Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Americans try Absinthe for the First Time on BuzzFeed ... and other absinthe videos

On August 4th, 2015, many absinthe lovers were quite dismissive of a new video which appeared on BuzzFeed that day: "Americans try Absinthe for the First Time."

Initial comments included: "Just silly, "Makes us Americans look like idiots," "It boggles my mind to believe that people STILL believe that absinthe makes you "TRIP" balls .."

Then the comments changed to "Well, at least they prepared it properly and used actual absinthe," and recognition of how BuzzFeed works: "If it isn't ridiculous then BuzzFeed doesn't want it. Hipsters pretending to trip ballz on just alcohol generates views, education does not."

And this video has certainly generated views: over 2.1 million YouTube views at the time of writing, making it by some way the highest viewed absinthe video ever shown on YouTube (and thus probably globally). It also has more likes (over 65,000 likes) and more comments (over 2,500) than any other absinthe video. The video was also posted on Facebook, where (as of October 8, 2015), it has had over 20 million views, over 180,000 likes, over 280,000 shares, and over 44,000 comments!)

Here are the rest of the Top Five YouTube absinthe videos. They are here for completion only, and I don't recommend wasting too much time watching them (apart from the absinthe glass drawing video).

A video for IOS Jailbreak software. Nothing to do with real absinthe. 1.4 million views.

The absinthe effect. Nothing to do with real absinthe, this video just shows the effect of being very drunk. 1.2 million views.

How I drew an absinthe glass. At last a good video that is partly about absinthe. Also 1.2 million views.

Shoenice slams absinthe. Showing how to drink a whole bottle of Lucid Absinthe at one go. Just under 1.2 million views.

 I wanted to put up those other 4 videos as well to highlight a couple of points:-

a) Sadly there doesn't seem to be any great interest in good educational videos for real absinthe. There are some educational videos further down the top 20 list, but most of them choose products that absinthe connoisseurs would not recognise as real absinthe and one includes the burning option.

b) It is all too easy to associate drinking absinthe with getting drunk or "other" effects. The BuzzFeed video's stars are either claiming to experience those "other" effects, or are actually experiencing placebo effects. Entertaining, perhaps, but not very educational or informative. At least it is not focused on watching people getting drunk!

c) Viewing all five videos, and then reading the comments underneath the BuzzFeed video, there remains an enormous, ongoing need for education about absinthe. What it is, what it does and how to drink it.

Ignoring the video's humorous elements, BuzzFeed clearly shows how to drink it.

  • With chilled water (3 - 5 parts).
  • The fountain is optional: a decanter or carafe can work just as well.
  • Maybe with a sugar cube, although a lot of good absinthes do not need any sugar.
  • Not as a shot, and definitely not burnt.

It skips briefly over what it is ...

and doesn't really answer the question of effects here:

There is NO difference between absinthe in the past and "modern absinthe," except for the fact that some "bath-tub absinthe" made in the 19th century may have been poisonous!

BuzzFeed makes one very good point, maybe without realising it. It chose two absinthes in smaller (200 ml) bottles for its video: La Clandestine and St. George.

Smaller bottles are an ideal way to try absinthes for the first time before committing to a full bottle purchase. In fact smaller bottles may also be a good way for some bars to start with absinthes (especially if they want to offer a broader range or if they expect a lot of their absinthe to be used in dashes or rinses).

BuzzFeed shows people socialising and having fun with absinthe, hints at its naughtier side, but also illustrates the issues and opportunities for absinthe. BuzzFeed videos are produced in Los Angeles, and it seems rather surprising that none of the cast have tried absinthe before. If the characters in this video (trendy, well-off Californians) really are trying absinthe for the first time, then absinthe companies have some way to go to create trial and interest.

I find the comments beneath the BuzzFeed video to be of greater concern (current ignorance) and to highlight the opportunities (overcoming ignorance will attract and keep tomorrow's consumers). There continues to be a lot of misunderstanding about absinthe, but BuzzFeed has helped to correct some of that. For those of us in the absinthe sector (making, marketing, selling absinthe), the need for education continues. Bars and retailers serving and selling absinthe correctly will do a lot to address the ongoing ignorance about the category.

I would love it if BuzzFeed had made an even better educational video, but their film is, in overall terms, a positive for the category. I'm pleased that BuzzFeed chose 200 ml bottles for the video (La Clandestine and St. George): they are a great way to try an absinthe for the first time.

Finally, an absinthe video that is a little more educational. I've pulled together a collection of photos (taken by Peter Wilhelm) showing the wonderful 2015 Grande Wormwood harvest featuring a top wormwood grower, Yves Currit and several absinthe makers, including Claude-Alain Bugnon. The wormwood is now being dried (see the last few photos) and the absinthe will be available in 2016 should BuzzFeed be ready for another video about absinthe!

1 comment:

Seth Pylad said...

This was a really nice comment on the Buzzfeed video. All in all very close to what I thought/think of it.