog was to curb the flow of myth and present the verifiable, and experiential facts of absinthe. The more that people know the reality of absinthe, the more stratified the market will become, and the more rewarded those who do it right, will be.

Now I also have to fight a Food Network ignorance bomb.

Thanks guys.

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4 thoughts on “Media Distortion

  1. Inasmuch as I applaud your noble intentions, may I offer few words of advice: “Know your enemy!” & “Never mock the afflicted.”

    The Food Network only cares about 1 thing…ratings. The truth? Reality? Pull-ease. Which makes for “good television”? (in itself is an oxymoron.) The drip or a ring of fire?

    Their hottest property is Guy Fieri, fur Chris’sake!

    Their 20th Anniversary is this month. I was there watching “Too Hot Tamales”, Batali, Flay & Lagasse (before they had live audiences) & later Alton Brown & learned a hell of a lot. But now? I knew faux leopard & stripes were never “bitchin'” before Nadia.

    It’s all Food Fights & fashion shows or as the present execs would say “good television”. Where are Jacques & Julia when you need them?

    No, I’m not peeling onions, I just miss the good old days.

    Pass that bottle & hold the matches.

    • I agree that the Food Network isn’t exactly the best information network, especially recently. That doesn’t stop people from mimicking their silly shows. If no one calls out their B.S. then who will set the record straight? That is the entire point of any absintheur blog, dispelling myths and calling people out when we see them. I couldn’t just let this slide, no matter my personal feelings of irrelevance towards the network. They have an audience who listens whether we like it or not, so we now have corrections to make.

      Their shows have plenty of faults. This is an absinthe blog so I point out the absinthe related ones. I’m sure someone with a general drinks blog or whisk(e)y one would point out a few things concerning ice use in a rare scotch but I don’t have a dog in that fight. Well, not on this blog anyways.

      Maybe if we get the word out, more people will expect what we do and ratings will suffer enough to provoke a positive change, most likely not. If I can correct a few viewers of that show then my job is done. I don’t have their reach, but I’ve been “warned” about the reach I do have previously (ie: Pernod and Swiss IGP).

      If someone calls themselves an expert, then I hold them to the standard of not fucking up the basics. Another phenomenon that needs correcting, “experts” without expertise. I see no fault in calling out these non-experts for what they are and how basic their mistakes are.

      My spelling isn’t so hot either, no worries.

  2. Never was much good at spelling.

  3. I never knew there was so much controversy about Absinthe. Thanks for educating me!

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