Eastern Promises

Eastern

The top national security officials in the U.S. held a briefing on Thursday where they “described Russian efforts to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections as deep, real and ongoing, showcasing their efforts to combat a threat President Trump has repeatedly dismissed and played down,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

This just makes this the latest Dog and Pony Show about election security from the Trump administration. As the WSJ story also noted:

“Mr. Trump didn’t attend the news conference and, later Thursday, didn’t mention his administration’s plans to combat Russian interference during an 80-minute campaign rally in Pennsylvania.

“Instead, he again criticized the probe. “We are being hindered by the Russian hoax. It’s a hoax, OK?” Mr. Trump said to cheers from the crowd.”

A bit of snark from the Journal, including a note about the lunatic fringe attending Trump’s rallies.

At this point, a few months from the mid-term elections, and ever since the Helsinki summit, Trump just seems to be overtly acting as a Russian intelligence asset and openly obstructing justice in the Mueller probe.

Of course, Trump is not alone as the GOP is full of people taking mind boggling measures to support him. The latest comes from Sen. Rand Paul who, apparently upset he missed the Fourth of July Moscow visit with other Republican senators, is headed to Russia next week.

In the meantime, we are getting a pretty good glimpse of Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s ties to Russian oligarchs from his trial, focused on his dealings in Ukraine. We are also hearing more about alleged Russian operative  Maria Butina, and her boasts to classmates of being a liaison between Russian intelligence and the Trump campaign.

It certainly seems that the vast majority of the Republican Party, and GOP-leaning groups (looking at you NRA) were in bed with the Russians, figuratively and/or literally.

The drink today is the Eastern Promises cocktail. I came across the drink on Kindred Cocktails while looking for a way to use my Cocchi Americano Rosa. Eastern Promises is:

1 oz gin

1 oz framboise (raspberry eau-de-vie, not liqueur)

1 oz Cocchi Americano Rosa

.25 oz orange liqueur (calls for Mathilde XO, I used Grand Marnier)

1 dash orange bitters

orange twist garnish

Stir, strain onto a big rock, garnish

A quick word on the ingredients. While I was able to use my Cocchi Rosa, which was nice as it is tasty stuff, the framboise delayed this cocktail for a bit. My first thought was to use Chambord, until I looked closer. The framboise did complicate things a bit (life is pretty complicated these days anyway) as raspberry eau-de-vie is harder to find, being one of the harder fruit brandies to make. I probably would have dropped it, but I have been a sucker for all things raspberry going back to those bright blue Mr. Misty floats from Dairy Queen when I was growing up.

The drink comes off as a slightly bitter orange-raspberry martini.

Cheers!

You Scratch My Back…

Clear

News of another Trump campaign, Trump Tower, meeting for the purpose getting illegal (and shady) foreign assistance — this time from the Middle East — comes on the heels of the Senate Intelligence Committee report confirming that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in favor of Trump.

The New York Times is reporting emissaries from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates met with Donald Trump Jr and others three months before the election to discuss ways to help Trump win.

A few days ago the report from the Senate Intelligence Committee was released that backed up the intelligence community assessment that “The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton.” The bipartisan report is at odds with the House Intelligence Committee Republicans who are working overtime to block any attempts to understand what happened during the election.

Also last week, Trump strangely came to the defense and sought to bolster Chinese telecom ZTE after it was sanctioned for the security threat it posed to America. Then we found out the Chinese government was giving $500 million to a Trump project in Singapore.

In fact, whether it’s Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., or Russia, Trump was (and is) willing to sell out the interests of the United States to advance his own interests, and it’s pretty transparent at this point.

As we learn more about this administration’s corrupt approach, have a Clear Intentions cocktail to wash away the swampiness.

Via Kindred Cocktails, the Clear Intentions is:

2 oz gin (Sipsmith in my case)

.75 oz Cocchi Americano

.25 oz Amaro Montenegro

1 dash celery bitters

Stir over ice, strain into a chilled coupe

Cheers!

 

Old Enemies and New Friends

Friend

It is amazing to see just how much the GOP has changed in less than 10 years.

Heading in to the 2008 presidential election, John McCain’s running mate Sarah Palin was trying to make hay out of Barack Obama’s association with William Ayers, co-founder of the 1960s radical group Weather Underground. Palin, as awful as she was, tried to play the patriotism card saying Obama “is someone who sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”

Now, however, it is the republicans who seem to see America “as being so imperfect” that they’re willing to pall around with authoritarian leaders of foreign adversaries. Roy Moore, Alabama GOP Senate candidate, became the latest example the other day.

Saying that the U.S. was a “focus of evil” in the world – largely due to same sex marriage – he admired Vladimir Putin’s “morality.” The accused pedophile was not new in this line of thinking, echoing Trump from last year.

Denigrating America and praising Putin now seems to be the Republican Party policy. To honor this budding relationship, I suggest the New Friend cocktail. It’s not as bitter a drink as would seem appropriate, but they’re just palling around for now.

This variation on the Old Pal is from Serious Eats:

1 oz rye

1 oz Aperol

1 oz Cocchi Americano

orange twist

Stir over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with an orange twist.

Cheers!

Electoral Hanky-Panky

Hanky

It has been known for some time that the 2016 election was the target of questionable and underhanded activity brought on by Russian intelligence services. Our Intelligence Community has been telling us this for a year.

However, the past week saw the picture around this interference get clearer. On Monday came indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his aide. But the more surprising news of the day was that former campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty to lying about contacts with Russia (and was cooperating with Mueller).

The week ended with the NY Times revelation that another Trump campaign foreign policy advisor, Carter Page, has told Congressional investigators that he met with Russian officials. This is contrary to many denials he has made to the media.

In between, it became clear that Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions were in a meeting when Papadopoulos talked about setting a meeting between Trump and Putin. This has a number of Senators questioning the truthfulness of comments Sessions made under oath.

Congress also heard from attorneys for Facebook, Twitter, and Google this week about the use of their platforms for Russian-linked groups to run very targeted campaign ads. This meeting did not leave members of Congress feeling very confident about what did happen in the election, or what might again in future elections.

Business Insider also revealed that Russian hacker Guccifer 2.0 had altered hacked DNC emails before making them public. The timeline of Guccifer’s appearance on the scene has an interesting correlation with things we are learning about the Trump campaign and its contacts with Russia. It has been noted online today (not completely confirmed yet) that Guccifer’s Twitter account began on June 9, 2016. That was the day of the Trump Jr, Kushner, and Manafort meeting with Russians in Trump tower. Either way, the first comment on DNC hack from Guccifer was June 15.

The jigsaw puzzle Mueller is working on began to take some shape this week. There was clearly some hanky-panky between Trump’s people and the Russians last year. While we wait for more pieces of the puzzle to get filled in, sit back with a Hanky-Panky cocktail.

This classic from the Savoy Cocktail Book has gotten a nice update in the fantastic new Meehan’s Bartender Manual by Jim Meehan. Using Meehan’s recipe, the Hanky-Panky is:

2 oz Tanqueray gin

1.5 oz Cocchi vermouth di Torino

.25 oz Fernet-Branca

Stir with ice, then strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with an orange twist.

Cheers!

Better Left Dead

Reviver

Senate Republicans narrowly squeaked out enough votes to begin debating their plans to repeal Obamacare, even though there is no bill yet.

The only things that seem consistent with GOP ideas for “Repealing and Replacing” Obamacare is that tens of millions of Americans will lose their health insurance, that pre-existing conditions may well be uncovered again, and that basically this benefits no one but members of Congress and their ultra-rich donors.

Yet somehow this keeps coming back to life. While that may suggest the appropriate drink is a Zombie, I have two issues with that.

First, that would be a lot of Rum for a Tuesday night. Second, with a Zombie you pretty much know what you’re getting, but we have no idea what this healthcare reform might look like as it is being done in secret by a handful white male Republican Senators with no public hearings.

Therefore, I propose tonight is a night for a Corpse Reviver #2 cocktail. For one thing, you never know what will happen once the corpse is revived (Could have the brain of Abby Normal). This classic cocktail is also an eye opener, and we certainly need that right now.

You’ll often see it made with Lillet Blanc, but I really prefer using Cocchi Americano and believe it is closer to the original from the days of the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book.

.75 oz gin

.75 oz Cocchi Americano

.75 oz Cointreau

.75 oz lemon juice

scant barspoon Absinthe

Shake vigorously over ice and strain into a chilled coupe.

This is one of my all-time favorite classic cocktails, enjoy!

Cheers!

This Is Fine…

Dandy

Things have become a little creaky six months into the Reign of Error. Cries of “Fake News” on Russia have evolved into inquiries about Presidential pardon authority.

The first six months has also seen more disarray on the personnel front than perhaps any Administration in history. Despite claims of Democratic obstruction, of the 210 seats requiring Senate confirmation, 33 have been confirmed, 58 have been nominated, 5 more have been announced but not formally nominated, and Trump has yet to take any action on the remaining 114 seats. This is in addition to losses of people from his first National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to his spokesman Sean Spicer the other day.

Spicer’s leaving came as a result of Trump naming the slick Wall Street huckster Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director. Things did not start all too well for the Mooch. From being fully transparent about being less transparent and removing old tweets (or at least thinking he could remove old tweets) to muddled messages about the Russia investigation, it was just another weekend in the slow motion train wreck that is the U.S. right now.

Meanwhile, dealings with Congress aren’t going much better. From immigration, to health care, to infrastructure, to the Russia probe, The Washington Post headline today summed things up well saying “Republicans are in full control of government – but losing control of their party.”

“Frustrated lawmakers are increasingly sounding off at a White House awash in turmoil and struggling to accomplish its legislative goals. President Trump is scolding Republican senators over health care and even threatening electoral retribution. Congressional leaders are losing the confidence of their rank and file.”

This mess can’t all be laid at Trump’s feet. Republicans have lacked any cohesive, workable plans that they can build anything resembling consensus around for a long time, other than attention-grabbing soundbites for an out-of-power party.

Trump just amplifies the more general problems of the GOP. In an excellent Twitter thread, NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen took an in-depth look at the recent Trump New York Times interview and the way it breaks down the premises on which such interviews are historically built.

“It’s more than incoherence, it’s the obliteration of sense,” Rosen wrote. You don’t get a sense that he’s explaining what existed prior to its being asked about in the interview— or that it will persist after.

“Reading the transcript, you see desperation everywhere: a hunger for validation, a dim rage to appear before the judges of appearance.”

Oscar Wilde is reported to have said, “there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

This has been a guiding idea for Trump, perhaps forever (or at least since he was calling in to the NY Post posing as his fake publicist). Trump may not be a dedicated follower of fashion in the way Wilde was something of the pre-eminent Dandy of his day, but in the late 19th Century Dandyism was partly defined as a style marked by artificiality. As a grifter looking to enrich himself while paying lip service to blue collar Americans, Trump fits the definition.

So while we watch flames kick up around Trump and the GOP, enjoy a Dandy Cocktail. Taken from Kara Newman’s excellent book “Shake, Stir, Sip,” though the drink dates back much longer and was in the Savoy Cocktail Book, it is:

1.5 oz rye

1.5 oz sweet vermouth (I went with Cocchi Rosa in this case)

3 dashes of orange liqueur (Cointreau here)

1 dash Angostura bitters

1 lemon and 1 orange twist

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled coupe, express the citrus oils and use the peels of each as garnish.

Cheers!