What the actual fuck, y’all? This is not fine. It seems kinda silly to make a drink, even though I feel we may need it more than we ever have. The funny thing is, I have known what drink I was going to make tonight, for a while. I assumed that today would be kinda crazy and full of grandstanding politicians, but who could imagine this horrible result? So, please join me as we stand and make the Scorched Earth.
I am not going to bother going into the history of this drink, because it doesn’t really have much of one, it’s one of those that appears in a couple of blogs and pinterest pages. This riff on the Negroni, is not a cocktail classic, in fact, it seems more like something created to mess with folks, maybe a sideways bartenders handshake, with a wink and a nod. I am, however, going to look into the name of the drink, because we hear it a lot, but most folks don’t know what it truly means.
Scorched earth is a military tactic that simply means to absolutely destroy anything that could be of use to the enemy. This goes beyond the obvious military targets and often destroys humanitarian assets as well, such as food stores or crops and even shelters. Sherman’s march to the sea, where he destroyed everything in his path from Atlanta to Savannah is a prime example. They still talk about that atrocity, but my first real understanding of this tactic comes from Russia. They have used scorched earth, time and time again. In fact, their very existence today can be directly attributed to their ability to withstand invasions by essentially attacking their own country. Napoleon and Hitler both learned that Russia is a vast cold place to try to invade as they both stalled out and had to leave. Why did their invasions fail? It is simple, as Russia had their forces retreat, they systematically destroyed everything that the enemy might use along the way. Crops, shelter, water supplies, fuel depots, every single thing that might give comfort to the enemy was burned or destroyed. This meant that the French, and later German, troops could not live off the land. As a result, their supply chains got very extended and susceptible to attack. As the winter settled in, the lack of supplies made a siege untenable, so they had to fall back only to discover that they were no longer the hunters, but were now the hunted. There is no point in me going into the excruciating details, though I find it fascinating and you should really learn more about it. The point is, scorched earth is a viable, exceptionally cruel, military tactic that takes as much toll on the citizens of the country as it’s enemies.
So you see, why I figured it would be a decent drink for today, and that is before we had actual insurrection as the United States Capitol was invaded and looted. That was before an American citizen died at the hands of another citizen, not for some great and noble purpose, but for political theater. Seriously? I can’t do this, let’s just make the damned drink and get to the coda. Grab a mixing pitcher and pop in 1 ounce each of Mezcal, I went with Illegal, artichoke based bitter Cynar and that old devil-bitch Campari. Add 2-3 stabs of Regan’s Orange Bitters, a barspoon of maple syrup and a barspoon of Habañero Shrub, I used my homemade, but there are lots of them out there. Add some ice and stir to the beat of “Handlebars” by the Flobots, because they got it, way back in 2009. It really is, all about choices and damn it, those choices matter. When well mixed and properly diluted, about the time they get to De Colores in the song, strain into a rocks glass over one big block of unified ice. Garnish with a dehydrated orange and serve.
I do not like this. I don’t like it one damned bit. I don’t care for this stupid drink either. I’m not surprised, Negroni’s or their offspring rarely do it for me and I just don’t like Campari. There is something nice and smoky and hot here, but then the Campari just crushes it. There are a lot of people who are going to love this one and how it shows your taste buds who is boss, I am not one of those people. However, it is almost all alcohol and I could use a slug tonight so I went from little sips to bigger gulps and there is something to be said for that. This drink is like medicine, tastes like hell, but if you can get it down you will probably feel better.
Speaking of medicine, there are a lot of things in life that are hard to swallow, but you’ve got to choke them down and move on. That’s what adults do, anyway. Yeah, it can be painful, but if you care about your country and the people in it, you don’t burn the whole damned thing down because you didn’t get your way. You don’t scorch the earth to make sure that if you don’t get what you want, then everyone will suffer. Gotta be honest, I did not expect to see my fellow Americans embracing the style of William Tecumseh Sherman or adopting standard Russian tactics, but then these are truly unprecedented times.
I remember learning about the War of 1812 in school. Hearing the stories of British troops attacking the Capitol, breaking out windows, setting fires; that fucked with me, seriously. I was shocked. I could not imagine anyone, even opposing troops, disturbing the sanctity of the People’s House, the very symbol of our democracy. There are some things you just don’t do. That’s dirty pool and everyone knows it. How many times have I stood under that dome, feeling the weight of history, the great honor and responsibility that is bestowed on every citizen, a price paid by so many who have gone before, striving for that more perfect Union. I never imagined that in my lifetime, I would see that desecration happen again, especially at the hands of my fellow citizens. This has got to stop. I will say it again and again, there truly is no them, there is only us and when you strike against our country, or enable those who would stand against the voice of the people, you diminish us all. This is a dark day and I cry for our country and what we have done to ourselves, putting parties and demagogues above love of country and our promise to each other. It is strained, but I still have faith in those better angels who will bring a brighter tomorrow. Reason will prevail and we can begin the long road to rebuilding a better world for all. Stay safe, stay hydrated and above all, stay sane, my friends.