Sun Stealer

Sun Stealer

During a brief window of time today, the vast majority of Americans will focus their attention on something other than Donald Trump. Never fear, though, Cheeto Mussolini has scheduled a nationally televised announcement about Afghanistan later to regain the spotlight.

The Total Solar Eclipse brings a wealth of metaphor today, from darkness spreading across the United States to my ISO-approved star-spangled solar eclipse glasses emblazoned with the logo American Eclipse 2017. The moon blotting out the sun is actually not the first time in the past seven months that Trump has not been the center of attention.

The brilliant Amy Siskind, who is chronicling all of the things that are changing under the Trump regime, has noted how the events in Charlottesville last week had sidelined Trump’s ability to control the headlines. Siskind tweeted:

“Starting Saturday in Charlottesville, for the first time in a long time, Trump lost the narrative. He is no longer driving the news cycle with his palace drama or North Korea or Venezuela or his random shiny coin for the day — the American people are driving the narrative. … This is not sustainable for him. … One of two things will happen next: he will continue to crumble under the weight of awakening by decent American people of what brought Trump into power (other than Russia). This is not our country. Or, he may throw a shinier coin — this prospect scares me — to distract again and take back the narrative.”

Of course, Trump tossed that shinier coin and stole back the narrative with his praise for the “very fine people” amongst the Nazis and white supremacists.

The onslaught of outrages from Trump is constantly eclipsing the previous offense. It has only been 13 days since Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury,” and 12 days since we learned that the FBI had raided the home of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort as part of Robert Mueller’s Russian election interference investigation.

As Trump heads to TV tonight in the wake of the eclipse, obscuring the planned Paul Ryan Town Hall meeting on CNN, it’s time for the very appropriate Sun Stealer cocktail. The only real question now is, how’s it going to end.

Via Kindred Cocktail, the Sun Stealer is:

2 oz gin

.75 oz Punt e Mes

.25 oz Creme de Cacao

.25 oz Fernet Branca

1 dash orange bitters

lemon twist as garnish

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish.

Cheers!

The Day After

Dawn

The day after Cheeto Mussolini rekindled for Cold War survivors the existential dread of nuclear annihilation, we’re still here.

During a briefing the other day, Trump made his remarks about how North Korea would be met with “fire and fury…the likes of which the world has never seen before” if they continue to threaten the U.S.

For all of his live tweeting of Fox News, the “fire and fury” comment seems to suggest Trump spends time on HBO as well. It’s just not yet clear whether he was all aped up over the Game of Thrones Dragon Battle scene, or he was watching reruns of the Wire and grabbed the line from the Blind Boys of Alabama.

To distract from the tightening noose of the Mueller Russia investigation (and the revelation that the FBI raided former aide Paul Manafort’s home), Trump is poking at the historically unstable Kim Jong Un and the North Korean regime.

If there’s any silver lining it’s that he is not more subtle and clever in creating the Reichstag fire he needs.

Trump’s aides were trying to downplay his remarks – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days.” Nevertheless, president little hands was touting his big arsenal again this morning.

At least the sun did come up again for humanity today, so celebrate with a Golden Dawn cocktail. According to Dr. Cocktail Ted Haigh, the drink was named for the 1930 film adaptation of a Rogers and Hammerstein operetta. As Haigh put it:

“This was one spectacularly bad movie, replete with a singing Noah Beery in blackface, songs with titles like ‘My Bwana’ and ‘Hymn to Domestic Violence,’ in an all-singing two-strip Technicolor musical about prisoners of war in colonial Africa.”

Seems appropriate, and of course the more modern connotation with the Greek ultranationalist neo-Nazi party, which also seems to fit with the Trump effect.

From Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails the Golden Dawn is:

.75 oz Calvados (or apple jack)

.75 oz dry gin

.75 oz apricot brandy (or liqueur)

.75 oz orange juice

Shake vigorously over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a stemless cherry dropped into the glass and dribble a little pomegranate grenadine through the drink.

Cheers to another morning!

 

 

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!

Never Forget

Elephants

Memorial Day weekend is here, signifying the unofficial start of summer. Amidst the barbecues and ball games, many people will take time to recognize the real reason for the day off work; a time of remembrance for the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our liberty.

It was 149 years ago the day, then called Decoration Day, was officially recognized, formalizing a tradition that began almost immediately after the Civil War. It was designated as May 30, as it was not the anniversary of any specific battle. After World War I, like they did across Europe, poppies became a symbol of the day of remembrance, a reference to the poem “In Flanders Fields.” In 1971, Decoration Day became Memorial Day, and in 2000 a National Moment of Remembrance was designated for 3 p.m.

Although it grew from the division of the Civil War, Memorial Day has united Americans for generations. But today our divisions are again at a heightened level. For that first “Memorial Day,” the commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, General John Logan, issued an order that read in part:

“We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, ‘of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.’ What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds.”

Unfortunately, two weeks ago, the would-be heirs to that rebellion took to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, with torches (OK, Wal-Mart tiki torches, but still) to protest the removal of monuments to the treason that ended 150 years ago while chanting “Russia is our friend.” (In perhaps the speech of the year, New Orleans Mayor Landrieau spoke of the need to remove those Confederate monuments.)

The chant, of course, was meant as a show of support for President Trump who is facing growing investigations into whether his campaign worked with the Russians to influence the 2016 election. Much has happened since those chants, but it was quite clear then that — with or without Trump collusion — the Russians had attacked us and our electoral process through at least some role in hacking the DNC and through a coordinated disinformation campaign using social media.

Since then, and particularly in the past week, there have been many new troubling revelations. Most damning was The Washington Post story that Trump son-in-law and top advisor Jared Kushner had tried to set up a secret communication channel with the Russians in a way designed to evade U.S. intelligence during the transition.

Also in The Washington Post, columnist Jennifer Rubin outlines the past week and the rot at the core of Trump and Congressional Republicans.

“Conventional wisdom says that Trump executed a hostile takeover of the GOP. What we have seen this week suggests a friendly merger has taken place. Talk radio hosts have been spouting misogyny and anti-immigrant hysteria for years; Trump is their ideal leader, not merely a flawed vehicle for their views. Fox News has been dabbling in conspiracy theories (e.g. birtherism, climate-change denial) for decades; now Republicans practice intellectual nihilism. Nearly every point of criticism raised against the left — softness on foreign aggressors, irresponsible budgeting, identity politics, executive overreach, contempt for the rule of law, infantilizing voters — has become a defining feature of the right.”

Even today, the Post reported the Trump family ostensibly outside of government is working with GOP leaders to discuss strategy.

The dysfunction all of this this has caused in our government is beyond what Vladimir Putin could have asked for. It was one thing to see a weakening of NATO, a Russian aim for more than half a century, but the utter chaos in Washington today is paying dividends we may not fully understand for years.

Don’t get me wrong, we still have much more to learn to know whether the Trump campaign actively worked with Russia and whether there are traitors in the White House. This could be a continuation of Russian disinformation. What is troubling, however, is the way Republicans, particularly in Congress, seem more concerned about power than getting to the bottom of Russian interference in our elections.

Perhaps it should not be surprising from a party that has worked for years to suppress the vote of anyone who might be considered an opponent. As we saw again this past week when the Supreme Court struck down North Carolina’s racially Gerrymandered districts.

In The Washington Monthly, John Stoehr wrote that Mitch McConnell and Vladimir Putin want the same thing. He said that the GOP will have to be held accountable:

“Trump’s sins are their sins. If he is Putin’s useful idiot, it stands to reason that so are the Republicans.

And they can start by leaning on Mitch McConnell. Former CIA Director John Brennan told a Senate panel Tuesday that: ‘I was aware of intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in Trump campaign.’ Under testimony, he told lawmakers that he informed leading Senators from both parties about what was happening. From that discussion, according to a December Washington Post story, the Obama administration hoped to present a bipartisan united front against Russian interference. But McConnell said no.

The Post reported that: ‘He would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.’ McConnell’s decision was partisan politics. And the Russians were made part of the Republican Party.

Quite literally, Putin’s priorities were the Republicans’.”

There are some Republicans concerned about the direction of the party under Trump. Joe Scarborough, for example, called Trump’s NATO speech a “love letter to Putin” and went on a rant Friday about how the GOP has lost its way.

This weekend, as we take time to remember those that put our country above everything else to secure our freedoms, we hope that the leaders of the GOP put country over party to defend the U.S. against foreign aggression.

We must never forget the sacrifices made on our behalf, but tonight I am drinking an Elephants Sometimes Forget cocktail. Via Kindred Cocktail, it is:

1 oz gin

.75 Cherry Heering

.75 lemon juice

.25 dry vermouth

1 dash orange bitters

Shake, strain into a cocktail glass straight up.

Cheers!

Vive la France!

75

Today, France delivered a major victory in the fight against resurgent fascism with the landslide election of Emmanuel Macron over Marine Le Pen.

The Washington Post set the scene well, saying:

The anti-E. U. French leader Marine Le Pen’s larger-than-expected defeat Sunday in her nation’s presidential election was a crushing reality check for the far-right forces who seek to overthrow Europe…Given one choice after another since Trump’s U.S. presidential victory, Western European voters have delivered mainstream candidates to office despite a post-November sense that an anti-immigrant populist wave was washing over the Western world. Far-right candidates in Austria, the Netherlands and France have faltered.

Many battles remain, but in keeping with yesterday’s post, let’s have a drink to keeping the world safe for democracy for another day. In this case, the World War I inspired cocktail is the French 75.

In yesterday’s post, I quoted from President Wilson’s address to Congress seeking a declaration of war against Germany, using the famous part about making the world safe for democracy. However, Wilson’s closing is also important, and also echoes the aspirations we need today:

It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts—for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.

To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other.

This speech was 100 years ago, yet here we are again.

The origin story of the French 75 varies between being developed at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, or by soldiers in the field looking for something refreshing to drink. Like its namesake cannon (the one used by Harry Truman’s outfit) the drink is smooth, but packs a wallop.

The recipe as taken from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh, aka Dr. Cocktail, is:

2 oz gin

1 oz lemon juice

2 tsp sugar or 1 tsp simple syrup

Champagne

Shake gin, lemon juice and sugar over ice, pour into a champagne flute or collins glass, top with Champagne, stir gently and add lemon peel garnish.

Cheers!

Demonize and Distract

Satan

Quite a day for Trump spokesman Sean Spicer yesterday. While attempting to defend Trump’s ill-conceived and ineffective airstrikes in Syria, Spicer (in the way only NPR could describe it) “overlooked the Holocaust.”

Saying that Hitler didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons in World War II as proof of the need to bomb Syria drew a response from the White House briefing room. As the New York Times reported:

Asked to clarify his remarks, Mr. Spicer then acknowledged that Hitler had used      chemical agents, but maintained that there was a difference.

“I think when you come to sarin gas, he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing,” Mr. Spicer said, incorrectly, before mentioning “Holocaust centers,” an apparent reference to Nazi death camps.

This brought about a clamor on social media that threatened to drown out the United Airlines re-accommodated passenger story, and brought calls for Spicer to be fired. Spicey, though, wasn’t finished. He went on CNN to apologize for the remarks, but he said he did not want his comments on Hitler to distract from Trump’s attempts “to destabilize the region.”

It just feels like there’s a Freudian slip in here. It is hard to believe the level of stupidity and incompetence we have seen from the Administration, so it is only natural to believe this is part of some master plan of deception and distraction.

The Washington Post story that the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to monitor former Trump adviser Carter Page only fed the idea that Trump needs to distract us from what is seeping out about his campaign’s collusion with Russia during the election.

Applying Occam’s Razor, however, the more likely explanation is that Spicer simply bungled his Hitler reference (owing to an already apparent tentative grasp on history), which was made in service of justifying a bungled response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons by using the well-worn playbook of demonizing your enemy.

The author of that playbook, Lucifer, just kicked back, twirled his mustache, and awaited some new arrivals. As the demonizations continue, the rest of us can kick back with a Satan’s Whiskers cocktail to see whether Spicer gets fired, or was just following orders. The recipe via Brad Thomas Parson’s Bitters is:

.5 oz gin

.5 oz sweet vermouth

.5 oz dry vermouth

.5 oz orange juice

.25 oz orange curaçao

3 dashes orange bitters

Shake over ice, strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass, garnish with an orange twist

Cheers!

Greatest Show On Earth

Barnum

Exactly seven weeks from today, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus will bring an end to nearly a century and a half of entertainment as its tours conclude and it folds its tents one last time.

Never fear, though, the calliope plays on in Washington D.C. After the GOP primary clown car of 17 major candidates, we elected Donald Trump to make sure the circus would continue.

Trump can draw a line from the great showman P.T. Barnum, who started with his American Museum in downtown New York City in 1841 and revolutionized the circus by adding the freak show. Meanwhile, Trump continues to fill out his cabinet. As Trump settles the $25 million lawsuit over Trump University, we can be reminded of the saying P.T. Barnum is famously credited with, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

And as we see Nick Kristof’s report in the New York Times today, “In Trump Country, Shock at Trump Budget Cuts, but Still Loyalty,” the obvious drink tonight is the Barnum (Was Right) Cocktail.

Pulled from Dr. Cocktail Ted Haigh’s book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails: From the Alamagoozlum to the Zombie and Beyond, the drink was clearly in reference to Barnum’s sucker quote. As the cocktail is a slight variation on a Pegu Club cocktail, and similar to others such as the Barbara West Cocktail, Haigh said cocktail patrons inevitably would find themselves muttering; “Hey! This is nothing but a blah blah cocktail with a little blah blah in it! Barnum was right!

2 oz gin

1 oz apricot brandy (Haigh suggests Marie Brizard’s Apry)

.5 oz fresh lemon juice

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Shake over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with a lemon twist.

Cheers!