ImPeachMint Julep: The time has come

Julep

As the debate around impeaching Trump heats up, it is becoming clear even to a few Republicans what must be done as the president* engages in impeachable offenses on a daily basis.

The time has come, not only for impeachment but also an original Gin Bitters cocktail, in this case, a variation on the mint julep recipe found in the Joy of Mixology from Gary Regan. Here, for your drinking pleasure is the ImPeachMint Julep: muddle a couple of mint leaves with 1 oz of demerera syrup in a collins glass, add 1.5 oz bourbon, I used Old Forester 1920 Prohibition style 115 proof because the times call for strong medicine, add 1.5 oz peach liqueur. I also added .25 oz Branca Menta to enhance the mint and cut the sweetness. It is also a reminder to Cheeto Mussolini that impeachment is a better fate than the one his Italian Fascist mentor met. Lightly stir the ingredients and add crushed ice to the collins glass, then garnish with a few fresh mint sprigs.

Trump’s actions have dragged our democracy far from what it is supposed to be, and without holding him accountable through impeachment restoring the rule of law will only be that much more difficult.

Let the Hearings begin!

Cheers!

Paper Chase

Paper Chase

In the current battle between Congress and Trump on the question of oversight, Trump just blinked.

It was reported earlier today that former White House personnel security director, Carl Kline, would answer questions for a Congressional investigation of security clearance issues next week. The White House has blocked, or said it would block, the appearance of administration officials before Congress since the Mueller Report became public, setting the stage for a (another) Constitutional crisis.

One key witness is former White House Counsel Don McGahn, who features in the Mueller Report around a potential charge of Obstruction of Justice. The Washington Post reported, when the report came out that McGahn’s “ubiquity in the report’s footnotes laid bare his extensive cooperation in chronicling the president’s actions,” prompting Trump to dispute McGahn’s assertions and talk of blocking his appearance before Congress. In particular, the Mueller Report points to Trump’s dislike of note taking, as the Post reported:

“Some of the report’s most derogatory scenes were attributed not only to the recollections of McGahn and other witnesses but also to the contemporaneous notes kept by several senior administration officials — the kind of paper trail that Trump has long sought to avoid leaving.”

Another part of the paper trail that is escalating the fight with Congress is the request for Trump’s tax returns. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has refused to turn them over to Congress, as required by law, and the deadline has passed. This action (or inaction) could put Mnuchin in jail for 5 years.

On several fronts, Congress is now engaged in a paper chase with the administration, so join the pursuit with a Paper Chase cocktail. Via Kindred Cocktails, this is a very tasty riff on the Paper Trail cocktail I wrote about a year ago.

1.5 oz Bulleit Rye

1 oz Aperol

.75 oz Bonal Gentiane Quina

Stir with ice, strain onto a large cube and garnish with a lemon twist

Cheers!

The Mueller Aperitif

Premiere

Despite Attorney General Barr’s best impression of Kevin Bacon in Animal House today, all is not well in Trumplandia®.

Barr cannot move everyone along past the Mueller report because its contents — even redacted as they are — will not be easily dismissed.

As details of the investigation filter out, one thing above all is clear: the report is certainly not the end of the Trump/Russia matter. If it signifies the end of anything, it is the end of the beginning in getting to the bottom of what happened in 2016.

There are more questions today than there were yesterday. A key question has always been how so many Republicans could skip their patriotic duty and protect Trump. Some clarity is coming to that (looking at you Sen. Grassley) and bringing new questions.

The revelations of the report will spill out for a couple of days. Then the analyses and interpretations and speculation of what has been redacted will take center stage for a while. Then the hearings — Mueller, Cohen, others — will consume countless hours of air time (before, during and after the hearings).

Since we are just getting started, it is time for an apéritif. I suggest La Première from Rebekah Peppler’s book Apéritif. La Première is, according to Peppler, like taking the Italian aperitivo Americano and dropping it in the middle of France. Bonal replaces the Campari and Italian (sweet) vermouth is replaced by French (blanc, in this case) vermouth. It is:

1.5 oz Bonal

1.5 oz blanc vermouth

2 or 3 dashes of Angostura bitters (I used Orinoco bitters)

soda water

lemon peel

In an ice filled lowball glass, combine the Bonal, vermouth and bitters. Top with a splash of soda water, stir gently, finish with the lemon peel

Cheers!

King of the Trolls

Storm King

Nominating Herman Cain to the Federal Reserve Board is what you get when the president is the King of the Internet Trolls.

At this point, Trump has simply said he plans to nominate the certifiable nut-job former Republican presidential candidate Cain. Nevertheless, it has had the desired effect as a storm of distraction has blown up around the idea, displacing stories of leaks from the Mueller investigation team unhappy with Attorney General Barr’s summary of the report.

Is there anybody who still doubts that Trump is basically trolling America? Dominating news cycles is the only consistent policy objective he has. In addition to the Twitter bots, he can rely on the help of Congressional troll minions in the GOP — from the annoying likes of Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and Devin Nunes to the truly dangerous impacts of Mitch McConnell — to wear us all down with a flood of nonsense.

Because a good portion of that nonsense is damaging to the US and democracy in general, it gets harder and harder to stay focused on what is important. This may be why MSNBC ratings went down in the immediate wake of Barr’s letter on the Mueller report. Many of us saw it for the BS it was and were too weary to put up with all the pointless talk around it, knowing we’d get to where we are now with confirmation of the trolling.

To deal with Trump’s trolling and frequent tweet storms, sometimes you have to come in out of his Kingdom of Rain. To help dry off, have a Storm King cocktail.

The Storm King is a Rob Roy variant from Damon Boelte (Grand Army, Brooklyn). A good break from the political is also to listen to Damon and @CreativeDrink Sother Teague on Wednesdays for The Speakeasy podcast. The Storm King is:

2 oz Blended Scotch (Black Bottle, which I got from listening to The Speakeasy)

.5 oz Nocino (Nux Alpina)

.25 oz Bénédictine

3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Stir, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, cherry garnish

Cheers!

He Went to Jared

Manhattan Transfer

It was not a good week for the Russian asset in the White House, and the Michael Cohen testimony to Congress was only one aspect of the walls closing in on Trump.

The NY Times broke the story that Trump overruled intelligence officials and ordered the security clearance for his son-in-law Jared Kushner. While there is nothing particularly unexpected or shocking in this news, it does prove — once again — that Trump lied.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) has already requested information related to granting Kushner a clearance as Congress moves to investigate the matter. Between his request that the Russians provide a secure backchannel communications avenue outside of the reach of U.S. intelligence agencies, to high debt levels (tied largely to overpaying for Manhattan real estate), the FBI and CIA had deemed Jared “unclearable.”

In today’s NY Times, Nicholas Kristof ties together a nice deal for solving Kushner‘s money problems, Saudi Arabia’s quest for a nuclear program and a company that wants to supply the Kingdom with reactors. It is so much more refreshing here now that the swamp has been drained.

By going to Jared, Democrats may be on to a more fruitful path that does not even need to involved the Mueller investigation. While debates rage around the ability to prosecute a sitting President and whether it is wise for the House to impeach Trump if it is unlikely the Senate will convict, there may be easier ways to attack the corruption of this administration.

Trumpworld presents a target-rich environment, and the past week offered several high priority targets of opportunity. The security clearance for Jared is one, but also the clearance for his wife, first daughter Ivanka, as well. Cohen’s testimony also provided another direction with Don Jr. and the Trump Organization. Federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York are already on the case in several instances Cohen told the Committee, but his testimony also gave Congress a roadmap for further investigations and witnesses.

The unprecedented Presidency* of Trump sees an almost hourly progression of abnormal and illegal behavior (check the Weekly List from Amy Siskind), but shifting the focus to those around him could be a way to begin dismantling this regime. Whatever reasons Republicans have for defending Trump, those reasons may not carry over as easily to people like Jared and Don Jr.

As the investigations turn the spotlight on people around Trump, have a Manhattan Transfer cocktail. A Phil Ward creation I pulled from “Death & Co: Modern Cocktail Classics,” The Manhattan Transfer is:

1.5 oz Rittenhouse 100 Rye

1 oz dry vermouth

1 oz Ramazzotti

1 dash orange bitters

Stir over ice, strain into a coupe, no garnish

Cheers!

Slip Slidin’ Away

Slope

The Russian operative in the White House continues his efforts to destroy American democracy with the latest ploy being the National Emergency declaration.

Even while announcing the need for extraordinary means to secure the southern border from the menace in his head, he made clear how much of a non-emergency the situation is, daring anyone to try to put a check on powers he feels entitled to wield. Immediately, a number of sycophantic, and/or compromised, Senators pledged fealty to Emperor Orange I. And Trump may not be wrong about his Supreme Court Justice picks backing up his unConstitutional actions when it gets there (see: Muslim Ban).

For the GOP to not push back on this presidential power grab and the precedent it sets is just one more of the jaw-dropping, head-scratching, WTF?!? moments from Republicans in the past few years. Some of them do recognize the power this will give the next Democratic president to declare a national emergency on guns, health care, or climate change to get around a GOP Senate (whose control is so structurally baked in as to be near certain).

Of course, precedent setting and unprecedented is the hallmark of the unPresidented age we are living through. Trump has sent us speeding down so many slippery slopes that America would sweep any Winter Olympics medal count. Forget about making America great again, we will have our hands full just making America functional again. Restoring the rule of law alone will require many difficult steps back up those slippery slopes.

Trump is golfing his way through the National Emergency, ensconced on his own property in Florida, while the rule of law is slip sliding away. Time for a Slippery Slope cocktail.

The drink comes from Tona Palomino. I found the recipe via Kindred Cocktails while looking for new ways to use Cherry Heering. The Slippery Slope is:

2.5 oz rye

.75 oz Cherry Heering

.5 oz Cynar

Stir over ice, strain into a cocktail glass

Cheers!

Hunting (and Finding) Witches

Rye Witch

The Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker would not answer questions from Congress today about whether he still considers the Mueller investigation to be a “witch hunt.”

Before Trump named the “Big Dick Toilet Salesman” (h/t @emptywheel) to the role that oversees Mueller’s efforts, Whitaker had echoed the witch hunt sentiments regularly spouted by Trumpists. While he may not own up to the words now, we can see that “Hot Tub Crime Machine” Whitaker (h/t @MollyJongFast) was just another attempt to disrupt and/or end the investigation.

Now that Democrats have control of the House of Representatives, real oversight can begin on the Trump administration and their swampy crime wave. Congressman Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is also planning on looking beyond the administration to find those who have tried to interfere with Mueller (looking at you former chairman Nunes).

It will be interesting to see how the recent revelation from Jeff Bezos over the extortion attempt from Trump friend and National Enquirer owner David Pecker factors in to what Shiff is looking into. Some of Trump’s support in Congress seems a normal extension of the cliff Republicans have driven off. But, maybe he can uncover how others, like Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham, went from such big Trump opponents to orange-stained lapdogs.

The tendrils of the corruption in Washington have spread massively (reaching all the way to South Dakota where former GOP/NRA operative — and Russian spy Maria Butina’s boyfriend — Paul Erickson was just hit with 11 felony counts). At this point (and this stat is a couple weeks old now) there have been 199 Criminal Charges; 37 People/Entities Charged; including 6 High-level Trump Associates; 7 People have pled Guilty; 4 People Sentenced to Prison; 1 Convicted by a Jury.

Whitaker may have avoided talking about the witch hunt because his boss seems to be changing the talking point to “Presidential Harassment.” At this point finding witches in and around this presidency is like finding hay in a hay stack.

The way things are going, we are likely to hear about more witches being found any time now. While you wait, have a Rye Witch cocktail.

Created by Jim Meehan, the Rye Witch is a riff on an Improved Old Fashioned. I pulled the recipe from Talia Baiocchi’s great book Sherry. The Rye Witch is:

1 dash Fee Brothers orange bitters

1 dash Regan’s orange bitters

1 cube of Demerara sugar

2 oz Rittenhouse Rye

.25 oz Strega

.25 oz palo cortado sherry

Muddle the bitters and sugar in a mixing glass, add rye, Strega, sherry and ice, stir and strain into a chilled rocks glass, garnish with an orange twist. (Yes, not a rocks glass pictured. Needed to do dishes. Don’t judge.)

Cheers!