Independence Day, Psycho Killer, Crime Music

Do you notice how much more readily the word freedom comes to our lips than does liberty, especially in public discourse? Why is this so? Perhaps liberty sounds archaic, with much-dreaded recollections of assigned excerpts, in high school, from John Stuart Mill. Maybe liberty sounds more dangerous to contemporary ears, more judgmental of fluid mores and more favorable to to old men, than does freedom. Britney Spears seeks her freedom; Bill Cosby is at liberty because of a constitutional violation.

July the Fourth

Whether it is our freedom or our liberty at issue, we have considered Independence Day before:

We all like the Fourth of July; most of us want it to mean something beyond cookouts and fireworks.  When my children were little, I would read aloud to them the entire Declaration of Independence, an oration they found both alarming and distracting. The nation’s Independence Day celebration has changed over time, as has its people (alarmed or distracted) and their culture.

Here in the early portion of the 21st-century, it is the domestic liberty of individuals, rather than the specter of foreign domination from across the seas, that is the most fruitful subject for reflection this Independence Day.  At the end, you can decide which is more apt: alarm or distraction.

In the Declaration of Independence, the list of grievances against King George III and his agents is lengthy and detailed, a fact that my young children frequently brought to my attention as I declaimed in our den.

In general, however, the revolution that followed the Declaration was a “conservative” revolution, at least compared to successor-revolutions such as the French and the Bolshevik.  In terms of its genesis, the complaints in the Declaration were the complaints of Englishmen who had been denied English rights.

Further, many of the concepts underpinning those rights – for example, the nature of the sovereign and his subservience to God, the more powerful King – arose out of the Protestant Reformation in Europe.  There were many flavors and strains of what we call “Protestant,” but one of several unifying factors was an emphasis on the individual’s direct access to the divine, rather than a requirement that the individual proceed through a priest or a bureaucratic episcopate that could grant or withhold dispensation, including that ultimate dispensation of liberty and property rights — the freedom and freehold of the kingdom of God.  The individual believer could now read a sacred text (the Bible) for himself or herself.  Priest, prince, pope: all potentates were sidelined.

In our pluralistic, post–Christendom culture, what bearing (if any) does this historical, cultural and religious context have this Independence Day?

White Collar Wire, “A Meditation on Independence Day”

Read the entire post here.

The Psycho Killer Cocktail

Wrong psycho killer.

I first had a Psycho Killer cocktail in a hotel room at the Courtyard by Marriott in LaGrange, Georgia, but that is another story. The Psycho Killer—a distorted Sazerac-child—is one of those drinks that should not work. Its ingredients are compatible to the extent that the final mixture is a bit weird. Jillian Vose of the famed Dead Rabbit bar in New York did not set out to make a classic cocktail, exactly:

Nobody sets out to create a classic drink. That’s the definition of hubris right there. (Look it up if you have to.) The success – or otherwise – of what you make is largely out of your hands. Other people decide that for you. In the meantime, you’ve got a mission. Should you choose to accept it, you’ve got to start somewhere. For me that’s with a template, one that’s stood the test of time. Or in this case, two templates: the Negroni and the Boulevardier.

A Negroni, as you probably know, is based around gin, vermouth and Campari. A Boulevardier is effectively a variation on that, switching out the Negroni’s gin for Bourbon. Over the years I’d seen many versions of both but, crucially, never one with single pot still Irish Whiskey – which is a huge part of the DNA of our bar.

Why was that, I wondered – and more importantly, could it be done?


Read the entire post here. You may or may not have all of these items in your bar, but it’s well worth the trip to the liquor store:

Psycho Killer

2 Dashes Absinthe

0.75 oz Campari

0.5 oz Giffard White Crème de Cacao [Whatever brand the store carries works fine.]

0.5 oz Giffard Banane du Brésil [Ditto.]

2 oz Redbreast 12 yr Irish Whiskey

Method: Stirred

Glassware: Rocks

Garnish: None

Crime Music

Faithful raiders know that there is a White Collar Wire playlist (“Music for white-collar crime”) on Spotify:

Sometimes lawyers, sometimes guns. Always money.

Here a a few recent additions:

Happy July the Fourth.