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.