Shaken, Not Slurred

There’s nothing like a good James Bond marathon, and yet halfway through Goldeneye, I realize that what this epic Bondfest needs is a strong martini.


The name is Bond…I think. This is like my fourth martini. (Picture courtesy of Eon Productions, 2002).

Unfortunately, I have no vodka or gin in the house, so rather than quench my actual thirst, I attempt to distract myself and satiate my thirst for knowledge by looking into the historical origins of the martini (feel free to scream “NERD!”).

In its purest form, a martini is a combination vodka or gin and dry vermouth, maybe with a dash of bitters and always with a garnish, usually an olive or lemon twist. It is usually recognizable by the iconic V-shaped glass, though not everything served in these long stemmed “martini glasses” is a martini. There are too many variations to count; it doesn’t matter whether you go for a Gibson, Vesper, or you like your martini’s extra dirty (unless you’re in a porn or a parody, never order this with a *wink*). Just know if you order a chocolate martini or a lemon drop, we’re not judging… BUT you’re wrong and will be rightly ridiculed by martini snobs. The dry martini will forever be the drink of James Bond, bored housewives, Mad Men, and many a femme fatale.


Classy, strong enough to push you back in your chair and tantalizingly elegant and subtle when done well, the martini never goes out of style.

Maybe because of Bond’s affinity for “Vodka martini, shaken not stirred,” I didn’t realize that the martini is often seen as a straight-up American drink. In looking into the background of Mr. Martini, the verity of its origin story is less than clear (I’m going to need a strong drink if I read one more article that describes the history as “murky” GET IT, LIKE A MARTINI!?). In terms of the difficulty in uncovering documentation of the invention of cocktails, my hypothesis is that if the inventors were successful in their endeavors, everyone was too drunk to remember to write it down. Now we have mixologists, who, like mad scientists, record their triumphs and failures meticulously, scribbling away in leather notebooks covered in mustache stickers (at least that’s how I imagine it). So, just like with any legend or superhero that’s been around for decades, there are several conflicting origin stories.

The first narrative follows a gold miner in the California Gold Rush. This lucky bastard strikes it rich and saunters into a bar to celebrate his boon. He asks the bartender to make him something special. Now, if this story was more realistic, it would probably end with him getting mugged for so openly flaunting his newly acquired wealth, but we’ll ignore that. The quick-thinking barman whipped him up a “Martinez Special”, named for the city of Martinez, California, where the bar was purportedly located. There is a plaque in downtown Martinez claiming to mark the birthplace of the martini, but that carries as much validity as a degree from a fake online university (Thanks Barkley University!). As David Wondrich points out in his book Imbibe!, the story “rests on the testimony of one old man who was an infant at the time the event supposedly occurred”.

Another version of this story follows these same lines, but stars the celebrated bartender “Professor” Jerry Thomas, who creates the drink in San Francisco for someone headed to Martinez, CA.


OG Hipster

Thomas is infamous for publishing perhaps the first cocktail recipe book, The Bar-tender’s Guide, in 1862. However, the Martinez did not appear on paper until the 1887 edition of the book, two years after Thomas’ death, so his credit is hardly absolute. But who knows? Maybe his spirit retained a connection to his spirits…or he was actually an undead bartender serving Zombies. Maybe he really invented the Ghostini. Or a Dead Manhattan Walking. Really Old Fashioned. Boo-lini. Moscow Ghoul. Ok, I’m done.


Some people (probably New Yorkers) think that the original Martini was actually concocted at New York’s Knickerbocker Hotel by barman Martini di Arma di Taggia in 1912. Never mind that we’ve already established a version of the Martini was written down decades earlier. New York defies your logic! The L train at this point is basically powered by unverified claims of New Yorkers’ inventions.

Yet another theory proposes that the cocktail comes from “Martini & Rossi”, a brand name of an Italian sweet vermouth first produced in 1863. Bar patrons would order a “gin and martini”, specifying the name of the vermouth, like a “Captain and cola”, but so much classier. It’s a feasible, if less enchanting story, and also has to its credit the fact that the original martini was not always the lovely dry cocktail we think of today.

The Martini was likely an evolution of the Manhattan. Having found that whiskey and vermouth made a nice combination, bartenders most likely then had to deal with people asking for a Manhattan “but, like, without whiskey…” so I’m sure they experimented with other liquors.

Early recipes went by the names Martini, Martinez, Martine, Martena, Martineau, Martigny or Martinininini for the very drunk.


I’ll have a MartineZzzzzz

In 1888, Harry Johnson’s Bartender Manual listed the Martini Cocktail as equal parts Old Tom Gin and sweet vermouth, Boker’s bitters, orange curacao, gum (sugar syrup, not chewing) and a lemon twist. The recipe for a Turf Club was also remarkably similar, deriving its name from a gambling club in New York that was probably much like a can of Four Loko, it looks respectable and harmless enough from the outside, but what lies inside is corruption and nastiness that you will definitely be regretting the next day. Anyway, a Turf club was simple enough: a dash or two of Peruvian bitters and equal parts Old Tom Gin and Italian Vermouth. This was pretty close to the original Martinez, which also included a couple of dashes of Maraschino and has a 2-to-1 ratio of vermouth to gin. All of these earlier installations had sweeter elements, but as gentlemen began to prefer dryer cocktails (probably after they realized that the hangover with sweet drinks was closer to death), the Dry Martini became all the rage. It’s first referenced in 1890 and fairly close to the version we know and love today: dry gin (Plymouth or London) mixed with dry (French) vermouth in equal or nearly equal parts. Add a bit of orange bitters or lemon peel and voila: a Bond-worthy cocktail. Although I should mention that most early martinis were often stirred, not shaken, sorry James.


Don’t care. Already drunk. Also, this is just straight up Vodka, I’m such a bad bartender.

So how did the Vodka martini come about? And how did the martini get so famous and become a staple of literature and pop culture? No idea, but give me some time and a couple of Martinis, and I’m sure I can come up with something suitably murky…

“I like to have a martini, two at the very most. After three I’m under the table. After four, I’m under my host.” 

-Dorothy Parker



Wondrich, David. Imbibe!: from absinthe cocktail to whiskey smash, a salute in stories and drinks to “professor” Jerry Thomas, pioneer of the American bar. Perigee, 2015.

Ducks Fly Together!


D2: THE MIGHTY DUCKS, Emilio Estevez, Colombe Jacobsen, Shaun Weiss, Matt Doherty, Marguerite Moreau, Joshua Jackson, Justin Wong, etc, 1994.

Sometimes, I am overwhelmed by weight of our nation’s history, the consequences of denying or ignoring our own history and the current social inequalities and injustices. I still don’t know how to fully cope with this malaise, but I usually try writing, promoting activism or crying hysterically. Or I will try to relax by watching movies. On one particularly bad day, I decide I’m going to watch something from my childhood that I remember as such a feel-good film, it couldn’t possibly be triggering to my sense of social disquiet, right? WRONG!

So there I am, watching D2: The Mighty Ducks, a classic in the children’s hockey movie genre. However, instead of allowing myself to be immersed in the completely unrealistic world of Pre-teen international hockey, I can’t help but notice how this film seems to be a skewed reflection of America’s social injustice. America is a young and diverse country, like the teenage team USA (even though there’s only one black kid on the team, which is the only thing that is accurate to American Hockey). Players come from all over the country (mostly Minnesota) to show the world their skills. Let’s ignore the fact that in picking the “best” teenage hockey players in the country, one of them was a figure skater with no background in hockey and the other is super fast, but doesn’t know how to stop on ice. I’m pretty sure stopping is a prerequisite of being able to play the game. MOVING ON. Anyway, at one point in the film, they are taunted out to “the streets” for “street hockey” with a group of black youths in Los Angeles who will teach them how the game is really played and help them regain their love of the game. There are so many things wrong with that sentence, it’s making my head spin. MCDDDTW EC041

But the main thing that occurred to me was that the messaging of this movie seems to be trying to say that we’re all in this together and have so much to teach each other regardless of race or where we come from. Watching this as a white, upper-middle class little girl, I’m sure that’s what I took from it—that everybody can play! OK, I really just wanted to be Julie “The Cat”, but I remember the movie making me feel hopeful. Surely we can overcome our differences and make a team that works together for all of our benefit. Ducks fly together!

Now, I know that D2 is not meant to be realistic (for one, it’s a bunch of teenagers and not one dick joke in the whole movie) but it’s this “all in this together” kind of messaging that has created a fabricated reality in the minds of White America. Let’s just start with the inconsistencies in using hockey as a medium here. In reality, the NHL is overwhelmingly white. There are 86 black players (as of 2017) out of about 690 active roster players in the NHL. As a side note, in looking for the statistics or demographics of race in the NHL, I found that there are hardly any reliable sources. The most comprehensive guide was Wikipedia, though the NHL website did have one page about the history of black players in the NHL titled “Hockey Is For Everyone”. The first black person to play in the NHL was Willie O’Ree for the Boston Bruins in 1958. The next player listed on the site didn’t play until 1974. That’s nearly 20 years of one or no players of color. You can say that hockey wasn’t promoted or popular in primarily African American communities, but doesn’t that also have to do with both the perceived exclusivity and the material costs of the game? Hockey is expensive, the gear can be hundreds of dollars alone, plus membership to ice rinks; or you can play street hockey, but that still requires roller blades, sticks and pads. Statistically, black people have the highest poverty rate in the United States. Our social infrastructure also barred or discouraged African Americans from attending higher education for decades and much of the training and recruiting for higher level hockey came from collegiate leagues. So, sure, we can all play hockey…if everyone can afford all the gear, and if everyone gets the same exposure to the game and its rules and training, and if everyone has the cultural role models to identify with. See where I’m going here? It’s the assumption that everyone has the same starting point and cultural experience that leads to the disregard of privilege.

This perpetuated messaging that we can all work together for the betterment of all, that we all have things to teach each other and we can all do and be anything we want has formed the core of American identity for decades. It has plenty of truth to it. But it also discounts the varied experiences of discrimination experienced by millions of Americans, primarily people of color. It assumes an equal playing field with equal opportunities, which has never been the case in this country. How far back do you want to go? Housing discrimination? Police acts of violence against black youth? Segregation? Jim Crow laws? Slavery? My point is, we need to face and recognize our nation’s history without sugar coating it. And in media, we need to stop feeding people this idealized propagandist version of American society. Though, in defense of D2, at least it had more representation of black characters, which is more than I can say of many kid’s movies of the era.

On a completely different note, Julie “The Cat” leaves her original team to show the world what she has. She brings this up to the coach after sitting on the bench for most of tournament (movie), who promises that she will get her shot to show everyone what she’s got. The first time she is brought in, she gets harassed by opposing players, pushes them with her pads and is kicked out of the game without a chance to play. Ugh, fine, it was an aggressive act outside of play, but still, realistically she would just have to serve a penalty. Also, thanks for supporting the harassment, ref! UGH. Ok, finally Julie is brought in for a shoot-out because she is the one with the quick glove. Does she get to play during that game or be in goal for the whole shoot-out? NO! She goes in goal for ONE effing shot and she’s supposed to be happy with that?!? Why didn’t they bring her in when Goldberg gets scored on four times??! Typical treatment of women. Be a good girl and we’ll give you ONE GODDAMN SHOT!

And we’re playing hockey with checking and everything, but the girls still need to be saved. WTF Connie?! Get the puck off the boards!!

Ugh, and Gordon’s speech at the end is a beautifully simplified version of American identity: we are rebels but we don’t stoop to the levels of the “goons”. We’re clearly not the bad guys, we rise above that morally and win by being our own unique snowflakes with collective American patriotism. Gag.

How is chipping the puck the “perfect team of play”?! WTF does that mean?!?

And why is the Iceland coach giving instructions to his own team in English? I’m so done with this movie.

And it would take for-friggin-ever for Tyler to change into goalie gear, pads and all. How did I not notice how much was wrong with this movie as a kid?!

Also, also, anyone watching this movie will think the rules of hockey are insane…which they are, but not really in the way the movie indicates.

Whatever, this movie just proves that hockey is more about the bash brothers anyway. Screw intricate play or skill, I wanna see a fight! Finally, something similar to reality.



Wikipedia “List of black NHL players” “Hockey Is For Everyone”

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation–black–hispanic–other–total&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

Crooks and Balances

I wrote this just after the firing of Sally Yates from her post as Deputy Attorney General. Since then, things have continued to devolve to a point where satire is dead and watching the news is the possible cause of a heart attack. I wanted to post this because to me it continues to be a reminder that though our nation is young, we do have a complex system of historical and governmental precedent for guiding especially our legal actions. From historical trial and error, the possible and very actual political fuck-ups, we can at the very least see where we are continuing past mistakes and where we are making brand new errors.

In United States v Nixon, the Supreme Court case that forced President Richard Nixon to release his secretly recorded tapes to the prosecution in accordance with a subpoena. Chief Justice Burger wrote the opinion for the ruling. Here were some of the quotes I found most interesting:

In the performance of assigned constitutional duties each branch of the Government must initially interpret the Constitution, and the interpretation of its powers by any branch is due great respect from the others. The President’s counsel as we have noted, reads the Constitution as providing an absolute privilege of confidentiality for all Presidential communications. Many decisions of this Court, however, have unequivocally reaffirmed the holding of Marbury v. Madison . . . that “it is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is”.[p704] *

*We could get into a whole discussion here over judicial review, but in the interest of time and my own sanity, I’m just going follow legal precedent in its application within our governmental system.

However, neither the doctrine of separation of powers nor the need for confidentiality of high-level communications, without more, can sustain an absolute, unqualified Presidential privilege of immunity from judicial process under all circumstances. The President’s need for complete candor and objectivity from advisers calls for great deference from the courts. However, when the privilege depends solely on the broad, undifferentiated claim of public interest in the confidentiality of such conversations, a confrontation with other values arises. Absent a claim of need to protect military, diplomatic, or sensitive national security secrets, we find it difficult to accept the argument that even the very important interest in confidentiality of Presidential communications is significantly diminished by production of such material for in camera inspection with all the protection that a district court will be obliged to provide. [p707]

Whilst reading through this dense but extremely well-written and interesting historic document, I am immediately struck by two thoughts:

  1. I am so happy I didn’t go to law school, so I will never have to deal with legalese.
  2. I am scared shitless about the direction of this administration and the dissolution of our system of checks and balances.

So remember that phrase, “Checks and Balances” that we learned in school, maybe from a shoddy textbook, eccentric teacher or schoolhouse rock? That system of government was rather revolutionary when the revolutionist founding fathers wrote it into a thing called the Constitution. The idea was that by separating the governing powers into Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary branches, each division could focus on their particular area of expertise while providing “checks and balances” to the power of the other branches. This was the attempt of the constitutional congress to create a system in which no single section of government could abuse their power nor circumvent the other branches to seize total control of the country. They were trying to avoid a full circle devolution into authoritarianism, as under the British monarchy (at least in the eyes of the American revolutionaries).

The founding fathers challenged the notion of divine right, the assertion that the King gets his right to rule directly from God, which was pretty amazing for the time. Sure, the government was still formed by a bunch of wealthy, land-owning white men who ensured that their class would continue to prosper while perpetuating the systems that disenfranchised people of color and women, but we’re still working on that. The three branches of our government have had immense problems throughout history (with each other and the public), but they have survived, and have in many ways prevented any one person or group from gaining total power over the United States.

In the US v Nixon case, Justice Burger asserted that, though the President cannot be tried as an ordinary citizen, he is also not above the rule of law (I was going to write “he or she” there, but let’s be real). He further enforced the Judicial Branch’s role in interpreting Constitutional Law and “checking” the powers of the Executive Branch. If I may paraphrase, he replied to all the President’s counsel and Nixon himself,

“No, you cannot just do whatever the fuck you want” (not an actual quote, but basically).

The scary thing for me is that now we have a President who truly believes that he is accountable to no one, that he can do WHATEVER the fuck he wants. We’ve now seen the first challenge from the Attorney General, questioning whether an executive order is lawful. Rather than listen to an expert in American Law or be at all concerned with the fact that he might be cockslapping the Constitution (or at least not upholding the rights it protects), he fired her. Like he still thinks he’s on his reality TV show. I’m not saying the President can’t fire people, but this is a terrifying preview for dealings with dissenters or opposition within Washington. Also, what does this mean for the future relationship between the Judicial and Executive branches?

What happens if Trump appoints people who will not fulfil the role of checks and balances within the governmental branches?

I don’t have answers, so I’m seriously asking.

Here’s the document that got this rant going:

And here is a link to the Crash Course explanation of the separation of power and checks and balances in the U.S. Government. I love Crash Course. 

I’d like to finish with a quote by James Madison in his defense of the U.S. Constitution. Man, they could write the shit out of an essay back then.

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
James Madison, Federalist Papers Nos. 10 and 51

Fuck her, she’s hysterical!

Until the late 20th century, women expressing anxiety or feelings of…pretty much anything emotional were diagnosed as Hysterical (not in the funny way). The symptoms of hysteria, aka “womb disease”, included “anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability, nervousness, erotic fantasies, feelings of heaviness in the lower abdomen, and wetness between the legs”.[1] In layman’s terms: horniness. But because of course women could not be horny—that was the right and realm of men only—something must be wrong with them, thus the creation of a medical diagnosis and centuries of repression. Hysteria, believed to be caused by “spontaneous womb movement”, is the first mental disorder specifically attributable to women.[2] What did they think wombs were doing? Going on organ safari? Taking time to discover themselves? “I’m sorry ma’am, your uterus seems to have taken a vacation to your chest cavity. She has lovely photos.” Even when the study of anatomy became more than chiseling a bangin’ body out of marble, did no one say “Uh, guys, none of the other organs seem to wander around the body on their own. Also, we should all get checked for cooties.”

The first recorded description of the disorder comes from Egypt in 1900 BC, but it really gained diagnostic popularity among the physicians (and I use that term loosely) of the ancient Greeks. Hippocrates, considered a monumental figure in the history of medicine, asserted that the womb produced toxic fumes which could be released through sexual activity. Like the Egyptians, one solution was to have something sweet smelling between the legs and something pungent or unpleasant by the nose to drive the uterus back into place. The only good part of this is calling gynecologists “womb wranglers”. Hippocrates also suggested that even widows and unmarried women should get married and live a satisfactory sexual life within the bounds of marriage to combat hysteria.[3] You’ve probably heard this argument; it’s developed into “she just needs a good hard fuck”, often prescribed for “ice queens” or “bitches”.

The entire idea of this disorder is based on the assumption (believed for way too long) that female sexuality is an unnatural and unhealthy condition. Rachel P. Maines, who wrote THE book on this topic, writes:

This purported disease and its sister ailments displayed a symptomatology consistent with the normal functioning of female sexuality, for which relief, not surprisingly, was obtained through orgasm, either through intercourse in the marriage bed or by means of massage on the physician’s table.[4]

Yes, you read that right. Basically, if your womb goes on walkabout, all you need to do is get its attention with a good orgasm. Of course, if you’re not married or if your husband, like most men in the history of men, thinks that sex is for making babies or satisfying male lust (insert gorilla noises), don’t you worry – you can pay your friendly neighbourhood doctor or midwife to give you a ‘treatment’. This medical opinion was found as early as the first century AD, and increased in popularity in the 1600s, when hysteria became linked to the brain and neurology, and less to the uterus.[5]  Because it was still believed that woman could not experience sexual lust or pleasure, the euphoric relief brought on by super professional physician fingering was known as “paroxysm” rather than orgasm.[6] By the early 19th century, treating hysteria became a lucrative business for physicians, whose hysterical patients didn’t die, but required regular treatment to manage the disorder, even if ‘regular treatment’ would nowadays be considered having an affair with your doctor.

The downside of this business was actually performing the chore of giving these women mind blowing (or more likely merely decent) ‘paroxysms’. Physicians complained that the procedure was taxing of their time and labor and gave them hand cramps. They generally “sought every oppovibratoradrtunity to substitute other devices for their fingers, such as the attentions of a husband, the hands of a midwife, or the business end of some tireless and impersonal mechanism”.[7] It was this desire to avoid giving their ladies clients the time and effort needed to ‘relieve
symptoms’ that led doctors to experiment with mechanical forms of stimulation, or early rudimentary forms of vibrators. The first were water or steam driven, but the introduction of electricity changed everything and gave women the means to have as many ‘paroxysms’ as they desired. And that, boys and girls, is how the vibrator came (heh) to be.

Though hysteria ceased to be a medical or psychiatric condition in 1952, “hysterical” or “hysterics” are still used today, generally in reference to an extreme state of emotion. It’s no accident that woman are still considered ‘more emotional’ or the trope of the crazy woman is so often seen in media. We also have not evolved past the assumption that there is something psychologically or physically wrong with women’s sexuality. That’s partly what slut shaming is about. So, fuck you, Hysteria, for perpetuating the male-centric view of sex and the belief that female sexuality and desire are unnatural…but thanks for the vibrator.



Castleman, Michael. “”Hysteria” And The Strange History Of Vibrators”. Psychology Today. N.p., 2013. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

Laden, Tanja M. “Fucking Hysterical: A Timeline Of Vintage Vibrators”. VICE. N.p., 2013. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.

Maines, Rachel. The Technology Of Orgasm. Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. Print.

Tasca, Cecilia et al. “Women And Hysteria In The History Of Mental Health.”Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health : CP & EMH 8 (2012): 110–119. PMC. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.



[1] Castleman, Michael. “”Hysteria” And The Strange History Of Vibrators”. Psychology Today. N.p., 2013. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

[2] Tasca, Cecilia et al. “Women And Hysteria In The History Of Mental Health.”Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health : CP & EMH 8 (2012): 110–119. PMC. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Maines, Rachel. The Technology Of Orgasm. Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. Print.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Castleman.

[7] Maines.

History Under the Influence

Welcome! This is my blog celebrating my fascination with history, alcohol, the history of alcohol and the factors that contribute to our telling of history. The way history is taught and projected is constantly under many influences: the state requirements, the narrative of the winners, the imperatives of the wealthy elite, many beers. Likewise, the way we learn, process and understand history is subject to the influence of our personal experiences, demographic, history teachers, consumption of beer. This is the place where I get to write my perspective on the historical, cultural or political stories that I find interesting. Here, on this very blog, I will try to make sense of it all for my own amusement and hopefully the amusement of anyone who chooses to read it (thank you, by the way!). I think I’ll finish with two quotes that will either confuse you more or sum up here better than I could:

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”
― Winston S. Churchill

“Everybody’s got to believe in something. I believe I’ll have another beer.”
― W.C. Fields