Message In A Bottle


So, having safely navigated my way home (the yellow taxi is your friend), I am left pondering the following question:

Does drinking too many manhattans make one melancholy, or is it just the nature of the author?

I think, however, that the minor premise -- that other alcoholic libations would produce different results -- is a more interesting, and perhaps, more fruitful, avenue of investigation.

I think that I'm going to need, uh, "research assistants" on this one.


As an alleged cocktail expert, I can offer the following comments:

1) The physiological effects of alcohol in general to amplify moods or change them has been widely discussed elsewhere

2) Different cocktails will certainly contribute to a mood, in concert with other circumstances, such as company, environment, and one's disposition. That's not to say that ordering a Mai Tai when feeling suicidal will make one chipper. However, certain cocktails, such as the Sazerac, are inherently contemplative in nature, while others are more festive (festive cocktails usually LOOK festive). Then there's the Absinthe Drip, which might be able to produce melancholy in the happiest-go-luckiest on the most joyful of days.

I should probably stay away from the Absinthe Drip, in that case.

What's in it (other than absinthe, of course)?

Water and sugar.

The absinthe drip was the most popular ritualistic approach to drinking absinthe. Real absinthe (as opposed to pastis such as Pernod, Herbsaint, Hercules, Ricard, Absente and various other absinthe-substitutes past and present) is unsweetened (very bitter) and extremely high proof: 60-70% alcohol. Since absinthe needed dilution and at least slight sweetening to go down easier, glasses and a special spoon design evolved: you've seen the apparati depicted in hundreds of paintings and drawings by the European impressionists and post-impressionists. You may have noticed that most of the people in these scenes are dissolute and/or dozing (advanced state of alcoholism).

Basically, you put a measure of absinthe in an absinthe glass, balance the slotted absinthe spoon over the glass (it's designed to balance easily), place a lump of sugar on the spoon, and then slowly dribble cool water over the sugar lump from a pitcher. The water slowly dissolves the sugar and drips into the absinthe, gradually diluting it and turning it milky green. When the sugar has completely dissolved (or you lose patience), you give the solution a stir with the spoon and begin sipping.

The temperence movements on both sides of the pond made absinthe illegal in most parts. What we got as a replacement were pastis: much lower proof and heavily pre-sweetened: really a licorice liqueur. I've been told, however, that Pernod-Fils recently began producing and selling real absinthe in parts of Europe.

N.B.: For some years now, various eastern european producers have been selling "absinthe". Their products may technically qualify as absinthe, but they only fit for disinfecting the toilet.

Now THAT is a learned discourse! What research. What insightful commentary.

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