Union Victories

Union

Everything Trump touches dies. During a global pandemic, that has mostly not been good. However, because Trump chose to be the second President of the Confederacy, and applied the Trump touch (the same one that bankrupted casinos) we may now – 155 years after Lee surrendered to Grant – finally be done with the “heritage” of  traitorous racist scum.

Trump and Moscow Mitch McConnell – a long-time operative in the Confederate underground insurgency – have been working hard follow their Russian overseer’s orders “divide so we can conquer,” but they overstepped during protests against systemically racist policing.

With many thousands of Americans in the streets of cities and small towns alike, mostly peacefully protesting the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police, Trump and the Republicans pulled out the tried and true appeals to “law and order,” and the thinly veiled white supremacist dog whistle of Confederate “heritage.” In typical Trump incompetence he took the GOP playbook too far and displayed his total ignorance of, and disdain for, the Constitution and norms of American governance.

By attempting to “dominate the streets, and use the U.S. military against protesting Americans, Trump has sparked a backlash that may continue for a while. His use of the National Guard to clear Lafayette Park for his photo op with a bible showed him to be very much the fascist dictator wannabe his critics claim. You just know he wanted to put on a uniform with full Mussolini-fascist regalia for his walk to the church.

Since then, Confederate monuments have been toppled at an increased rate, NASCAR – NASCAR!!!! – has banned the Confederate battle flag from its events, and a serious discussion has begun about renaming U.S. military bases for people other than Confederate generals.

In the midst of all of this there is still a pandemic going on, with more than 100,000 Americans dead and 2 million infected. The second wave has begun with cases spiking in states that prematurely opened, largely around the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend.

With that second wave of virus on the way, it may be time to put aside another historical flag, the Gadsen flag – the Don’t Tread on Me snake popularized recently by the Tea Party Republicans. But now is not the time for thinking of oneself, but uniting to defeat the virus, wearing masks, washing your hands and keeping safe social distance. If we must have a historic snake flag flying, make it Ben Franklin’s Join or Die flag with the sliced  snake to unite the colonies.

At this moment, with the Confederacy fading, and fascists in the White House, Americans need to be united about what this country is supposed to stand for. So pull out your copy of the Constitution and have A More Perfect Union cocktail. Via KindredCocktails from Imbibe magazine the drink is:

1.25 oz Lillet Blanc

.75 oz vodka

.75 oz Apricot liqueur

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe, garnish with a grapefruit twist

Cheers!

By Any Means Necessary

Preservation

The 2020 Presidential election is a little more than 23 weeks away, and the death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic is approaching 100,000 Americans. Preservation is the watchword of the day. This is not only true with regard to preserving health against the virus, which is only made harder by the President* leading his cultto ignore the masks and social distancing that could help preserve health. As always preservation is a guiding principle for Trump, but self-preservation, not the fight against the virus.

As the number of Coronavirus cases and deaths mounted over the past couple of weeks, Trump has been focused on keeping his finances and activities with the Russians hidden from the public now that the cratering economy has forced a change in his re-election strategy. Trump’s focus on preserving his hopes for re-election are at the heart of the impeachment case against him, and now his minions in the Senate will continue that cause for him.

For the rest of us, this points to how the American system and institutions are in need of preservation, if it’s not too late already. The Lincoln Project ad that has really gotten under Trump’s skin, Mourning in America, asks the right question at the end regarding preservation. On this Memorial day weekend, a time originally set aside to remember the Union soldiers who died to preserve the United States during the Civil War, have a Means of Preservation cocktail and make your plans for Nov. 3. From the Boston bar Drink, via Frederic Yarm at cocktailvirgin the Means of Preservation is:

2 oz Beefeater Gin
1/2 oz St. Germain Liqueur
1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
2 dash Celery Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Cheers!

Give and Take

Manhattan

Senate Majority leader Moscow Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said a lot of dumb things in his years in Congress, but his comments the other day about the lack of money for state and local governments in the most recent bill for pandemic relief, and saying the federal government shouldn’t do a “Blue State bailout,” likely take the prize as the dumbest.

NY Gov Andrew Cuomo has efficiently and effectively ripped Mitch over the comments. It is worth watching and here it is even in the Trumpy NY Post. Besides just how much more money NY gives the Federal government than it takes out — in contrast to Kentucky — Moscow Mitch’s divisive comments also help highlight the inequality of our “democracy.” While Mitch sits in the leadership of the United States Senate, controlling legislation and generally taking stances on the legislation taking actions highly unpopular with the majority of Americans, and stuffing the courts with judges who positively view opinions with which a minority of Americans agree, he was only elected to the Senate by a state with barely the population of just two Boroughs of New York City, Brooklyn and Queens.

That representational issue is a bigger deal in the House of Representatives, however, and I don’t have as much issue with it in the Senate because that is how it was designed. But our Federal system was also designed that states in need received help from the Federal government regardless of partisan makeup. Republican Senators, especially those from southern states prone to be hit by hurricanes, should be concerned by the kind of precedent Mitch is pushing.

In response to Mitch’s comments, show your solidarity with New York and have a Manhattan cocktail tonight, preferable made with rye not Bourbon. I even made mine with Chicago-based (technically Evanston-based) Few Spirits Rye, one of my favorites. This is as classic as cocktails get, but if you’re interested in the history, I highly recommend The Manhattan: The Story of the First Modern Cocktail with Recipes by Philip Greene

2 oz Rye (or bourbon)

1 oz sweet vermouth

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with cherries (don’t skimp, I always use at least 2 Luxardo Maraschino cherries.

Cheers!

 

Professor Trump’s Medicine Show

Snake Oil

For all of the appropriate criticism directed at Trump’s daily Coronavirus press briefings as nothing more than re-election campaign rallies, one important thing everyone is overlooking is that (at least for now), Trump still believes there will be an election in November that he has to campaign for. Otherwise, these briefings allow Trump to be the one thing he’s ever really wanted to be: a TV star. The largely fact-free daily episodes essentially take over evening newscasts, allowing him to pretend to be in charge and to rant about fake news (which of course is truer than ever as they carry whatever nonsense he is blathering about from the podium that day). But Trump knows how to entertain his supporters the way any good Medicine Show Perfessor knew how to draw a crowd no matter what town they rolled their wagon into.

The only thing really missing from those daily briefings is someone standing up and saying, “I used to have COVID-19, but after just one teaspoon of Trump Brand® Patented Chloroquine, I am virus free. Being able to siphon legitimacy from the real doctors and scientists standing next to him on the podium, is even better than having a shill in the audience, though.

Tests of Chloroquine are being halted due to fatal heart complications, but that is not stopping some of his supporters from believing there is an effective treatment, so why not open the economy back up? In typical Trump Grifter fashion, however, Trump figures that he will have gotten what he wants (cash from whatever financial ties he has to the drug, a reopened economy, etc) well before the bodies pile up enough to be noticeable.

While you are doing your patriotic duty and staying home and practicing social distancing, have a Snake Oil cocktail to remember why you’re not watching the Trump briefings.

From Kara Newman’s great book Night Cap, the Snake Oil is:

2 oz 100-proof Bourbon (115-proof Old Forrester)

.25 oz sherry (Lustau Amontillado)

1 mini bottle Underberg bitters

1 dash Bad Dog Bar Craft Fire & Damnation bitters (Scrappy’s Firewater)

1 dash Angostura bitters

Stir, strain into a Nick and Nora glass, no garnish

Cheers!

Dust, Wind, Dude

Arbitrary

Whether your Governor has issued a Stay at Home order or not, many Americans are staying at home to socially distance themselves during the pandemic. Some are “fortunate” enough to work from home, or as one twitter wag put it: stuck at home during a crisis trying to work. Others are trying to use this time to learn a language or learn how to bake bread. To these folks, I would remind them of Bill’s immortal words, “Dust, wind, dude.”

In Washington, we’d all be better off if they were spending their time learning to bake bread. Instead they are spending it thinking up unconstitutional ways to endanger people or enrich themselves and their friends with tax law changes.

The President* is wasting the time he should be leading the country through the crisis with by inappropriately using press briefings as re-election campaign rallies. We are also finding out more everyday about the administration’s ineffective use of time early on in the crisis, and the cost we will pay for that.

Our collective sense of time has gotten weird. But these strange days didn’t have to be this way. A properly functioning democratic government (like we used to have) works to prepare for a crisis. Even the George W. Bush Administration had preparations for a pandemic, but for King Donald I, who believes he alone can fix things, and dismantled those preparations that were in place, the cost of incompetence must be paid by the entire GOP.

As you go through another Blursday, make your plans to vote the Orange Disaster out of office in November, by mail if we can, or start sourcing your hazmat suit to go in person if necessary. Your cocktail tonight is The Arbitrary Nature of Time via Frederic Yarm at Cocktail Virgin, it is:

1.25 oz Wild Turkey 101 Rye (Rittenhouse 100)
1 oz Campari
.75 oz Cherry Heering
1 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters
2 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass containing a large ice cube. Garnish with an orange twist.

Cheers!

Stupid and Contagious

Home range

I am by nature rebellious and insubordinate (my Army personnel file would confirm that), and it is not simply because I’m Gen X. But Gen X is also nothing if not pragmatic, with a “whatever it takes” attitude, (it’s time to do what they tell ya!) so the images from Florida of Spring Breakers gathering in large numbers in a state full of old people, or hitting the bars in NYC (endangering some of my favorite bartenders), got me a bit pissed off. There are some older and immuno-compromised folks I’d like to keep around a while longer.

Even Moronavirus Patient Zero in the White House may be starting to grasp how serious this is (but probably not) and the need for social distancing. Now that state and local governments are closing bars and restaurants, and setting curfews, you’ll need to do your drinking at home. Hopefully, while you were stocking up on toilet paper and canned goods, you made a stop by your liquor store. Gen X did, because we drink and we know things. While you’re doing your drinking from home, don’t forget to pay attention to what Cheeto Mussolini is trying to slip through while we’re distracted, like helping Putin and abandoning prosecution of the Russians Mueller found to have interfered in the 2016 election.

As you stay home to work on your home bartending skills, try the Home on the Range cocktail. Via Kindred Cocktails, The Home on the Range comes from the 1945 Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide. And it’s worth keeping in mind how sacrificing for the good of the country in 1945 meant a lot more than staying home on the couch and watching NetFlix.

See you at the bar in a couple months when we get through this.

The Home on the Range is:

2 oz rye

.5 oz Cointreau

.5 oz sweet vermouth

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir and strain into an Old Fashioned glass over a larger cube, garnish with an orange twist. (If you don’t have these ingredients but do have more than three rolls of toilet paper per person in the house, you need to rethink your priorities.)

Cheers!

The Great Divide

7th Planet

We hear all the time these days about how polarized America has become. One aspect of that polarization was on display when Trump’s lawyers began their defense in the Senate Impeachment trial. They simply denied the existence of the testimony and video evidence the House Impeachment Managers had presented over the previous few days, including provable lies about House depositions and the inclusion of Republicans.

The divide between facts and alternative facts did not start with Trump, though, it goes back roughly 16 years to when George W. Bush declared Republicans would no longer be a part of the “reality-based community.”

The polarization is not simply between Republicans and Democrats, however, and a piece in The New Republic by Tom Geoghagen called “Educated Fools: Why Democratic Leaders Still Misunderstand the Politics of Social Class,” looks at the polarization within the Democratic Party. Geoghagen does offer a potential direction for finding a pass across this great divide that is worth considering.

Still, the reality-free stream of nonsense spewed by elected Republicans and their Fox News propaganda apparatus has earned the label “Earth 2.” While I agree with the sentiment that those making or believing such BS must be on another planet, I think the idea of Earth 2 suggests a much closer association with this world than can usually be found in statements from Trump or Fox News. It would be more appropriate to put a couple billions miles distance between reality and Republicans. That distance puts the GOP on Uranus. Yes, I hear you doing the Beavis and Butthead laugh. I do believe we will have to find the common ground that unites us and at least all get back on the same planet before we can get back together as part of the same country.

To help think about the distance we need to overcome, have The Seventh Planet cocktail (Yes, that is Uranus). Via Sother Teague in his book I’m Just Here for the Drinks. The Seventh Planet is:

1 oz lime juice

.5 oz Blue Curaςao

2 oz Reposado tequila

Prosecco

Combine all ingredients except the Proseccco in a shaker with ice, shake well and strain into a highball glass with ice. Top with Prosecco. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Cheers

What Matters Most in 2020

Crux

Over the past weekend a lot of people on Twitter were talking about the work America has ahead of us to clean up after Trump. I couldn’t agree more, and I have written about it before, first here and most recently in June.

The question of how we rebuild our democracy, our alliances, and our standing in the world in the wake of the Trump presidency will define the opposition to Trump in the election. This Restoration I believe is a key source of Biden’s strength. Even some MAGA-types seem to recognize that now we actually need to “make America great again.”

Much of America’s authority in the world came through “soft power” and it will not be regained simply by removing Trump. With a planet in the midst of a climate crisis, America will not restore its standing while one political party, representing a significant portion of the government, favors superstition over science. For this reason among many others, Joe Biden would be better off choosing Kamala Harris rather than a Republican as a running mate. Beside the fact that she would naturally be better than a republican, It also nicely sets up a successor. Others, such as Elizabeth Warren do seem to understand that before America can move forward with the best progressive plans, we first have to at least get back to where we were in our position in the world. (Or at least stop being a proxy for Russian positions.)

It won’t be easy, but I believe the candidate with the best plan to clean up after Trump will have the best shot at replacing him. As we Officially move into 2020 tonight, have a Crux cocktail. Via Kindred Cocktails the Crux is:

1 oz Cognac

.75 oz Cointreau

.75 oz Lemon Juice

.75 oz Dubonnet Rouge

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

As a side note, I began this blog 6 years ago today. It was just as my exploration of cocktails and their ingredients was beginning (more of that story here), and while I wasn’t well versed in the cocktail blogosphere of the time, I thought I’d take it from my business journalism background. That never really went anywhere, so I rebooted Gin & Bitters into what you’re reading now in January 2017. The world is so different now than it was 6 years ago. Hopefully this time next year I will be looking for a new angle for this blog because we won’t need a stiff drink just to watch the news anymore.

Happy New year!

Cheers!

The Kurds of 5th Avenue

5th Avenue

At a campaign rally in Iowa, in January 2016, Donald Trump said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters,” and then folded his fingers into the shape of a gun.

But Trump’s abandonment of our Kurdish allies, and their subsequent attack by Turkey,  may have more of an impact than just some random guy Trump might shoot on a street in New York City.

This move comes at a time when Trump’s foreign policy moves are already under scrutiny for being less about America’s global interests than his own.

The stunning betrayal of our closest ally in the fight against ISIS is cause enough for a strong rebuke of the President*, but the way Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops in Syria played into the hands of Erdogan, Assad and Putin, just adds an extra bitterness that is even hard for Republicans to swallow. The Russian flags raised over bases in Syria that were just vacated by U.S. troops only adds to the evidence for Trump as an asset of the Kremlin.

This particular 5th Avenue-moment for Trump has finally cost him with Republicans in Congress, as a majority of the House GOP sided with Democrats to voice opposition to the move in Syria.

Trump has a history of not paying contractors, and the Kurds did the heavy lifting in the fright against ISIS, so there would be some poetic justice if his betrayal of the Kurds (not paying an important contractor) led to his downfall.

The Kurds are in the middle of 5th Avenue and Trump handed the gun to Erdogan, now we’ll see whether it costs Trump.

So Have a 5th Avenue Cocktail created by Jim Roundall and taken from Brad Parson’s great book Bittersthe 5th Avenue Cocktail is:

1.5 oz London Dry Gin (Martin Miller’s is called for, I used Ford’s)

.5 oz Dolin Blanc vermouth

1 teaspoon yellow Chartreuse

1 dash absinthe

2 dashes lemon bitters

Garnish with lemon twist

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Cheers!

China Fight!

China Fight

The King of Israel, who lost his bid for Greenland, is now telling American companies to withdraw from China after China imposed a retaliatory $75 billion in Tariffs today.

Despite the assurances of Cheeto Mussolini that Trade Wars are easy to win, the current spat with China is threatening to send the U.S. economy into recession, even though his Royal Orange Geniusness wants to blame the bad wishes of democrats. This Friday night it is definitely time to put this week of bad craziness behind us.

Despite finding out the president is the “chosen one” and the “second coming of God” he apparently couldn’t keep GOP benefactor David Koch alive or keep the Amazon from burning and worsening the climate disaster now unfolding. In all of the ridiculous unprecedented madness of the Trump era, this past week may become especially noteworthy, and I’m sure Putin was certainly enjoying himself.

As a cap for the week, and an aperitif for Americans heading into the long holiday weekend next week, have a China Fight cocktail via Saveur Magazine. It is the creation of Aymeric Tortereau, of Café Juliette in Lyon.

The China fight is:

1.5 oz cognac

.75 oz Bigallet China-China

.25 oz elderflower liqueur

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

Happy Friday, Cheers!