It’s January. It’s cold, cold, cold here in Montana. The temperature hasn’t risen above 20ºF in a couple weeks. That being said, it’s a perfect time for a Fireside Chat- that’s a hot cocktail. There is nothing better than coming in from an icy 5º to a warm, low lit den, and sipping on some fragrant hot liquid with a kick. That should be the definition of the word cozy. Body buzzing, fingers tingling, head smiling.
The words Fireside Chat infer simply that: A lovely little talk between two friends in front of a warming fire in a dimly lit living room. Sound’s pretty nice, doesn’t it?
Well, Franklin Delano Roosevelt thought so too. That is exactly how he wanted his talks with the American people to feel- like a fireside chat. He wanted his listeners to imagine him sitting right next to them in their living room sipping on some hot cocoa before bed and talking about the strengths and struggles the country was facing. Let’s back up a moment if you don’t remember learning about Fireside Chats in high school…
First, a few facts about FDR that we may have forgot about, or never knew…
- He was the longest serving President with 4,422 days in office (just over 12 years)
- FDR was confined to a wheelchair- because of Polio- which most of us know, but get this- he didn’t actually contract Polio until he was 39 years old
- Theodore Roosevelt was his fifth cousin, and finished leading the country 24 years prior to FDR’s inauguration
- FDR survived an assassination attempt one month before he took office as the President
- Eleanor Roosevelt was his fifth cousin once removed
- He and Eleanor had six children… despite Eleanor’s belief that sexual intercourse was “an ordeal to be endured”
- Perhaps, in spite of this belief, FDR was known to have a few affairs, one on again off again 30 year affair with a woman named Lucy who was at his bedside when he died
Let’s get back to those Fireside Chats …
FDR took helm of America at a very dire time. The Great Depression had taken a great hold on America. The week that FDR took office the country was in the middle of a bank panic. People, fearing their money was going to be lost in the banks, were trying to withdraw everything they had- which means, if you know how banks work- they don’t actually have everyones hard cash in the vault at a single time- not even close. FDR’s first act was to close all the banks for a “bank holiday”. Then he called Congress in for a special session and had them pass the Emergency Banking Act (Yeah, Congress USED to do things). He then signed into law the Glass-Steagall Act which insured a depositor’s money, up to $250,000 of course, you know the one- Member FDIC.
Before the opening of the banks the following day, FDR talked directly to the people, unencumbered by the spin of the media. He took to the airwaves, and spoke in the simplest terms possible…
I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking—with the comparatively few who understand the mechanics of banking but more particularly with the overwhelming majority who use banks for the making of deposits and the drawing of checks. I want to tell you what has been done in the last few days, why it was done, and what the next steps are going to be…
FDR performed thirty such Fireside Chats. He did not want to overdo them, for if they became too common, less people would tune in. He kept his vocabulary simple- he wanted to appeal to everyone possible. “Eighty percent of the words used were in the thousand most commonly used words in the English language.” In doing so, he was able to skip the bias of the media- FOXnews wasn’t able to spin it into their own lies, because the American People had heard it first, and understood it.
FDR used this tool, the Fireside Chat, throughout his tenure in office. There were many things to communicate to the American People during his long presidency. Some topics he chose to discuss through this method include The New Deal, The Social Security Act, The European War (WWII prior to US involvement), Declaration of War with Japan, and the second to last one being The Fall of Rome (to US troops). He would update the American People on progress of the nation, legislation recommended to Congress, and the falls of the great Evils like Mussolini.
Isn’t it such a romantic idea? That of a President speaking directly to We the People?
Enter Orange Fat Man (No, that’s not the bomb we dropped on Nagasaki)…
Orange Fat Man tweets what he wants… Directly to the people. Not so romantic anymore, is it?
I realize this is a cocktail blog, and not my soapbox for political commentary, but really America? Really? I remember the night watching the numbers come in and realizing that it was going to happen. I was physically sick. It still hurts to think about too much. I have stopped following news- I can’t stand to listen to another news anchor “be surprised” at what Orangefuckwad has said now. It’s too late to be surprised at anything. It’s happening.
We can only hope that this is the last white push. Meaning this was an uprising of scared white America. Captain Pumpkinwattles actually spoke to these people wholeheartedly enough for them to get off their couch, put some pants on, and vote. That’s something. I mean, they probably even left their guns at home. They cared so much about Trump, that they left their house to vote- What where they thinking!? Obama could have went to their house and took their guns- isn’t that what they’ve been scared of this whole time!?
But this has to be the last white push, right? Twenty years from now, demographics are going to be browner than ever. Not only that, Trumps voting electorate are going to be grabbed by the pussy so hard by Trump himself that they are going to be too sore to come back out and vote ever again- Nothing he has said he will do points to helping people who voted for him- at all. America, hold on to your hat, because it’s about to get fucky.
Or as Eleanor Roosevelt eloquently describes uncomfortable situations, it will be “an ordeal to be endured”.
Sorry about that, let’s get back to the cocktail…
This will make us feel better, a Fireside Chat– It’s a cocoa cardamom black tea infused bourbon, maple syrup, hot water and nutmeg. If you don’t have a fire to sit next to with your friend, this will do just fine. Chat it up.
The first thing you want to do is make your tea infused bourbon. I buy my tea from a locally owned shop called Lake Missoula Tea Company. They do online orders, so if you are making this in some odd corner of the world, first, thank you, second, thank you very much again. The tea you want to purchase from them is their Willy Wonka blend. I know, you think this will be a sweet candy tea- but it’s not! It’s far from it. The cocoa is super subtle in lending itself just enough to tame the cardamom. Trust me. If you want to buy some, and you should, follow this link. Otherwise, you’re not really going to make a Fireside Chat, but you can find some other tea you think might be nice to infuse.
So you have your tea, you have your bourbon- whatever bourbon you want. Jim Beam works just fine. Dress it up with Bulleit or Buffalo Trace. I have been wanting to try Black Maple Hill for it’s rich dark qualities, but who’s got the money for that. Anyway, I usually add 100g of Willy Wonka Black Tea to 3.5 liters of bourbon. (We go through that in about a week!) You can just add five heaping tablespoons to a fifth of bourbon and that would be just fine. Let it steep for 2.5 hours. Pour it though a mesh sieve and BOOM! You got your infused bourbon.
So, now that you have your bourbon…
In a snifter, combine…
1 1/2 oz tea infused bourbon
3/4 oz pure maple syrup
6-8 oz hot hot hot water
Swizzle like you mean it
(grab that bar spoon in between your palms, put the spoon side in the drink and rub your hands back and forth like you’re gonna start a fire)
that should create a nice foam on top of the drink that pushes the aromatics up
grate fresh nutmeg on top of that
express a swath of orange peel over it and drop it in
I leave you with a parting photo, one I’m sure you’ve seen before. Ed Clark took this photo of Chief Petty Officer Graham W. Jackson in April, 1945, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s casket was passing by in Warm Springs, GA. This image resonates seventy years later, as we weep for our future today.