Hi, y’all! We made it to Cocktail Hour!
I’ll be LIVE on Instagram today (5/6) at 4:30 p.m. EST with special guest Leigh Newman to discuss her short story collection, Nobody Gets Out Alive. Just go to my Instagram profile (@haimerlad) to find the stream. You can also watch it later, if you can’t make the show live.
Ok. Let’s get to it!
I’m making an Alaska cocktail in honor of this week’s Instagram LIVE guest Leigh Newman and her short story collection, Nobody Gets Out Alive, which is set in Newman's home state of Alaska.
Of course, as she told me, nobody in Alaska really drinks an Alaska. Still, I wanted to try it.
The Alaska is a very booze-centric drink. If you’re someone who is more into Mudslides or Cosmos or sweet drinks, this one probably isn’t for you. After all, the Alaska is a martini variation that was developed in the early 1900s.
The original Alaska used Old Tom-style gin, which is sweeter than the juniper-forward London Dry-style gins that you might be most familiar with. Have you ever heard of the Martinez cocktail? It’s the granddaddy of so many drinks – including the classic gin martini – and its base was/is Old Tom-style gin.
However, by the time the Alaska was published in the Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930, the newer London Dry-style of gin was featured.
For your Alaska, use whichever style of gin you prefer. Or experiment and try one each way. Whatever you do, don't use bottom shelf gin. Like a martini, this is a drink where the ingredients need to shine. Quality matters. Cheers! 🍸
Here are a few of my favorite gins:
Liberator Gin from Valentine Distilling (they also make an Old Tom style)
Railroad Gin from Detroit City Distillery
Bombay Sapphire (for classic G&Ts, especially)
Schwarzwald Dry Gin from Monkey 47 (when you want something a little funky; it’s good in Negronis)
Beefeater (a classic basic; fairly astringent)
Plymouth Gin Navy Strength (technically, Plymouth is a brand and a style. It's more citrus-y and spicy than London Dry gins)
Barr Hill Gin from Caledonia Spirits (more floral and uses honey in its botanicals; I keep this stocked for Friend of Bar\Heart Shana. It's her fave -- and she's the best home bartender I know)
Gilbey's Gin (our budget gin; neutral and makes a nice everyday G&T; wouldn’t use it for an elevated cocktail like the Alaska or a Martini)
Here's my interview with Leigh Newman from May 6.
Want to make an Alaska with us? Here’s the recipe:
+ 1.5 ounces gin
+ .5 ounce yellow Chartreuse
+ 1 dash orange bitters
+ Lemon twist for garnish
Instructions: Fill a vessel with ice and add the gin, Chartreuse and bitters. Stir gently until icy cold (~20 seconds). Strain into a cocktail glass. I like a coupe or a Nick & Nora glass for this. Twist a strip of lemon peel over the drink and then garnish.
This month gives us biker gangs and coming of age stories, dystopian futures, a curmudgeonly octopus, living dinosaurs, strangers disrupting the peace on an isolated island, women in country music, a mother trying to give a child a "better" life, and the story of how enslaved peoples impacted America's origin and culture. Did I mention the octopus?
Here’s the full list:
African Founders: How Enslaved People Expanded American Ideals by David Hackett Fischer
Avalon by Nell Zink
Mother Country by Jacinda Townsend
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara
Trust by Hernan Diaz
You Have a Friend in 10A by Maggie Shipstead
Vigil Harbor by Julia Glass
As always, the list prioritizes books that address our themes of home, community, belonging and identity. I assign bonus points for debut and emerging women+ authors. You can read more about each book here.
You can find this month’s list – and all previous lists – on my shop at Bookshop.org. If you order through them, you are supporting small, independent bookstores. The site takes 10% of sales and divvies it up amongst local bookstores every six months. So far, they’ve sent more than $20 million. You can read more about how it works here.
I am also an affiliate of Bookshop.org, so I receive a small fee from sales made through my page. It doesn’t cost you anything or take away from the bookstores, though! Just want to be upfront with y’all.
This week’s feels come from a member of our of Bar\Heart community who responded to my writing prompt about what it means to “belong.” Let’s listen in:
Want to share what belonging – or not – means to you? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I share these stories anonymously so that you can feel free to write your truth from the heart rather than worry about performing for social media.
The feminist underground abortion network, Jane’s Collective, was based in Chicago. Our mothers and grandmothers were here in the Midwest, land of niceness, fighting for us. They taught themselves to perform abortions. Politico just published a really insightful Q&A with Laura Kaplan about her time in the collective. Here’s an excerpt:
And we're about to go back there. I feel gut punched this week that this right, this decision that is between a woman, her doctor and her faith, is likely going to be taken away. I always said to vote like the Supreme Court depends upon it. And it did.
But I still had taken for granted that abortion was settled case law. That if my nieces needed an abortion, like I did, they would have the same access to care. I trusted that women mattered as more than wombs. I was wrong.
And now we're back there with Jane's Collective and all those women who lead abortion undergrounds. Yet I feel oddly reassured knowing that I'm here in the Midwest, where I'll stand with women (and men) who have a history taking matters into their own hands.
Here is what I’m reading about the leak and the undoing of Roe.
+ Jill Lepore: There is no mention of the procedure in a four-thousand-word document crafted by fifty-five men in 1787. This seems to be a surprise to Samuel Alito.
I particularly like that she pulls out this exchange between Jacob Howard, a Republican senator from Michigan, and Reverdy Johnson, a Democrat from Maryland, while they were arguing the 14th Amendment.
So here we are.
He then walks us through the arguments, which was instructive.
Sure, I guess? We can’t let states determine their own drinking age, but let's give them the fundamental rights of half the population? We'll have to at least fix gerrymandering first.
+ Meg Conley: I Exist Because My Grandma Had an Abortion
+ The Daily: The Anti-Abortion Activists, Part 1. What’s Next for a Movement That Looks to Have Achieved Its Decades Long Goal?
This is today’s podcast and I’m looking forward to listening.
Because I also needed some joy this week.
2. "Need A Big Mac Out on the Tundra? There’s an App (and a Plane) for That" by Victoria Petersen in The New York Times
Kim Cattrall has been silent on the matter of the Sex and the City reboot, And Just Like That … but she talks to Variety about her new work and her noticeable absence for Variety’s Power of Women issue.
It’s dark. So dark. And so, so, so good. If you’re not watching Ozark, on Netflix, now is a good time to start at the beginning. It starts out with the story of a man under pressure. A man who happens to be an excellent accountant laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel. But when the cartel discovers that Marty Byrde’s business partner was stealing from them, they whack him. And now, here we are, four seasons later and I think NPR said it best:
And yet, they agree, it’s a thrilling ride worth taking. Especially if you are a fan of shows like Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy and Queen of the South.
In honor of Mother's Day this weekend, I offer you a mom and her pup. But also, any time is a good time for an otter pic. Sometimes, I go and watch the Detroit Zoo's otter cam when I need a dash of joy.
I recognize that this can be a hard holiday for some of us. If you're in that space, I send you so much love.
All right, y'all. That's it for this week. And I'm taking next week off. I have a one week gap between spring and summer terms, and I want to get out and enjoy all that spring. I'll see you back here with the midweek edition on May 17.
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What is Bar\Heart? It is Amy Haimerl’s weekly newsletter and podcast about belonging in America and the places we call home. Plus cocktails! You can read more about it here. The midweek edition includes intimate conversations from the heart; the Friday Cocktail Hour is a round up drink recipes, book recommendations and other detritus I pick up on the Internet and in life.