The inebriationist in Paris (cont’d)


Our correspondent reports from the world’s most beautiful city:


Day 2 from Paris: Gout attack. Hobbling home from the Latin quarter we stopped at the River Seine where they were preparing to film a daring movie scene in which a motorcyclist drove along the bank of the river with a car chasing close behind. The bike started to wobble, then it fell sending the man and the motorcycle careening into the river. People ran frantically to the river side to pull the injured driver ashore as the bike sank to the bottom. The silhouette of a very large fish was illuminated by the sunken headlights of the lost motorcycle. Just another day in Paris.


It is our hope that our correspondent will recovery completely from gout complications and regale us with stories of inebriation and ineptitude.  Stay tuned.

Friday Happy Hour: Daiquiri


Ok, kids.  Figured that every Friday would be perfect timing for a little Happy Hour cocktail segment.  So look forward to a post every Friday celebrating a few of my favorite classic cocktails.

As the weather starts to brighten up and spring takes over Kansas City, I thought it was perfect time for one of my favorite warm-weather classic: the Daiquiri.

First off, let’s set the record straight.   An original Daiquiri isn’t frozen.  It isn’t fruity, either.  And I certainly wouldn’t serve the thing with a parasol.  It’s an easy recipe that, like so many other classics, is still so easy to screw up royally.

Things you’ll need:

White rum: I love Appleton (from Jamaica), Don Q (from Puerto Rico), or Mount Gay (from Barbados); but when it comes down to it, it’s your cocktail at the end of the day, so make it with what you will.

Sugar: superfine white sugar typically works best.  Because it’s a finer grain, it emulsifies easier in cocktails.  And if you can’t get your hands on the stuff, making a 1:1 simple syrup with your typical granulated white sugar will work just fine.  I prefer the superfine sugar because it tends to lend the cocktail a sherbet-like quality that isn’t the same with simple syrup.

Limes: always pick smaller limes that aren’t too firm.  If you squeeze them in your hand, they should feel juicy, not like a golf ball.

Tools: 3-piece shaker or Boston shaker set.  Hawthorne strainer (the one with the bunny ears).  Hand juicer.  Cocktail spoon.  Jigger.

Ok, we’ve got all we need to mix us a Daiquiri.  The recipe is simple:

2oz white rum

2 barspoons superfine sugar (or 1oz simple syrup)

1oz fresh squeezed lime juice

Combine lime juice and sugar in your mixing glass or 3 piece shaker.  Stir together until sugar starts to emulsify.  Add rum and fill with ice. Cap and shake well for at least ten seconds.  Strain into a cocktail glass or serve over crushed ice or cubes.

Always remember: these recipes aren’t set in stone. Feel free to tweak them to your personal tastes.  All these recipes will be geared towards my personal tastes, because, well, this is my blog.

Hope you enjoy as much as I do.  I love how simple, bright, and refreshing this old Cuban beauty is. And as the weather warms up, this puppies are perfect on the deck.  And considering you only need a few things to make this happen and relatively easy cleanup, they are great poolside.

Crybabies on Wall Street

photo credit HITC

There’s been a full- fledged attack from certain news sources harping on about the role of real estate in the crash of 2008.  A lot of it is valid.  But what’s being pushed under the rug is the shadow banking industry that took a busted bubble recession and turned it into a depression on par with the Great Depression.  Were it not for extreme government intervention, the damage would have been astronomical.

And the financial sector, in the wake of such a massive blow to our economy, has escaped relatively unscathed.  Major financial regulation overhaul isn’t on the table, even in the extremely long and complex legislation known as Frank-Dodd.  And here’s the kicker: Wall Streeters are crying about how rough life after the crash has been.

To me, this just shows how isolated and convoluted the realities of these people are.  It’s alarming.  And it’s further evidence of a growing divide in our country and politics: those who suffer from a cut in bonuses that exceed six figures vs those who lost their jobs, homes, and retirements. It also underscores an odd sense of entitlement for those in the upper income tax bracket.

Until we come to grips with the fact that the middle class is the engine that powers the economy and that their purchasing power makes our economy diverse and robust, this divide will only get worse and our economy more anemic.  Stagnant wages for the majority of the working class is far more worrying than the deficit. Now if only the crybabies on Wall Street and politicians on the Hill could come to terms with it.


Kansas: a great place for basketball, but I wouldn’t want to live there

Getty Images

Looks like our neighbors next door are at it again.  In their unbridled zealotry to end abortion, our GOP dominated, Christ-loving neighbors have introduced yet another bit of legislation aimed at narrowing a female’s options in regards to reproductive rights.

Last year, Kansas State Legislature tried to enact a law to place restrictions upon where a woman could have an abortion. Certain aspects of the law actually placed specifications as to the dimensions of the rooms that doctors could see patients intended to shut down clinics that provide the service. Federal Courts soon challenged the law resulting in its suspension.

And now the introduction of a sweeping reform into this process has been introduced.  Not to mention its clearly nefarious regulation of the practice of abortion, it also includes misinformation linking abortions and breast cancer.

And all this in the face of an ethics case against former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline and a settlement for sexual discrimination which has cost tax payers a pretty penny.

Why are Kansas’s politicians so eager to fight battles that have been decided for decades? Well, it fires up voters and distracts them from the real issues at hand.  If legislators used half the time bickering about abortion and put it towards solving big inconsistencies in performance in its public schools, we’d all be the better for it.  But instead we deal with yet another blow to womens’ reproductive rights and the rights of those who work to provide them.

Which brings me to a bigger topic.  Are women feeling ostracized by the Republican party? Between zealots and misogynists, the ladies have got to be feeling the squeeze.  It’s hard to fathom that this debate still rages on in our modern world: that regulating the choices women make about their bodies is fair ground for government.  But it seems to have an unlikely champion in an institution that’s no more than a front for small government.


Women in the bar business

I had planned on writing about Super Tuesday today, but I came across an article that struck a chord with me in Class Magazine, an industry publication.

Believe it or not, I am actually in the bar business, not politics or economics; although those are two of my favorite hobbies. It’s a demanding, yet rewarding, job/career that I rather enjoy.  The booze, the people, the art: what’s there not to love?

And in my opinion, it’s a profession that doesn’t elicit the respect it deserves.  Anyone who’s done time behind the stick knows how difficult it is to remain congenial and hospitable while faced with the drunken masses.  It definitely requires immense amounts of patience, study, professionalism and a good deal of athleticism, not to mention acting as a poor man’s therapist.  The hours are long, the work is hard, and we bartenders depend upon the kindness of our patrons to make a living.  To be honest, it’s downright stressful.

But the piece by Jamie MacDonald and Sam Fish highlights a trend that is prevalent across our profession: the lack of female bartenders, especially within the craft cocktail scene.  Jamie makes an argument that women should be ‘nurtured’ in our work environment.  The sentiment seems to (and I’m sure somewhat unintentionally) lend credence to women needing what Sam refers to as a ‘crutch.’

Personally, I’m totally with Sam on this one.  The women in our business should be celebrated and treated as equals in our work environment.  Now that I just read that last sentence, I can’t really believe that even has to be said in this day and age.  But that certainly doesn’t mean they need to be coddled.

If one looks at some of the leading people in the bar business, you come across names like Julie Reiner, Charlotte Voisey, and Aisha Sharpe.  And maybe we’re a bit better at promoting this than the guys across the pond. Point in fact: Speed Rack.

Some of my favorite bartenders I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with have been female.  The dynamic behind the bar can be completely different with a lady tending alongside me.  And at Manifesto, the bar I currently run in Kansas City, we prefer having females on staff alongside the fellas.

But work ethic, creativity, attention to detail, endurance, and hospitality know no gender.  These are the aspects we celebrate at Manifesto; and be it man or woman, if you exhibit those qualities, how far you go or what you do with them is up to them.  I can only hope the same could be said at every other joint in the biz.

I’m not so naive to think that all things are equal everywhere.  And I’m not going to speculate as to why more ladies don’t enter our field.  But the ones that do should at the least be offered a fair shake by the rest of us, be it competing in cocktail competitions, or just slingin’ beers on a Friday night.  Show some respect.

It’s the economy, stupid.

Some things never change... even when they should.

For the last half a year, the media and others, some rightly, some not so much, have been lambasting President Obama over a slow economy.  Some, myself included, realize that a slowly growing economy is a sign of the political quagmire that has enthralled the Hill since Pres. Obama took office.  So while things could have been a whole lot better, say if Republicans came back to planet earth and realized that austerity is a sure way to ensure a deeper recession that would be much tougher to climb out of; they could have also been a whole lot worse were it not for the stimulus package put forth by the administration (again, the stimulus was far too small, but politically difficult considering the GOP’s overwhelming obstructionism).

But suddenly all this doesn’t really seem to matter. Maybe it’s the candidacy of Rick Santorum.  Maybe it’s Mitt Romney desperate attempts to sway social conservatives in his favor.  But suddenly this election has become a referendum on religion in politics and contraception.  And the GOP’s determination to turn Planned Parenthood into an abortion factory has the chance to turn everyone’s attention away from the true matter at hand: the economy.

The Economist has a wonderful article about how American politics (contrary to the GOP’s beliefs) since Kennedy’s speech on religion and politics, God’s place in political dialogue has not become marginalized; instead it has become de rigueur.

But what does this say about the economic side of the debate?  Are the Republicans ceding that the economy is on stronger footing? Are they afraid that the economy is now something Pres. Obama can stump on with confidence?  Or are they just having trouble keeping their eye on the ball?

And is this American public willing to hear the same old bullshit debate over something so commonly practiced as contraception? Something tells me this isn’t going to go over well, especially in a general election.

Either way, the GOP seems to have neglected any lesson learned from the McCain/Palin pasting. And as many households want to hear more concrete plans of how to get Americans back to work, the closest any GOP candidate can offer is lower corporate taxes? Pretty lame stuff.

It’s becoming more and more obvious how out of touch the Republican party was in the last Presidential election cycle.  It now seems to have gotten even worse.

Manifesto 2012

As exhibited by our quick look at the candidates, this presidential field is beyond weak. The Prez has left himself surprisingly vulnerable to this mashed-up bag of GOP disasters. It’s enough to make a political junky half-excited for what promises to be a most interesting election year while making me half-depressed to endure what is sure to be a mountain of bullshit rhetoric.

So I figured, ‘What the hell? We, the United States of America, deserve better.  And I’m sick of bitching about it. It’s time for action!”

Which is where Manifesto comes in.

If you didn’t know already, I run a little basement bar in Kansas City.  We have a pretty devout Facebook following, largely due to the ridiculousness of our status updates.  The bar itself is a full-fledged, attention-to-detail-oriented cocktail bar that, at first glance, delicately dances on the fence of snooty.  But we do our best to remind people that we are just a bunch of people inviting some friends over to their bar to have a good time.  And Facebook, in a weird way, allows us to keep things light.

So the other day, somewhat out of frustration, I announced on the Manifesto Facebook page that we, Manifesto, would be running for President of the United States of America.  And so far, it’s gotten off to a great start.

First things first (especially in this modern world of politics), we realized we needed a Super-PAC to take on the Mitt Romney machine.  So the Association to Stop Sobriety, also known as ASS-PAC, was born.  Not to mention that this fits in nicely with the War on Sobriety we’ve been waging in the basement for a few years now.  And hopefully with some cajoling, we’ll find someone to run the thing.

Well, the race is on.  And do yourself a favor and vote for Manifesto in 2012!