Saturday, January 17, 2009

What does Barack Obama drink?

Alright, since it is looking increasingly likely that I did not get the nod to head up NASA, I think I'll take a break from my campaign for that position. In reality, I'd no more want to head up that agency, and deal with the challenges it faces and the sheer broken-ness of much of what it oversees, than I would like to do the same for General Motors. Particularly since the latter position apparently no longer comes with a private jet. While the position is as yet undecided, and I'm sure Google's servers are tired of serving up responses to my several-times-daily query "Obama NASA," I just don't think I'm going to get it this time around.

I'm also going to take a breather from joining the giant public orgasm over Captain Sullenberger, as much of a long-distance aeronautical bromance as I might have with the guy.

It is time to get back to the heart of The Noodlebook. The basics, the core of my mission and my calling: cocktails.

But as I do so, and as the inauguration of Number 44, Barack Obama, nears, I think I will not just return to the cocktailing roots of The Noodlebook via the route of politics. And in particular the question:

What does Barack Obama drink?

images-7.jpgThe origin of this question, which burns within me with a fire only slightly exceeded by a desire to understand the interaction between quantum fluctuations and the large-scale structure of the universe, is from a debate party that basically never happened. Back a few months ago, Erica and I harbored the idea of having a few friends over to watch the debates with us. We were going to have candidate-themed cocktails for the guests and the whole sort of thing.

In the end the party didn't come off at anything like that scale, it debate-watching ended up as a much more quiet series of evenings (with friends, but sans custom cocktails).

But I was left wondering -- what do the various candidates drink? We've discussed it and thought about it but to no successful conclusion. Speculation took us all sorts of ways, except for Sarah Palin who was pretty obvious, and Joe Biden, who never really got our interest.

So now it is left with one question that really matters: what is Obama's drink of choice? I'm not asking the man to be a mono-drinker, a creature of routine that only consumes one (alcoholic) beverage. That's a move usually left to the addicts, and ends up as something off the bottom shelf. Not interesting, in other words.

But much as I describe myself as a bourbon drinker, yet will enjoy a cocktail, bottle of beer, or glass of wine as season, mood, event, accompaniments, and inspiration hit me, I wanted to know what is Obama's favorite.

I tried looking on the Internet, using The Google. No success. Found a lot of "Obama Inspired" cocktails, but none that claimed to represent the candidate's actual taste. All seemed hideous, pursuing an agenda that had nothing to do with mixological integrity and everything to do with symbolism. Black and white cocktails to symbolize unification. Red-white-and-blue cocktails to symbolize patriotism. Cocktails with international mixes of constituents to symbolize change and inclusion. You get the idea. All were of that horribly sweet modern style that goes down easy but leaves you with more of a sugar crash than a hangover. There is nothing, no purpose at all, for which Blue Curacao is even remotely legitimate.

I thought I'd found the mother load when some website claimed to have an interview where they talked with Obama about his drink of choice. That was what Google's synopsis showed, so I was excited. Then I read the interview and it was clear that the whole thing was a piece of satire. Opposing Obama, supporting him, supporting McCain, I couldn't tell. I think just making fun of everyone. As humor writing, it has some hope, but failed by means of over using one piece of schtick.

So I'm still clueless.

If anyone out there has any clues, or informed speculation, drop me a note at strauss(dot)nick(at)gmail(dot)com. I've got an old high school acquaintance who is going to be at the inauguration -- at several of the balls no less -- and has a reasonable chance of bumping into The Man, I figure. I'm not sure she realizes how seriously I take this mission, but I have asked for reports of any beverages that might be observed. So while I burn with jealousy, I also eagerly await any intel.

In the meantime, here here are some acts of speculation. I'll start with McCain because I like to save the best for last.


images-5.jpgStraight Whisky John McCain is a "straight talk" kind of guy. So why not a straight shot of whisky. Bourbon, perhaps, or maybe single malt Scotch. The latter is, after all, the drink of old men, of seasoned soldiers and veteran campaigners. He's also got the budget to have some of the rare and old stuff lying around.

Shaken, not stirred Or would John McCain order a cocktail. A man's cocktail, though. A martini. Dry. Extra dry, perhaps, using the old swirl-and-dump trick for the vermouth. I can see him holding one at a cocktail party, clear and shimmering with cold, a stuffed olive on a stick floating inside. But his favorite? The casual drink of a weary evening? I doubt it.

images.jpgRank and file beer The campaign turned into a real "common man" vs. "elitist" thing in a lot of the Republican marketing. So perhaps McCain fits the image he tried to sell, the president a guy like Joe Wurzbacher can share a beer with. Palin, of course, would have a beer. A Bud. In a bottle. But somehow I think that with the half dozen houses and bling laden wife, I don't think the brews, not even the premium microbrews, are the drink of choice.

images-6.jpgWine Let's face it, despite the "friend of Joe-whatever" marketing, McCain is a guy with some cash in the family. And somehow that image (or else Cindy's) fits to a pretty substantial wine cellar. Some really, really good stuff. And somehow, more than beer or whisky, this is what I see John McCain ordering. There isn't a political thing or a diss, I mean my own tiny wine cellar has some non-trivial bottles, but somehow just an image that fits.


Here it gets more interesting.

Political Obama is a consummate politician. Like him or not, you have to admit that the guy knows how to play political cards. A somewhat uncharitable viewpoint of this could see him as devoid of real opinions -- simply doing what would look good. A Red Hook in Seattle district, wine when visiting Napa, Jim Beam when in Kentucky, and so on. Now I'll give anyone the space for a "when in Rome" attitude and the ability to do what is necessary to blend with guests. But underneath even the most unflattering of portraits there still must be a preference, the drink of home and family.

images-4.jpgArugula Martini A lot was made, particularly early on, during the campaign of Obama's supposedly elitist food attitudes. His arugula consumption became a talking point, as if eating a more character laden variety of lettuce somehow disqualified a guy from making good political decisions. The "arugula eater" characterization would see the guy drinking something fashionable, modern. Probably involving a super-premium vodka, perhaps an infusion of Kaffir lime or lemon grass or something similarly exotic. I'm OK with this. I have a broad spectrum contempt for much modern bartending (it is the whole overly-sweet thing again), but I can quite happily see Barack holding a well made, well balanced cocktail, even if a contemporary one. With, perhaps, an arugula leaf floating in it.

images-2.jpgFootnote: wait a second. Arugula in a cocktail...I wonder if I could make that work? A spicy vodka infusion for the what should go in for the sweet and sour components?

images-9.jpgMan of his roots I an also see Barack holding a class of whisky, at least as easily as I can see McCain doing the same thing. Perhaps with ice, but definitely Bourbon, not Scotch. I have no evidence for it, but I can see the man enjoying himself a glass of America's own addition to the distilled spirits world. Perhaps it is the "no-drama-Obama" sentiment, his particular brand of no-nonsense conviction and steadiness. Because Bourbon, at least good Bourbon, is a drink for contemplation and reflection. I see Obama taking his with ice, a couple of cubes. Not entirely sure why, but I can make this image stick more than most of the rest.

But you see I have no evidence of substantiation for any of this. Assessments of character, not of culinary taste, are at the heart of this analysis. And some of them are assessments made by the man's opponents. So what is it, then? Wine? Beer? Whisky? Cocktails?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I felt like I had to comment.

I was sitting on my couch watching the president address congress and I had this thought.... I wonder what the presidents drink of choice is?
I said to my fiance. I am going to "ask Google"

It took me immediately to this.

How appropriate.
It's also appropriate that I am a bartender and think you can tell a lot about a persons drink of choice.

I will stayed tuned, meanwhile doing a little research of my own.