Weekend Cocktail: The Liberty Cocktail

Weekend Cocktail: The Liberty Cocktail

Liberty, as a concept, is having a rough time of it in this country. On the left, you have an ongoing, direct effort by the Obama administration to curtail religious liberty and conscience protections, forcing employers to pay for medical “care” they may deem morally hazardous. On the right, some of us have conflated liberty with permissiveness, which has a corrosive effect on the ability of communities to order themselves according to their values – or even to articulate those values in public.

In addition to the absurd number of crimes you and I unknowingly commit on a daily basis, we have the mess of our court system, which is increasingly geared toward plea bargaining (or, admitting guilt and paying up to avoid the expense of a trial). Then there are the stories of overzealous police actions, including house raids based on mistaken identity and the unnecessary shooting of family pets. Something as simple as a traffic camera is yet another extension of the State’s power that we seem unable to combat.

I’m generally not one for wild pronunciations of doom. Silent despair is more my style. Still, there are some very real, insidious threats to our liberty out there. They start small, and they metastasize into enervating cancers. The old saw about eternal vigilance seems more relevant than ever, especially since the NSA seems to be eternally, warrantlessly vigilant over the communications of American citizens.

But look, they don’t pay me to make political commentary around here. I’m supposed to pour the drinks. Besides that, I hesitate to give something so gross as politics the power to ruin my mood. So I’ll leave it to our very fine authors here at the Federalist to tackle the tough stuff, and attempt to ameliorate the situation via liquid argument in place of, you know, a substantive one.

Liberty Cocktail

When it comes to mixed drinks, it’s fine and dandy to be able to whip together a pousse-café or perform the particular alchemy of barrel-aging (prep time for one drink: six days to three months). But there’s something to be said for simplicity. When you have a straightforward cocktail like the Liberty, you can become very practiced at it rather more easily than with the more adventurous and outlandish preparations. There’s a satisfaction to be had in doing a simple thing well, and mastery of this drink is within the reach of even the most casual fan of spirits. Not only that, but with the ease of preparation it is a snap to make one for guests who appreciate deft hands and keen taste.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 1 oz Calvados apple brandy (or Laird’s Applejack)
  • 3/4 oz light rum
  • Muddler
  • Old-fashioned glass

To begin, add a lime wedge to a thick-bottomed old-fashioned glass. Add the sugar. Muddle the lime and sugar together until the sugar dissolves. If you prefer, you may use a teaspoon of simple syrup instead of loose sugar.

Fill the glass half-full with ice. Pour in the apple brandy and rum, then stir. Garnish with a tiny American flag and toast to the Constitutional Amendment of your choice. Sip slowly; sip freely.

I had no Calvados when I made this, but thankfully Calvados and Applejack are somewhat interchangeable – with the important caveat that Applejack is a mix of brandy and neutral spirits. No doubt a straight, aged apple brandy would add to the experience, but I’m happy to report that the basic Applejack performs admirably. Based on availability, you should go with what suits you.

The Liberty Cocktail has a delightful, well-rounded tartness. It’s not overly sweet, which I found to be refreshing. The lime gives it a citrus tang, not quite a sourness. The sugar and the apple brandy smooth things out considerably. Rum provides a bite of alcohol and some necessary heft. Use a light rum, like Bacardi. The clean, slightly sweet taste of light rum will not interfere with the other flavors at play, but will punch things up and remind you that you are in fact drinking an adult beverage.

This is a great cocktail to sip in the evening while you ruminate upon the day’s events and the ills of our great republic. There’s a daily litany of terrible news to digest, both political and cultural, and the Liberty Cocktail is a sure way to inject at least a few ounces of enjoyment into what could otherwise become a cheerless slog.

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Neal Dewing lives and works in Portsmouth, Virginia. He is the co-host of The Fifth Estate, a podcast examining culture and politics.
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