Cocktails + Libations = Cocktations

If you are wondering what a cocktation is, yours is a valid question. Cocktation is in fact a made-up word that tumbled from my mouth one day when I was trying to say the word concoction. That nifty little neologism was the seed idea for this blog, and here we both are today.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Absinthe, For Your Entertainment

I just finished watching Adam Lambert's official video for his first single, For Your Entertainment. Regardless of what you think of Lambert, he is clearly a showman, and he works that angle fiercely in his first video. The song is a sly combination of enticing grooves paired with lyrics that insinuate that Lambert is both in complete control and at the same time simply here for our entertainment. The video's visuals are replete with symbolism, including a forbidden underworld along with snakes and apples at every turn evoking connotations of the Garden of Eden and partaking of forbidden fruit. At minute 2 in the video there is a brief shot of two nubile women drinking glasses of a green clear liquid, which appears to have been poured from the fountain shown at minute 2.30. And just what are these ladies drinking? Absinthe, of course.

As a Wormwood Society member and absinthe connoisseur (I've been drinking absinthe for over 3 years, have sampled over 40 absinthes, and am a member of the Wormwood Society's advisory board), I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert on the myths and facts about absinthe. Given my passion about the subject of absinthe, whenever I see absinthe being misrepresented or abused, I feel an obligation to speak out. In the case of Adam Lambert's video, there is both good and bad in the way that absinthe is portrayed.

Let's start with the good...
No fire. I can't tell you how grateful I am and how glad my heart is that in this video no absinthe is set on fire. True absinthe that is properly distilled should never be flamed. Doing so is damaging to the delicate flavors of absinthe (Would you set an expensive Pinot Noir on fire before you drink it?), is dangerous (Absinthe is highly flammable; more so than most spirits which are distilled to a lower proof.), and only serves to perpetuate false notions that absinthe is a drug and tastes terrible (Czechsinthe tastes terrible, to be sure, but true absinthe is a wonderful beverage).

On the other hand...
The absinthe fountain is incorrectly filled with absinthe. The video depicts a proper absinthe fountain being used; however, the set-up is all wrong. Rather than filling the fountain itself with absinthe, the fountain should be filled with ice water. The spigots of the fountain are then used to slowly drip cold water over a sugar cube that is held over the absinthe glass by a slotted absinthe spoon. This process of diluting the absinthe in the glass and the resultant clouding of the absinthe and water mixture is called louching. In the video it appears that the fountain is being used as an absinthe dispenser. If this were the case, the resulting drink would be undiluted and therefore undrinkable. Absinthe should always be louched before drinking, if one is interested in enjoying the beverage, as opposed to just getting drunk and forgoing any pleasure that is to be had.

My assumption is that no one filming the video has ever used an absinthe fountain before. It's an easy mistake to make, if you don't know what the equipment is for; however, this is no excuse for the improper preparation displayed in the video.

In the future I'll be writing more about absinthe and sharing my knowledge and opinions in this blog. For now, let's wrap up with today's take-home messages:
1) Friends don't let friends burn absinthe.
2) Always louche to a ratio of 1 part absinthe to 3-5 parts cold water before you drink.
3) Just say no to Czechsinthe.

Cheers! ~Dr. Cocktation

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