When fans' feet on the pavement quicken toward the gates, we cease to measure the length of the day with clocks, whose ticks and tocks now distend ever more noiselessly until we count beats and rhythms in pitches and swings. We frame periods in innings and recover a more intimate acquaintance with beginnings and endings, with the origin of finitude. This is the hour for hushed vitality, for precise attention, for active sensation—sight, sound, touch, but most of all smell and taste. This is the crimson hour.
Where was I? Oh yes, the Phillies will visit the Braves, who pivoted from competitor to rebuilder in a flash in the offseason and whose creative, aggressive front office has become the object of many attentive Phillies fans' envy. They locked up some young talent long term, traded other talent—veteran and youthful alike—for younger talent, and have absorbed dead salary in order to stock their farm with under-25 prospects that will shortly be ready. And the team on the field right now is not that bad, only 3 games under .500. So, despite the plethora of reasons for optimism about the Phillies' future—the emergence of young stars, the recent and ongoing influx of talent into the farm, the soon-to-be finished veteran contracts, a press conference where the most powerful figures in the organization spoke warmly of sabermetrics—some fans see how little the team spent in yesterday's international free agent market, look at the rapid pivot the Braves have executed, and wish to tear the ownership and front office apart like a hormone-addled, telekinetic prom queen drenched in pig's blood.
It would be nice if the Phillies could from now on avoid the boom and bust cycles that have characterized the organization since the mid 70s, as the Braves have over the last 25 years. (Of course, cycles were a vast improvement over their previous pattern, which looked something like the EKG reading of a heart-disease patient losing a battle with arrhythmia... I have a feeling I'm about to get Schmenked for this.) After all, when the Phillies are winning, the organization becomes the second mint in the Philadelphia area and that money should allow them to have the front office talent and flexibility to absorb mistakes and perpetually field competitive or near-competitive teams. If there is anything I hope to see the most from the MacPhail Regime it is more flexibility in how the team constructs its roster and deploys its assets. And with that hope in mind I propose that this weekend we drink Moscow Mules, the cocktail born of repurposing and flexible pivoting.
You probably associate the Mule with Russia because it is made with vodka. I imagine you imagine mittened Bolsheviks cupping copper mugs that just held soup and now hold the Little Water, while they huddle beneath matted wool blankets awaiting the rattle, whine, and grumble of a German Panzer sweep. The Mule's brand is that of the blue collar, taut-skinned, thin-lipped Soviet who knows that the Regime is wrong but also that no Regime is right. But like all brands this is a lie, perpetrated by the Bourgeois entrepreneur. The Mule is as much Russian as the last Tsar was.
The cocktail was invented in the 30s or 40s by an American who had bought Smirnoff distillery and was discovering that America does not drink that much Vodka. He needed a way to convince his potential consumers that Vodka is not well-tempered rubbing alcohol repackaged as an exotic, foreign luxury. When he met a barkeep struggling to sell his homemade ginger beer and a woman with a backlog of copper mugs, the three collaborated to create the Moscow Mule and use it as a marketing tool for all three of their products. As you can see they pitched it to public as a wholesome and intelligent choice of the celebrated elite:
A vintage ad from 1966
The marketing campaign was a raucous success in the 50s and 60s, and the cocktail remains extremely popular with the added virtue that it's tasty too. Thus, the Moscow Mule was born out of the need to salvage sunk costs and avoid plummeting into failure.
You can make this drink with little effort if you like. All you need is vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice all of which can be found around the corner. To make a Mule mix 4 parts ginger beer, 2 parts vodka, and 1 part lime juice; stir on ice and drink. If you are going the easy route, I recommend Fever Tree Ginger Beer.
But the hard route is much tastier and more DIY-satisfying. For this, you'll need to make your own ginger syrup. The fresh ginger syrup makes the Mule a spicy, sweet, and perky concoction. While the flavors are more typical of fall and winter, the drink works well even in a muggy Atlanta summer. Here's how to make a Moscow Mule, the hard way.
Tools: Sauce Pot, Paring Knife, Wooden Spoon, Mesh Strainer
Ingredients: 4 Cups Water, 8 oz. Fresh Ginger, 2 Cups Sugar, Pinch of Salt, 1 Tsp. Peppercorns
- Slice Ginger relatively thinly into rough circles and then slice again into rough, smaller pieces. Peeling the Ginger is optional. Unpeeled Ginger will darken the syrup and add a very slight bitterness.
- Pour all ingredients into Sauce Pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Once boiling, lower heat and bring the mixture to a steady simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. The goal is to reduce the syrup by half.
- Once the syrup is reduced, strain out the ginger and peppercorns and let the syrup cool.
- Store in a glass jar or bottle in the fridge. Will last over a month.
Tools: Shaker, Juicer, Copper Mug (or Low Ball or Rocks Glass), Mesh Strainer, Mixing Spoon
Ingredients: Vodka, Ginger Syrup, Lime, Club Soda
- Fill Shaker with Ice.
- Juice lime, measure out 1 oz. of Juice.
- Pour 2 oz. Vodka, 1 oz. Lime Juice through Strainer, 1 oz. Ginger Syrup.
- Shake vigorously so that the ingredients distribute from top to bottom and you incorporate air into the cocktail.
- Pour Club Soda into Shaker. Stir briefly.
- Pour contents of Shaker into Mug or Glass. Enjoy!
I don't have any recommendations for what vodka to use; however, I have never found the quality of the vodka to matter. I also do not like the taste of vodka and will only drink it if it is well masked. In most cases I consider gustatory incapacity a failure of character. But not this one.
As always, you can play with the ratios in this recipe, especially the ratio of syrup to vodka and soda. Find the taste that works for you.
Here's to a potential end to the bust and boom cycle. May the FO pedal forth equably.