2016 has been called the “post-truth election.” Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton just can’t seem to convince Americans that they are telling the truth. Clinton’s campaign spent an entire day changing its tune about Hillary’s health, and Trump told over 60 lies in a 4.6 hour time period (I wrote about new ways that media outlets have started to fact-check Trump here).
Can there be a solution to this? Is alcohol the solution?
The answer to those questions is a definite maybe.
Innis & Gunn is a Scottish brewery that recently attempted to solve this problem by creating a new beverage, called Smoke & Mirrors. Smoke & Mirrors is “a fermented truth serum [that renders] its imbiber incapable of anything other than straight talk.” The drink was inspired by the Brexit vote, which generated an increase in attention paid to politicians in the United Kingdom (I wrote about ancient Greece’s own Brexit here).
Innis & Gunn is clearly home to some smart marketers, because it sent some of the first samples to Clinton and Trump in an attempt to help both of them with their truth problems.
This drink isn’t straight out of Harry Potter, and its creators say that it does have some sound science behind it:
The brew’s ingredient list — which includes licorice root, the herb mullein and vine essence — was selected “enhance mental skills and the cognitive process,” while other ingredients were included to make the drinker more relaxed. The result…is a drink that promotes “Scottish-style straight talk,” if not Catholic confessional-style soul unburdenings.
Will this solve this election’s truth problem? Trump has said that he does not drink, but Clinton is known to take shots on the campaign trail, but has not been drinking on the campaign trail in recent months.
While I have not tried Smoke & Mirrors, I read many reviews of it and found a few worth highlighting. The conclusion of all of the reviews is that it is not a truth serum, but that it is definitely worth trying.
I did receive a bottle of “Smoke & Mirrors” and, in the interest of journalistic excellence, tried it out on a recent evening.
The results were a bit inconclusive. The beer’s unique taste, somewhat malty like Scotch but less strong, made a forceful accompaniment to a dinner of fish and pasta. It did not turn me into a truth totem, but it did help put another work day in the 2016 campaign mix in perspective.
I didn’t feel any more or less honest, but I suppose I was happier to speak my mind. And when I asked my dinner companion if I seemed any more truthful, she said no, but that I did seem to lighten up a bit.
Perhaps all beer is magic.
At 7.4% ABV and with enough complexity to merit many, many tastes, Smoke & Mirrors might not have clinically proven truth-telling powers, but drink enough of them and you’ll be speaking some version of the truth to the powerful, the weak and literally everyone in between.
I wasn’t able to find a place to buy this beer, but if you find some, try it yourself and send some extras to Trump and Clinton. In the meantime, enjoy the song Smoke and Mirrors by Imagine Dragons.