Pairs Well With: Your Weekend Conversation and Drinking Guide

By: Jason Smith

Oh hey a cool old photo of dudes having a beer at a ba–OH MY GOD IS THAT A BABY.

Last week I gave you all the weekend off from great drink and conversation because it was Easter. Sadly, the way I think Christians ought to celebrate Easter has yet to really catch on — you have a ‘feast’ in which the wine flows like it did at that wedding in Cana where Jesus straight up made more/better wine for folks to get sloshed upon. Be that as it may, I had stuff to do so I missed a week. Sorry.

Now back to the drank!

The Drink: Moscow Mule

This may surprise you but up until very recently Vodka had to work very hard to gain a foothold in the US. The reasoning behind this lack of love for the potato-based libation is not that shocking once you think about it: we were in a Cold War with Russia basically from the end of WWII until the fall of the Soviet Union in the late 80’s. Not really a huge market for a liquor that is seen to be fundamentally Russian.

Luckily things didn’t stay that way for long and I say its luck for two reasons: First, because this drink is incredible. Second, because the campaign to make vodka more popular gave us this little beauty of an ad…

Now, to the drink.

First things first you need a particular sort of glassware for this drink, even though it isn’t technically glass at all. Traditionally, a Moscow Mule is served in a copper mug like the one pictured below.

Do you have to serve your mule in such an awesome looking piece of instrumental glory?

No.

But your pallet deserves a pretty vehicle, in my opinion.

Anyways, after you have this awesome mug things get really simple.

The Recipe:

Fill your mug/old-fashioned glass with ice.

Pour good vodka (or Gin, if you hate Vodka) until you’ve got about 2 oz. or so in there (you can add more, but beware).

Squeeze about half to three quarters of a lime’s juice over the vodka.

Top with good quality ginger beer (Stoli makes a good brew, also Crabbie’s is excellent).

BIG CAVEAT: Your ginger beer should be beer therefore it should be alcoholic. Don’t bring any of that souped-up ginger soda to the party. Come with the real stuff or stay at home.

Some things you can do to take your mule to the next level:

– I enjoy a dash or two of Angostura Bitters. I add them before anything else goes into the mug.

– If you for reals love ginger try adding some of the pickled ginger you get at your favorite sushi restaurant into the bottom of your mug. Mull it with Ango Bitters like you would the fruit in an Old-Fashioned.

Stir your exceptional libation and sip, but not too slowly as this drink is on ice and will soon become watery swill if you wait too long.

What to Talk About: COMMUNISM!

I mean, come on, you saw this coming, right?

Anyways, take some time to talk about communism. Here are some possible topics:

1. Communism looks really good “on paper” but hasn’t been all that successful in application. Do you think it can really work? Do you think it would be more just than capitalism if it could?

2. Remember that whole Red Scare thing where Joseph McCarthy was accusing almost everyone of being a secret Communist agent? Well, it turns out there actually were Communist spies in our country. What is an acceptable amount of “investigation” that doesn’t lead to a “witch-hunt”? If this doesn’t get you talking about Edward Snowden then check out this amazing Last Week Tonight bit to get you in the mood….

 

Next up is a drink that my favorite Priest in the world (yes, you read that correctly) makes incredibly well. I’m honestly not fully convinced that he doesn’t perform some sort of sacramental blessing over this cocktail to make it so mind-blowingly tasty.

The Drink: Perfect Manhattan

[This is a clip from “Some Like It Hot.” If it wasn’t obvious, yes that is Marilyn Monroe and, yes, the other character is a dude dressed in drag. You should really watch that movie as its a great classic comedy. Also they say “Manhattan” so it was going into the article.]

Sometimes you get tired of just drinking straight bourbon. There I said it. It will happen to you like it has happened to all of us. Sometimes you just want to do something new with everyone’s favorite spirit.

BUT DON’T EVER LET THAT SOMETHING BE MIXING IT WITH F***ING COKE, YOU HEATHENS.

Sorry. Let me try again. To each his own. If you like bourbon and Coke then fine (BUT WHYYYYY), but expand your horizon a little bit.

Try mixing bourbon and vermouth.

The Recipe:

I’ll admit that the Manhattan is hit and miss for me. I don’t particularly care for vermouth so any mishap in the proportions will lead to a big waste of bourbon. Hence, its probably better to try a good but not great brand of bourbon to start off. I’d recommend something like Willet, Bulleit, or Buffalo Trace. Leave the Woodford for Old-Fashioned’s. But try and stay above the Jim Beam fault line.

Now, you may be wondering why this particular Manhattan is dubbed perfect. “Perfect” in cocktail lingo just means an equal combination of dry and sweet vermouth rather than just one or the other. This keeps some of the cloyingly sweet flavor of the vermouth from taking over the drink.

Pour the following into a cocktail shaker filled with ice:

- 2 oz Bourbon

1/2 oz. dry vermouth

1/2 oz. sweet vermouth

2 dashes of Angostura bitters (DO NOT LEAVE THESE OUT. THEY ARE AWESOME)

Put the lid on your shaker and shake until the shaker gets all frosty-like and what not.

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Add a maraschino cherry.

Enjoy.

What to Talk About: Bucket Lists

Bucket lists shouldn’t be solely for that period of time right before you die. Live your life people. In this case I’d suggest you rally off a couple of bucket lists.

1. Since bourbon is from Kentucky and the Kentucky Derby is on my Sports Bucket List — what are your must see sporting events? If you don’t like sports then just limit that to your must attend events? (p.s. – the Derby should prob still be on your list anyway.)

2. Sometimes “living your life” isn’t just about doing a lot of traveling around. It can be about experiencing certain things you’ve always wanted to experience but haven’t gotten around to yet. To that end I’d say make a Bucket List with your friends that involves one of the following: books, movies, music, art. Obviously your list can include any and all of these elements. If you choose movies I think we have quite a few articles that can help you pick some good ones.

 

Happy Weekend!

xoxo

Jason

 

teddychild

Dear Fathers, Don’t Be the Second String Parent

By: Andy Crawford

One day last December I had a day off work, so I spent it taking my 1 year-old daughter to the mall to do some Christmas shopping for my wife/her mom.

Of course, taking a small child anywhere requires quite an effort. I had to pack the stroller, make sure the diaper bag was stocked with all of the essentials, and be sure I left at a time that fit in with her nap schedule. I also needed to have a few toys in the car to entertain her during the 20 minute ride, as well as some backup music in case things got really out of hand (the girl loves Meghan Trainor and Taylor Swift).

Now, no father-daughter trip to the mall is complete without a stop at the food court for a snack. This particular day it consisted of Chic-Fil-A. I managed to negotiate the stroller and a tray of peanut-oil fried goodness through the sea of tables and clusters of mall-rat teens entranced in their iPhones to find a small table. I located a highchair nearby, and wiped it and the table down for nasty mall germs. It was at this point that I began to notice I attracted the attention of several patrons sitting around me….all women.

I made eye contact with one, a middle-aged lady probably in her 40s, and she smiled and complimented me on my preparedness with the disinfecting wipes. I responded with a joke about how my daughter has enough germs without collecting others, and we shared a standard small-talk with a stranger laugh. Then, as she got up to leave, the woman said, “My husband would never have dared to take our children out by himself.”

This is a sentiment I’ve heard several times in the now sixteen months I’ve been a father. And yet, I’m surprised each time I hear it.

Gentlemen, we have a problem.

Apparently, there is a widespread belief among ladies that fathers are somehow second rate parents. We aren’t responsible enough to care for our young children. We don’t have the foresight to anticipate our child’s needs even during a simple afternoon out. We can’t manage the intricate tasks of bathing, feeding, playing, and otherwise caring for our own flesh and blood.

As I know several excellent fathers, I’m not sure exactly where this image comes from. I definitely know of a few dads who relegate themselves to the backbench. When one’s wife goes out of town for a night, the kids are taken to the mother-in-law’s house.

It’s also possible some men simply go with the flow, and become the second class parent by sheer passivity. My wife is a very proactive person, and is usually a step ahead of me in most things. She’s always a step ahead of me in knowing when our daughter should begin to transition from two naps to one, or from baby food to solid food. But I still have my say, and we make these decisions together. But, maybe some couples don’t do that.

Lastly, there is an archetype of the dumb, bumbling, or aloof dad that we see throughout the media. Consider Three Men and a Baby, Kevin Arnold’s dad in The Wonder Years, or the one and only, Homer J. Simpson.

A picture of me taking my newborn daughter out for a stroll.

Me taking my daughter out for a stroll.

Really, it doesn’t matter where the notion that a father can’t take care of his child comes from. What matters is that you, dear reader, don’t relegate yourself to being a second-string parent. Don’t stand on the proverbial sideline like a Bubby Brister, Elvis Grbac, Jon Kitna, or Johnny Manziel. Your wife and child deserve a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady.

Parenting, despite modern notions to the contrary, is a two person job. Don’t force the pressure of providing for the constant well-being of your child onto your wife.

Other than being able to provide breastmilk, there’s nothing your wife can do for your child that you can’t do as well. You can change diapers, administer medicine, give a bath, prepare food, and generally entertain your child just as well as she can.

Don’t be lazy. Don’t be passive. Don’t be worried about making a mistake.

Be sure to be an engaged and caring father. Do it for your little progeny and your wife. And, maybe just for fun, do it to surprise random people at the mall.

Andy absolutely loves being a dad, but he and his wife often settle dirty diaper and bath time duty with a simple “rock, paper, scissors” competition. He usually wins.

SavingGrace

A Lawyer’s Perspective: The Religious Freedom Restoration Act Explained in Plain English

By: Andy Crawford

There’s been a lot of confusion and conflicting reports about Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. I’m going to do my best to explain this in the most simple and unbiased terms as possible. Excuse me if some legalese slips in.

The First Amendment, ratified in 1791, says in part, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Those last six words are known as the Free Exercise clause.

For a long time there wasn’t much argument about this. America was largely a Christian Protestant nation, and our laws were structured accordingly.

Beginning in the 1960s, as America became more pluralistic and, some might say, litigious, there was more debate over these six words.

Enter two Supreme Court cases, Sherbert and Yoder. One had to do with a Seventh Day Adventist trying to collect unemployment benefits, and the other was about whether compulsory school attendance applied to the Amish.

Out of these two cases came the following test:

If a law is found to substantially burden an individual or group’s religion, the government has the burden to show the law is 1) in furtherance of a compelling government interest, and 2) there isn’t a better way to achieve that interest without burdening the religion.

Simply put, this is the same kind of standard courts use to protect freedom of speech too. Any attorney will tell you that the government loses under this standard the vast majority of the time.

consitituonsigning

The signing of the Constitution.

Then came Oregon v. Smith (1991). (If you’re a regular BBT reader you’ve already read all about this case here, and you are super informed.) In that case, the Court ruled that federal drugs laws could prohibit the possession of peyote (basically, Indian pot). It created a new standard for the Free Exercise Clause.

Under Oregon v. Smith, a law that burdened religion was okay if it was 1) neutral (re: doesn’t explicitly target a religion) and 2) generally applicable to everyone in society.

This ruling, authored by Justice Scalia, was universally reviled. All of a sudden, religion was the least protected right in the First Amendment. No one wanted to see a law compel someone to violate their deeply held religious beliefs. Congress introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which passed unanimously in the House, 97-3 in the Senate, and was signed into law by Bill Clinton. Since that time, about half the States have passed their own State RFRAs.

Now, we fast forward to 2015 and people are objecting to Indiana’s newly passed RFRA on grounds that it institutionalizes discrimination of the LGBT community. Do these objections have any substance? What exactly does the law say? Is the Indiana RFRA different than other states?

I’m going to do my best to answer these questions with unbiased legal analysis while also using plain, good old ‘Merican English.

What does the Indiana RFRA say?

You can read the text of the law here. It’s pretty short.

Basically, the law enshrines the old analysis the Supreme Court used in the Sherbert and Yoder cases. If the government burdens someone’s exercise of their religion, the government must show it has a compelling interest to do so, and there isn’t a less intrusive way to do it.

This law applies to all government entities, including any “branch, department, agency, instrumentality, official, or other individual” working for any state, city, or county government, including those in public education. An individual can seek protection under the law if their “exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened.”

It also defines a “person” as not only an individual, but also an organization, church, partnership, and a corporation.

RFRA1

Is this law different than any other RFRA passed by other states or the federal government?

Mostly, no. I’ve read a few other RFRAs, including those in blue states like Connecticut and red states like Alabama. Indiana’s law tracks about the same with all of the other RFRAs except in one significant way.

Indiana lays out a very broad definition of “persons.” No other RFRA that I’ve read bothers to define the term, leaving it ambiguous whether the religious beliefs of a corporation or church are protected the same as an individual’s. However, the federal RFRA does protect businesses as “persons” based on the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell (see below).

Nevertheless, explicitly protecting businesses is why so many people are angry about the law.

Why did Indiana make “persons” such a broad term?

I can only guess, but here goes.

Indiana likely did this because the two most prominent examples of free exercise litigation in recent years included businesses. Hobby Lobby successfully challenged Obamacare, which mandated that businesses pay for contraception. As a Christian-owned business, Hobby Lobby refused to pay for certain contraceptives they considered to be abortive. They were protected by the federal RFRA, which protects “persons” without defining the term. The U.S. Supreme Court said that the term “persons” includes corporations.

The other example included a Christian who owned a small photography business in New Mexico. She refused to take pictures of a gay wedding based on her Christian beliefs, and she was sued under the state’s non-discrimination law. New Mexico’s RFRA did not apply to businesses, so the photographer lost the case.

Does this law allow the discrimination of the LGBT community?

Warning: This where we leave the world of legal fact and I give my legal opinion.

This law will most likely not lead to the gay equivalent of Jim Crow that so many fear.

With or without this contentious RFRA, Indiana already allows the discrimination of homosexuals. According to the ACLU, there is no state-wide non-discrimination law that protects people on the basis of sexual orientation in Indiana, as well as the majority of other states.

Remember the photographer in New Mexico? She was sued under the state’s non-discrimination law. That same gay couple couldn’t sue in Indiana. Businesses in the Hoosier State can already discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

In short, this hullabaloo is over the wrong law. If the LGBT community is worried about state-wide discrimination, they should lobby to amend the state’s non-discrimination law to include sexual orientation.

It’s also worth pointing out that no part of the Indiana RFRA is original. Every element is already in effect in either a federal or state RFRA. And as far as I know, RFRA isn’t being used as a weapon against homosexuals anywhere in the country.

All of that being said, Indiana could probably avoid all of this controversy if they simply took the definition of “persons” out of the law. With that removed, it would be like almost every other state RFRA. Anyone still wishing to boycott the state would also have to boycott states like Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Virginia too.

Andy loved studying the First Amendment in law school. Unfortunately, there’s not much of a job market for constitutional lawyers, so he settled for prosecuting criminals.