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!

 

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!

Endeavor to Persevere

Perseverance

Local and state governments are putting large parts of the country on lockdown. Who knew that being stuck in the house could be so tiring. With no end in sight, it is getting hard to look on the bright side of life. But my inner Terry Jones reminds me I have a fully stocked bar and lots of movie channels, so I shall endeavor to persevere. I have not reached the point where I miss the NJ Transit commute yet, but I can see that day coming. At least Gov. Murphy has allowed us to go out and take walks while practicing appropriate social distancing. That should help keep a level of sanity.

While our “leaders” in Washington look for ways to prop up stock prices, make yourself a Perseverance cocktail, because we may be here a while. Via Kindred Cocktail, the Perseverance is:

2 oz rye

.5 oz Ramazzotti

.5 oz Dubonnet Rouge

.5 oz sweet vermouth

2 dashes orange bitters

Stir over ice, strain over a large cube in a rocks glass, garnish with an orange twist.

Cheers! Stay safe!

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!

An Informed Electorate

UptoDate

Thomas jefferson is reported to have said: “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” Whether he said it or not, staying on top of the news always carried an element of civic duty. In the age of Trump, Jefferson’s admonition of it being requisite for our survival is not hyperbole. As the public hearings in the Trump Impeachment have gotten underway, both the importance and the difficulty in staying informed have been escalated. Trump’s GOP minions are doing everything they can to confuse the issues.

That is nothing new. The effort to stay informed these days is both tiring and tiresome. As one Twitter wag put it on election night a few weeks ago, “I look forward to when I don’t have to be emotionally invested in the off-year Kentucky Governor election.”

Keeping up with the news and staying informed may be a critical civic duty in the era of the Trump administration/crime family, but it’s not very pleasant medicine. Help wash it down and make the Impeachment Hearings more enjoyable with an Up-to-Date Cocktail. From Talia Baiocchi’s A Modern Guide to Sherry The Up-to-Date cocktail is:

1.25 oz amontillado sherry

1.25 oz rye

.5 oz Grand marnier

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a lemon twist

Cheers!

Full Reverse

Fallback

It should come as no surprise that a politician with an ill-defined slogan to “Make America Great Again,” would end up spending a lot of his time looking backward. Trump’s governing approach puts a lot more emphasis on “again” than “great,” so he ends up retreating from many of his own policies.

The latest came today, as Reuters reports Trump is telling advisors to calm Midwest farmers upset over the administration’s decision to allow refiners to add less ethanol into gasoline.

This comes at a time when concerns of a recession have begun to get under Trump’s skin, posing a potentially bigger threat to his presidency than impeachment. Along with the Trade War with China, the ethanol issue is just one more self-inflicted wound that is especially damaging in the Midwest, where Trump will need a strong showing to win re-election. The Washington Post reported on another key self-inflicted Midwest wound last week, citing Trump’s failure to make good on promises of expanding the Navy, which is likely to cost many jobs in Midwest shipyards and elsewhere. Really just political malpractice.

Despite strong and historically significant signals from the bond market about the potential for a recession, Trump and his minions continue to trot out echoes of President Herbert Hoover claiming our economic fundamentals are good, just as Hoover did in October of 1929.

Meanwhile, the economy, as measured by a number of factors, including job growth, is falling back to levels not seen since we began climbing out of the Great Recession. Proving that Trump is falling behind the achievements of president Obama, and Trump knows it. But his economic team does not appear up to the task of heading off, nevermind recovering from, a recession.

Backtracking for Trump isn’t limited to the economy, either. After seeming to embrace an overwhelmingly popular (supported by 90% of Americans) gun safety measure with stronger background checks, Trump is backing off and siding with the NRA again.

As Trump moves backwards on guns, and the economy moves backward to dangerous territory, have a Fallback cocktail from Sasha Petraske (originally meant for an Autumn menu but I’m as ready for a season change as a regime change at this point). The fallback is:

2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

.5 oz Amaro Nonino

.5 oz Carpano Antica

1 oz applejack

1 oz rye whiskey

orange twist garnish

Build in a whiskey glass, adding the bitters, amaro, Carpano Antica, applejack and rye add 1 large cube and stir until chilled and garnish.

Cheers!

 

A Moment’s Hesitation for the GOP

Hesitation

For a brief moment this morning it appeared Republicans might be growing a spine in response to Trump’s over-the-top racist comments about four Democratic House members. Trump himself even seemed to be walking things back by disavowing the “send her back” chant at his North Carolina rally.

Writing in The Washington Post, Greg Sargent’s article “New GOP Panic About Trump’s Racicism Reveals an Ugly Truth,” noting: “You can locate a zone of plausible deniability, in which one can claim support for such policies on pragmatic, economic or “cultural” grounds, and not out of any desire to make the United States whiter. It’s precisely this zone that Republicans now seek to inhabit.”

Even while this was happening, some GOPers had already been trying to twist the racism into some kind of Love it or Leave it approach. This now seems to be the official party line as Cheeto Mussolini himself has now come out and said “that while he’s president any criticism of the United States is unacceptable and they ‘can’t get away with’ it.

This of course stands a fundamental principle and value of the United States on its head; the right of free speech and the ability to criticize the government.

The Republican Party gave us a glimpse that maybe there is still a glimmer of GOP life in this Trump possessed shell of  a Party. Those racist attacks gave the GOP pause despite the infiltration of white supremecists. Now we’ll see if there are enough so-called Libertarian elements left in the Republican Party to push back on an assault on free speech.

There can be no impeachment of Trump without at least some portion of the GOP holding on to the principles they say they once believed in. As we wait to see if Trump’s latest outrage causes any hesitation in Republicans, or do they just keep going along, have a Hesitation cocktail. From an old blog post from Doug Ford (that I found via Kindred Cocktails), the Hesitation cocktail is:

2 oz Rittenhouse 100 Rye

1 oz Swedish Punsch (Kronan)

.25-.5 oz lemon juice

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

Cheers!

Demolition Man

Wreck

Trump and his GOP minions are once again working to end the Affordable Care Act. This continues to be one of the overriding goals of the Trump presidency. Since his installation as president, Trump has withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement and pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement. This is all part of Trump’s attempt to erase the legacy of President Obama (in fact, it is now being reported that Trump did indeed scrap the Iran deal to spite Obama), but to say this is simply part of his white supremicist fantasy belittles his role in Putin’s grand vision to dismantle the post-World War II Order established by the U.S. and Western Europe. Trump’s attacks on NATO are well documented. But his TradeWars are aimed squarely at the economic order that was being formed 75 years ago right now. The Bretton Woods Agreement that laid the foundation for global economic cooperation was negotiated in July 1944 in New Hampshire.

Trump’s racism was on full display over the weekend, from telling several U.S. Congresswomen to go back where they came from, to his Deportation Force raids targeting overnight action against immigrant communities from Latin America. (I’m sure there are no people from Russia in Brooklyn who overstayed their visas.) These raids are much less about law enforcement than fear. Not that there was any doubt, but it must be abundantly clear even to the thickest skulled “journalist” trying to “understand” Trump supporters that MAGA is about the racism, not economic anxiety.

For a Republican who wants to “Make America Great Again” and has the economy on their mind, it would be hard not to look back at the Post-War period, when the U.S. was the economic engine of the Free World, and the rules governing the international economic order where largely prepared by America, as a Golden Age, but it’s precisely this order that Trump has taken a wrecking ball to. While Cheeto Mussolini separates families to fill his for-profit concentration camps with contracts held by his buddies and his unAmerican fixation on tariffs keeps new appliances like washers and dryers too expensive for most Americans, have a Home Wrecker Cocktail and make your plan to vote against Trump and everyone who supports him. Via Cocktail Virgin, the Home Wrecker is:

1 1/2 oz Old Overholt Rye
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz St. Germain
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Cheers

American Value

Treasure

Notwithstanding the inhumane detention of refugees at the southern border, or Trump’s Soviet-style military parade usurpation of Independence Day, perhaps one of the most unAmerican developments of this era has been the complete rejection of democracy by the Republican party.

As the oldest democracy in the world, how the U.S. conducted its democratic politics was once a model, and the standard against which other democracies were judged. But today, one party, the Republicans, are actively working against the operation of democracy by suppressing the vote. Adding a citizenship question to the census is just one tactic. Despite a court order to remove the question, Trump is now looking to reinstate it as part of the census, in just another show of his disregard for the rule of law. The court order against Trump’s desire comes even as Republicans do everything they can to remove independence from the Judiciary by picking judges to pack the courts with those synpathetic to GOP policies. One place that has worked for them is in their ability to keep picking their voters through Gerrymandering.

The ridiculously partisan Gerrymandering has damaged the structure of our democracy, to the point where votes cast in a legislative election can clearly give a majority to the democrats but Republicans still gain a majority of seats. In a show of force better than Trump’s military parade, both Mother Jones and The Washington Monthly profiled groups fighting back against the GOP Gerrymandering machine this week.

The undermining of our representative democracy is not new, and I have written about it here, here, and here. If we can rebuild representation in our government, then we can rebuild our democracy, restoring the value we once brought to the world. Removing the stain of Trump won’t be easy, but rebuilding our democratic institutions will help. On this Independence day, have a National Treasure cocktail and remember what we have always treasured as Americans (and it’s not tanks on parade). Via Frederic Yarm @cocktailvirgin the national Treasure is:

.75 oz Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse Bonded)
.5 oz Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
.5 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Martini Gran Lusso)
.5 oz Campari
,25 oz Cynar

Cheers!

The Ignominious End of the American Century

1919

We have now unequivocally reached the end of the American Century. The term was coined by Henry Luce, founder of Time, Life and Fortune magazines, in February 1941 as an argument against U.S. isolationism and for American leadership in the world. While Luce was clearly looking at the war that would soon come to be know as World War II, he sought to replace British global leadership with an American model, and in this, he was clearly looking back to Woodrow Wilson and the arguments used in bringing America into WWI. Wilson’s 14 Points and “Making the World Safe for Democracy” had also helped to establish the post-WWI order.

By contrast, the American President today cozies up to the world’s authoritarian dictators who are not interested in safe places for democracy, and Trump’s America First is antithetical to global leadership as Luce envisioned it. In addition, of course, is the situation at the border where the administration separates refugee children from their families and detains them in inhumane conditions. In less than a generation we have moved from going to war with people who “Hate us for our freedom,” to denying freedom to refugees. The Atlantic Monthly had called the end of the American Century shortly after Trump’s inauguration in late January 2017. I mentioned it a little later here, with my favorite WWI cocktail, the Sidecar.

Even if not for Trump’s dismantling of the world order built largely to U.S. specifications after WWII (as Luce had hoped for), this weekend on June 28, we will see the 100-year anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles that formally ended WWI, incorporating many of the ideals pushed by President Wilson and putting the U.S. into a global leadership role. But that century, chronologically, is up now too.

The Treaty of Versailles is famously not without its faults. Although there is growing dispute among historians about the treaty’s punitive approach to Germany being directly responsible for WWII, we are still living today with the mess it created of the Middle East.

When we get past the time of Trump and Putin’s adventurism and look to rebuild the world order it will look different than it has since the end of WWII. While you sit back to contemplate what that order may look like, have a 1919 cocktail and keep your fingers crossed they can avoid the mistakes of Paris during that summer 100 years ago.

The cocktail comes from Drink in Boston and the recipe via Cocktail Virgin. The drink origins have nothing to do with the Treaty, but another mistake of that year, the start of Prohibition. The 1919 is:

.75 oz Rittenhouse Rye

.75 oz Old Monk rum

1 oz Punt e Mes

.5 oz Benedictine

1 dash Bittermen’s Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Cheers!