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Ask a Bartender: 18 Questions with Candice Coy at Mother's Ruin

Ask a Bartender: 18 Questions with Candice Coy at Mother's Ruin



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"Sexy, sexy business."

This phrase is a favorite of Candice Coy, head bartender at Mother’s Ruin in New York City. It’s how she seductively describes the simplistic enjoyment of that first taste of añejo tequila or her pleasure of using certain bar tools (she even makes a jigger sound titillating).

But, really, this phrase sums up the gorgeous 31-year-old Bronx native, who’s worked with some leading bartenders in New York City and Los Angeles. Coy makes an already attractive profession look even more seductive with her genuine smile and magnetic personality. Add to that how she defies her petite stature and scales the bar wall to get bottles beyond her reach, and it’s even more alluring.

Sure, she could ask one of the male bartenders for help, but independence — and getting things done without a man’s help — is sexy, sexy business.

The Daily Meal: So, Candice, what turns you on about bartending?

Candice Coy: My favorite aspect of bartending is the people. I love talking to people. I was always the kid who wanted center stage and to be the host of all the fake tea parties. I love entertaining and engaging people, and, to me, that is exactly what my job is. Having a room of partiers and making sure they are all having a good time is a large part of why I enjoy my job so much.

TDM: How long have you been a bartender? When did you know you wanted to make this your career?

CC: Twelve years, which feels very weird to say because it doesn't feel like that long. I started bartending to pay for college, graduated, and then realized I wasn't anywhere near as happy with any of my "real" jobs as I had been behind the stick. I was finally fully convinced this was what I wanted to do when I stopped exclusively working as a high-volume club bartender and discovered cocktail culture. When I worked at BED NY with people like Tim Cooper, Willy Shine, Aisha Sharpe, and Leo DeGroff, I learned more about spirit and drinks than I had ever known. It was the fast pace I had always loved [paired with] a new, more intellectual, knowledgeable dimension that was and still is constantly engaging. I love my job every day; even in the worst moments, I am happy to be exactly where I am.

TDM: Where/when was your first gig? How many bartending jobs have you had?

CC: My first bartending gig was at Lot 61 in 2001. It was a club on 21st just off the West Side Highway. I was the only woman behind the bar, a good seven inches shorter than anyone I worked with, and we were too busy for anyone to have time to hand me any of booze I couldn't reach. So, all night I would climb the back bar. Ten years later, [while] working at The Edison in downtown LA, as I was climbing for a bottle of Scotch one of the guys asked me why I didn't just ask for help. I realized it had never occurred to me. I'm grateful that my first gig instilled that in me: Be fast, be fun and be willing to scale to the highest heights to get your sh*t done. As for how many bars, I am honestly not sure. I haven't worked in as many places as one might think. I tend to stick with the good places for a few years, and I have been blessed to work at some amazing places with my favorite people: Mother's Ruin since day one (now we're about to celebrate our second year anniversary); Surf Lodge for five years; GoldBar for three; BED for two... maybe 10 bars [total]? Maybe.

TDM: What are some of pros/cons of being a woman barkeep in the "boys’ club"?

CC: Pro: Being able to make fun of them for not being as fast as a girl. Con: When they cry about it like a girl. [Laughs] Just kidding!

TDM: What do you enjoy most about bartending at Mother’s Ruin?

CC: That is a tossup between our dope crew of golden-hearted miscreants and our crowd. We are blessed to somehow be a bartender’s bar (so there is always someone to chat up, geek out with, or just lend an ear for some venting to), a neighborhood bar (the loyalty and love of our regulars is incredible and much appreciated), and also a great bar for those who want more than a dive and less than a formal affair. Their happiness in trying cocktails that are new to them in an environment that is fun and open makes me happy.

TDM: In what ways do you think Mother’s Ruin stands out from other New York City bars?

CC: We aren't a cocktail bar; we are a "people" bar that makes some great cocktails. Serious cocktail culture needed to happen to swing the pendulum away from just slinging drinks and booze we knew little to nothing about, but I think it went too far in pretension at some point, which made it an exclusive exclusionary thing for a lot of people. That is never what bartending should be. Mother's Ruin is part of what I think of as a hybrid movement in bars: A combination of the fast-paced, loud, rambunctious world of clubs and the quieter, crafted precision of cocktail bars. Expediency without sacrificing quality is an important skill: Do it. Personality is equally important: Have one. My favorite examples of this are Employee's Only and GoldBar. You'll never walk out of those places without having had a good drink and a good time. Mother's strives for, and I think (hope?), accomplishes the same thing.

TDM: What’s your input on cocktails?

CC: We all contribute cocktails to the menu. I'm probably (definitely) the biggest slacker on adding new things. In my defense, I am always the closer, so I walk into an already busy room, and by the end of a Friday night, I am glad to remember my own name. The last drinks I put up where the Coy Joy (gin, Dolin Blanc, Lillet, grapefruit peel) and Unicorn Bubbles (brandied cherries, lemon, St. Germain, white wine, topped with bubbles blown by a unicorn). I am a bit of a narcissistic cocktail namer. I suppose I should add that my nickname at Mother's is The Unicorn. Long story.

TDM: What are your favorite cocktails at Mother’s Ruin? What are guest favorites?

CC: As they change about twice a week, that is hard. Last weekend, the favorite was the Behind the Can (Waqar Pisco, lime, coconut, Angostura bitters). The G1 has also been popular (Dolin Blanc, Aperol, tequila). Personally, I like the Hot Jamz (tequila, mezcal, habanero jam).

TDM: I hear there’s some sort of slushy drink machine… Tell me more! Is it like a spiked Slurpee machine??

CC: I love the slushy machine with my whole heart. I love putting classic cocktails like the 212 (tequila, Aperol, grapefruit) or a Bee's Knee's (gin, honey, lemon) — drinks that can have such an aura of formality — into something as simple and fun as a slushy machine. It’s a light-hearted way of removing the cloak of reverence from the classics. I love Lillet. Most bartenders know what Lillet is; most customers don't. Put it in a slushy and all of a sudden novice drinkers want to know what else they can try with this Lillet business. It makes me endlessly happy and people love it, which is just rad.

TDM: What cocktail is currently being poured from it? How often does the cocktail change?

CC: Right now, it is actually the aforementioned Bee's Knee's. One word: Delicious. It changes as often as the rest of the menu, so at least twice a week, sometimes up to three or four.

TDM: Can you get brain freeze from it??

CC: Ha! If you had asked me that a few days ago, I would have said no, but I had one last night and now I must truthfully admit I did give myself brain freeze. Turns out you shouldn't try to drink a frozen drink as fast as humanly possible. Every day I'm learning...

TDM: What are your absolute favorite cocktails to make? And why?

CC: Do people have favorites? There isn't any cocktail I particularly like or dislike making more. I have no judgments on whether someone wants a Kamikaze (vodka, triple sec, lime juice) or a Vieux Carré (rye whiskey, cognac, sweet vermouth, Peychaud’s bitters, Angostura bitters, Bénédictine). Though, I do like stirring drinks. I think that stems from my "enamoration" with certain bar tools. Spoons, mixing glasses, Japanese jiggers… Sexy, sexy business.

TDM: What spirit is sexiest to you? Why?

CC: Añejo tequila. It was one of the first things I ever drank and enjoyed, rather than just getting booze in to hurry up and be drunk. Sipping an añejo tequila is also sexy, sexy business to me.

TDM: For you, which spirit is the most versatile?

CC: Though it can be argued that gin is the most versatile as it lends itself well to all manner of cocktails, I am going to say whiskey or tequila for one reason: To me, those are the spirits that work in cocktails shaken or stirred, I enjoy neat or on the rocks and would also shoot. They fulfill every desire. What's more versatile than that?

TDM: What are your favorite herbs, bitters, etc. to use in your cocktails?

CC: Ever since I read that cilantro and parsley are liver detoxifiers I have been a little obsessed with putting them in cocktails. They're practically health drinks! Kinda, sorta, maybe... ish. [Laughs] Healthier or not, those herbaceous flavors offer something really interesting to a drink. As for bitters, we just had a cocktail called Apple Bottom Dreams on the menu and having those apple bitters beside me has left me playing with them quite a bit. My go-to drink is a simple gin and soda with Angostura bitters. Ango was my first and will always be my favorite.

TDM: OK, you’re at that new, trendy bar you’ve been meaning to check out. Do you go for the classic cocktail or spot’s specialty?

CC: Like most bartenders, I am guilty of drinking very simply when I go out. Rittenhouse on the rocks. Gin and soda. But, if I am going to go in for a cocktail, I prefer the spot's specialty. Though, I love a Final Ward (rye whiskey, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice). I have had it many times over. It's nice to try something new.

TDM: It’s 4 a.m., and the bar is closed. What’s your poison for your own post-shift cocktail?

CC: Totally depends on what kind of night it's been. Why? What have you heard? [Laughs]

TDM: Who has been an inspirational bartender(s) for your career? Why?

CC: There are big names who have inspired me from afar, but I'll go with the ones closest to my heart… Remi Shobitan and Tim Cooper… Leo DeGroff, Joaquin Simo, Giuseppe Gonzalez, Jay Zimmerman, Dev Johnson, and Steve Schneider… [and] TJ Lynch. Recently, a customer asked [Lynch] to come up with something, gave him an outline, and a few minutes later, [she] had a beautiful cocktail in hand. She took a sip, told him it was amazing and asked how he did it. He shrugged and answered, "I'm 40," which made her and me laugh. That said it all. "I've been around. I know my sh*t*. I listen. I care. It's what I do. No biggie. Enjoy." At some point later, they did a shot together. She had never tried Ramazzotti, one of his favorites. She loved it. She had a great time, tried new things, made a friend. That's everything I want in a bartender, and that's the bartender I want to be.


18 Cocktails Every Bartender Should Know

We all know bartenders are well versed in many cocktails and mixed drinks. But what are the most important cocktails every established bartender should know?

Which cocktails are the most popular in 2020? Which classic cocktails are timeless?

Some of these famous cocktails have been popular for generations and continue to be favorites around the world, gaining popularity from movies and pop culture.

To make it easier for you to learn the top cocktails every bartender should know (whether you’re from San Diego or Phoenix or even Wisconsin), National Bartenders has compiled the below list just for you to bookmark and share with your friends.


Jeffrey Morgenthaler Bartending and Cocktail Advice Since 2004

If you don’t tend bar for a living, or haven’t at some point in your past, you probably don’t understand the quick thinking that we have to do every single second. So, in order to demonstrate what sort of complicated math we do regularly to those who don’t tend bar, and to act as a sort of fun series of brainteasers to those who do, I present to you bartender story problems. Enjoy. Cheers.

And please post your answers in the comment section.

    1. Paula is 42 years old. She weighs 127 pounds and is 5’-8” tall. If she consumes one Grey Goose and soda every 40 minutes for 3 hours, how many seconds does it take for her to scream “Opa!” when the bartender accidentally drops a pint glass on the floor?
    2. Greg’s bar tab is $157.30. If he wants to leave the bartenders an 18% gratuity, plus an extra $1.50 for each drink he received on the house, how long after he’s left the building will it take for the barback to notice he took the signed copy with him?
    3. Susan has one 6-oz glass of wine and four 10-oz glasses of water over the course of the 2 hours she spends at the bar. Assuming she makes one trip to the restroom for every 15 ounces of liquid consumed, how many trips will it take before her creepy Tinder date makes a rapey comment about slipping a roofie in her drink while she was away?
    4. Chad does not believe in washing his hands when he uses the restroom. If he consumes 8 pints of Coors Light over the course of 3 hours, and eats 2 olives from the bartender’s garnish tray for every trip he makes to the toilet, how many people can he get sick in one night? (Assume 120-seat restaurant for this problem, and show your work.)
    5. Kyle, Aidan, and Madison have been cut off by the bartender and are planning to share an Uber home. If Muhammed is 4.7 miles away, traveling at an average of 28 miles an hour with very little traffic, how long does the group have to make inappropriate comments about his ethnicity before he arrives to pick them up at the bar?
    6. Tristan has been tending bar for exactly three months. He can serve the following number of guests over the course of the next week:
      Monday: 37 people
      Tuesday: 45 people
      Wednesday: 62 people
      Saturday: 119 people.
      Assuming these totals are the same as the mean averages for the next three weeks, how many people will pretend to care about the housemade birch bark bitters he’s working on?
    7. Kayla is walking to a neighborhood bar located .73 miles from her house, at a pace of 2.39 miles per hour. Last call is in 2 hours. If she reads a Dr. Oz article about wheat allergies right before leaving the house, how many times will the bartender be informed that Tito’s is the only gluten-free vodka before closing?
    8. Leaf, McKenzie, and Willow split a four-course meal with cocktails and wine, and their bill is $187.50. Assuming they calculate a gratuity of 1g of marijuana per every $20 spent, how much money will their server need to collect from her other tables in order to pay her rent?
    9. A 12-person bachelor party has chosen a Tiki bar to spend the night drinking in. If the bar carries 127 different types of rum, and each member of the party can consume one glass of rum every 22.6 minutes, how many times will the best man ask the staff about the availability of Pappy Van Winkle?
    10. Cody is a professional athlete. He weighs 223.81 pounds, is 6’ -1.22” tall, and has a BMI of 29.21. His yearly salary is $242,000, which makes his weight-to-dollar ratio $1081.2743 dollars/pound. Solving for X, how many pounds per square inch of pressure will he be able to apply to the bartender when asking for a free birthday shot for the girl he just met?

    BONUS QUESTION

    Hayley has a ticket up for 1 Ramos Fizz, 3 Mojitos, 1 Pisco Sour, and a well vodka tonic. Assuming she can make an average of one drink every 45 seconds, how many minutes will she spend running around the restaurant looking for all the components for the herbal tea someone just ordered?


    Mother’s Day Celebrations

    Meet the team behind JCHAI, the program helping adults with developmental disabilities gain independence. Dr. John Russell warns us about the recent measles outbreak. All the content of a podcast app plus the technology of a FitBit: Find out how Walk My Mind can help your mind, body, and spirit. The Brandywine River Museum’s Stroller Tours are putting parents at ease. Plus, learn to make fun cocktails and mocktails for your Mother’s Day Brunch with bartender Jasmin Osorio.

    Mother’s Day Drink Recipes:

    Raspberry Mint “Mojito”
    1/2oz raspberry puree
    1/2oz lime
    4-5 mint leaves
    Simple Syrup (1 part warm water to 1 part sugar)
    Club Soda
    Directions
    Add mint and simple syrup to a tall glass. Briefly muddle to release oils from the mint. Add raspberry, lime and ice. Top off with club soda. Use straw or tall drink spoon to incorporate. Garnish with more mint.

    Sweet Ginger Tea Toddy
    2oz black tea (freshly brewed, chilled)
    1oz lemon
    1/2oz honey
    Ginger Beer
    Lemon wheel
    Cinnamon stick
    2-3 cloves
    Directions
    Add lemon, honey, tea, and ice to a tall glass. Top of with ginger beer. Toss in the cinnamon stick. Poke the cloves through the lemon slice and place into drink. Add straw. Use straw or tall drink spoon to incorporate.

    Rose Water Aperol Spritz

    3-4oz sparkling wine
    ½ oz Aperol
    2-3 dashes of rose water
    Orange peel
    Mint (for garnish)
    Club soda (optional)
    Directions
    Add a dash rose water into a wine glass. Fill halfway with ice. Add sparkling wine and Aperol. Express orange peel around the rim of the glass. Roll up the orange peel. Skewer together with mint using a toothpick or cocktail skewer. Top off with club if desired.

    Peachy Gin and Tonic

    1.5oz Gin
    3oz Tonic
    Peach slices
    Lime wheel
    Peppercorns
    Sprig of rosemary
    Directions
    Add Gin into a stemless wine glass. Fill 1/4 – 1/2 way with ice. Add tonic, peach slices, lime wheel, rosemary and peppercorn.


    Religious liberty and the Romance of Orthodoxy

    “This is the thrilling romance of Orthodoxy. People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy.” – G.K. Chesterton

    Long post, hastily hammered. I’m hammering, specifically, a Rod Dreher post, since (I admit) I have become quite addicted to watching him chew the theological scenery re: the Indiana stuff. But, in criticizing, I’m not just piling on with more pizza parlor people snark, I hope. I think he’s confused, but what he says does raise interesting issues. I will attempt to be only mildly sarcastic around the edges, in the hopes of good conversation all round.

    On the conservative side, said Kingsfield [Dreher’s pseudonymous law prof. correspondent], Republican politicians are abysmal at making a public case for why religious liberty is fundamental to American life.

    “The fact that Mike Pence can’t articulate it, and Asa Hutchinson doesn’t care and can’t articulate it, is shocking,” Kingsfield said. “Huckabee gets it and Santorum gets it, but they’re marginal figures. Why can’t Republicans articulate this? We don’t have anybody who gets it and who can unite us. Barring that, the craven business community will drag the Republican Party along wherever the culture is leading, and lawyers, academics, and media will cheer because they can’t imagine that they might be wrong about any of it.”

    Kingsfield said that the core of the controversy, both legally and culturally, is the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey (1992), specifically the (in)famous line, authored by Justice Kennedy, that at the core of liberty is “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” As many have pointed out — and as Macintyre well understood — this “sweet mystery of life” principle (as Justice Scalia scornfully characterized it) kicks the supporting struts out from under the rule of law, and makes it impossible to resolve rival moral visions except by imposition of power.

    “Autonomous self-definition is at the root of all this,” Prof. Kingsfield said. We are now at the point, he said, at which it is legitimate to ask if sexual autonomy is more important than the First Amendment.

    For liberals like myself, this is a topsy-turvy view. I think of religious liberty as an aspect of individual liberty. I’m not sure I endorse Kennedy’s exact phraseology, but it’s close enough for government work. Dreher and Kingsfield take almost the opposite view. For them religious liberty functions as a check or curb on individual liberty. Their concern is to maintain a safe space for orthodoxy. This is quite explicit later in the post.

    The professor brought up the book The Nurture Assumption, a book that explains how culture is transmitted to kids.

    “Basically, it says that culture comes through your peer group,” he said. “The most important thing is to make sure your kids are part of a peer group where their peers believe the same things. Forming a peer group is hard when it’s difficult to network and find other parents who believe what you do.”

    While each family must be a “little church” — some Catholics call it a “domestic monastery,” which fits well with the idea of the Benedict Option — Kingsfield says the importance of community in forming moral consciences should lead Christians to think of their parishes and congregations as the basic unit of Christian life.

    Hearing Kingsfield say this, I thought about how there is a de facto schism within churches now. It will no longer be sufficient to be part of a congregation where people are at odds on fundamental Christian beliefs, especially when there is so much pressure from the outside world. I thought of Neuhaus’s Law: where orthodoxy is optional, it will sooner or later be proscribed. It is vital to find a strong church where people know what they believe and why, and are willing to help others in the church teach those truths and live them out joyfully.

    Since there is value in orthodoxy you have to be able to make it non-optional. This necessary power to restrict liberty is ‘liberty’.

    This isn’t as Orwellian as I am making it sound. The view even makes liberal sense, up to a point, for more or less the same reason that Fifty Shades of Gray makes liberal sense (I haven’t read it, but I hear it’s got bondage in it). It isn’t crazy to call the right to engage in consensual bondage ‘freedom’. If that’s freedom, why not the comparatively more abstract bonds of orthodoxy, with all the attendant vigor and rigor? As Chesterton writes: orthodoxy is “the equilibrium of a man behind madly rushing horses, seeming to stoop this way and to sway that, yet in every attitude having the grace of statuary and the accuracy of arithmetic.”

    So long as participating adults are free to opt out of these kinky communities at any point!

    The general picture is of little spheres of non-liberal community embedded in the overall framework of a free, liberal-democratic society. As Dreher says, you just have to shift your sense of the ‘basic unit’ of freedom from the individual to the group. Groups are free to define themselves. But then individuals, within groups, will necessarily be less so.

    This picture is problematic when children are involved.

    Bondage dungeons are ok if everyone is an adult with a safe word. Any community for consenting adults only, with clearly marked exits, is ok by liberal lights, pretty much no matter how illiberal its internal hierarchies and arrangements. It’s all about consent.

    What about orthodox religious communities? Can non-consenting minors be compelled to grow up in non-liberal bubbles of orthodox community until they reach adulthood? Obviously, yes. If their parents say so. This is settled law. Yet this is problematic. Dreher would, I think, have to agree with what I’ll call the Abraham Principle. If someone is a credible threat to the health and safety of his child – even if he believes God commands it! – Child Protective Services should step in. There’s no other way to run the railroad. Dreher worries the state will seriously abuse its privilege of defining ‘serious abuse’, but he wouldn’t deny that this privilege is also an obligation. Saying what sorts of practices are so damaging that they violate the rights of children is, predictably, going to be a difficult, unavoidable issue.

    The issue of how it is permissible to raise and educate gay (and transgender) children is going to be one such issue. This proposition is, I think, what Dreher is most concerned to resist. I think he thinks no orthodox Christian teaching/practice concerning homosexuality (and transgender status) could ever legitimately be presumed to rise to the level of a threat to a child’s health and well-being. He’s worried the state may soon decide otherwise. I think he’s maybe right about the latter wrong about the former.

    But let me complete our circuit around our prospective, non-liberal orthodox bubble.

    Besides the issue of minor children, there will be problems at the margins, where the orthodox community semi-overlaps the public sphere. Cases will predictably arise in which adults who have not consented to be part of this orthodoxy find themselves burdened by the practices of the orthodox. The common denominator with the child case is, obviously, lack of consent.

    Bakers and florists who refuse service are colorful instances. They are burdening customers with their orthodoxies when they could be acting as ‘commmon carriers’ of whatever good/service they provide. Tax issues are less exciting but more wide-spread and consequential. Any organization that enjoys tax-exempt status is, in a sense, being subsidized by citizens who may not approve of what that organization does, or stands for. The issue here is structurally similar to the NEA ‘piss christ’ and Robert Maplethorpe controversies of yore. Should ordinary citizens, scandalized by this stuff, be forced to pay for it via taxes (or even just tax exemptions for organizations than sponsor it)? There is a certain logic to the notion that state-sponsored art should be bland, agreeable art. But if that logic is good logic, there would be a certain logic to extending it to all education and religion (that involves tax-supported or just tax-exempt status.) Most everyone is in favor of a bit of unorthodoxy somewhere along the line. Spice of life! So we would want the bland mandate of pan-agreeableness to lapse at some point. But at what point?

    Before we try to sort this out, let’s notice what’s going on at an even higher level of abstraction. Dreher is basically endorsing the logic of multiculturalism. Cultural rights. Group rights. Conveniently for me, he sees this very well and concedes that it is, in principle, problematic. So I don’t have to argue it. I can just point out that what I said, above, about how Dreher and Kingsfield think religious liberty is a curb on individual liberty is only half the story. The truth is that they want it both ways.

    But let’s stick with multiculturalism/orthodoxy and its individualist discontents, in the abstract. Let’s be sure we see the problem, before I try to pin it on Dreher. If you insist that both group rights and individual rights be given more or less absolute weight, you generate contradictions. Because if groups have the right to preserve themselves, this will infringe the rights of individuals who find themselves unconsentingly contrained by orthodoxy. And if individuals have the right to autonomous self-determination, the fabric of orthodoxy will start to fray.

    There is pretty obviously no fix for this problem. But it’s not like we were seriously expecting life to present us with a perfect political philosophy of liberalism, without any nagging antinomies or incommensurabilities of value. If this is the kind of view you want to go for – liberalism with a communitarian character – there are better and worse ways to kludge through, day by day. Dreher picks a bad way.

    Here it is. You oblige liberalism to produce contradictions between group rights and individual rights, by demanding strong protection for both. Then, when contradictions show up right on schedule, tut-tut about how this disaster goes to show how liberals have become illiberal! (The fools! We warned them!) And then, in the ensuing confusion, you get to have your cake, in the spirit of autonomy, and refuse to serve it to someone else, in the spirit of orthodoxy.

    Unpacking that last step a bit more fully: if you find yourself trapped within an orthodox community from which you wish to dissent, treat this as an outrage to your inviolable personal sphere of autonomy. (Liberalism has been betrayed!) But if someone else says their personal autonomy is infringed by your orthodoxy, take this occasion to mock justice Kennedy’s phraseology and insist that ‘liberty’ means orthodoxy. True liberalism allows for orthodoxy! (What has happened to liberalism that people don’t know this?)

    What allows this heads-I-win-tails-you-lose approach to seem plausible is a patina of by-being-against-liberalism-I’m-the-true-liberal. You seem keen-sighted in two senses: you see the breakdown of liberalism, also a truer form of it, just over the horizon. (Would that we could get there!) The truth is that you got exactly what you damn well asked for but you don’t like it unless the contradictions break your way, not in favor of the other guy. But even life couldn’t be so mysterious as all that, surely.

    (If it’s any consolation, Chesterton employs the same sleight of hand, using ‘orthodoxy’ as a proper name for one orthodoxy but also to denote the generic, contrarian joys of adopting beliefs those around you find shocking. That is, he uses ‘orthodoxy’ to mean orthodoxy and liberty. Just as Dreher uses ‘liberty’ to mean liberty and orthodoxy. Convenient stuff, once you get the hang of never cutting your own throat with it.)

    To illustrate: the parts of Dreher’s post not devoted to deploring the tragic impossibility of orthodoxy today are largely given over to deploring its inescapability. Kingsfield and Dreher lament liberal orthodoxy in elite culture and academe. Christians marginalized! Forced into the closet!

    Obviously this sort of tu quoque is irresistibly fun (if that’s your idea of fun.) But if liberals should hate themselves, since they officially hate orthodoxy, then friends of religious liberty should love liberalism, since it’s actually orthodoxy. Right? Can you turn the tables without turning both sides of the table? That would be a trick!

    Maybe being forced to hang out with a bunch of same-thinking folks has its good side? (This is Dreher’s whole deal. So he should at least consider that he himself might be right.)

    Dreher has an easy response, of course. Just because he likes some forms of orthodoxy doesn’t mean has has to like them all. ‘I’m not into Fifty Shades or liberal academe, hence not Fifty Shades Of Liberal Academe. Not my bag!’ But this won’t do at all. If religious liberty is just the right to enforce orthodoxy at the community level if that isn’t automatically deserving of respect then religious liberty isn’t automatically deserving of respect. We don’t just assume it has value.

    Either that or we confront one of those much-despised ‘mysteries of life’. I’m willing to extend to Dreher the liberal courtesy of a bit of mystery. But we seem to be back at bad old autonomous selves, just at the level of community, not self, and Dreher doesn’t want to rest his case on relativist clap-trap, I’m sure. What to do?

    At this point Dreher has another obvious response: orthodoxy is not ok when it amounts to elite hegemony. If there is no free exit because there is nowhere to go (but down) then liberalism has broken down. I’m actually not all that interested in raining on Dreher’s liberal academe pity party. It seems to give him pleasure. I’ll just note that if he’s right, the point applies to another area from which there is no free exit (for 18 years): childhood.

    You know what? Post plenty long already. Better make this Part 1 of 2. (And who knows whether next week will contain enough time for me to write Part 2?)

    But here’s the short version of where this is going. It’s all very well to mess with your poor gay kid’s head in awful, traditional ways, so long as you wrongly believe being gay is always and in every way horrible, miserable, shameful and bad. But once you yourself don’t believe that – because, honestly, everyone knows better today – would it be ethical to raise a (perhaps) gay child while intentionally concealing from them the possibility of living like (oh, say) one of the nice, happy gay people I’m reasonably sure Rod Dreher must know?

    I am not, by any means, missing the fact that Dreher thinks he has religious objections that go beyond whether these people are ‘nice’. The question is: do these objections justify imposing orthodoxy?

    Of course the government needn’t step in. But that doesn’t mean you have good ideas about parenting, just because the government needn’t step in.


    Ask Adam: How Do I Ask a Bartender How Much Something Costs Without Sounding Cheap?

    I was recently at a wedding reception and there wasn’t enough food (boo). What’s the move here? I wanted to drink, but I was scared to drink too much, so I ended up having just a single beer and not enjoying myself very much…

    While many weddings can be quite raucous affairs, if for some reason the bride and groom have chosen not to go all-out on the food, then you should not go all-out on the drinks. Drinking on an empty stomach is a sure way to become inebriated much too quickly, and then you’re much more likely to embarrass yourself doing the chicken dance or electric slide. Have a few drinks, celebrate the happy couple, and then make a beeline to the nearest late-night food spot.

    36 Gifts and Gadgets For Anyone Who Loves Drinks

    I was recently in a hotel bar and ordered a single glass of whiskey. When the waiter brought the check, it was for $25! What’s the etiquette for asking a bartender how much the drink they’re bringing you costs? I don’t want to sound cheap, but I don’t like nasty $25 surprises either.

    It’s always incredibly frustrating to me when an establishment doesn’t list the price of spirits on their menus. It feels like a shady tactic, and there really is no good way to ask the price that’s simpler or more tactful than just straight-up asking. Just like when a server tells you the specials without telling you their prices, you have a delicate dance to do, tactfully asking the cost so you don’t look cheap while avoiding winding up with a shocking surprise when you’re presented with your bill.

    The best way to handle it would simply be to say: “I’m deciding between a glass of X bourbon and Y bourbon and was wondering what the cost of each was.” Choosing two bourbons that you know to traditionally be in different price categories will also give you an indication of what the rest of the bourbons on the list might be priced at. Then, it’s your call as to whether or not you’ll be ordering a spirit at the bar, or simply sticking to beer.

    I recently went to a BYOB spot for dinner with some friends. We brought three bottles of wine and drank two and a half of them, but didn’t finish the third. The problem was, the restaurant had thrown out the cork. They didn’t want to let us take the bottle with us out of the restaurant. What’s the law here? Are we legally allowed to take a bottle out of a restaurant?

    While I am familiar with the law if you purchased the bottle at the restaurant, most states allow you to take home what you don’t finish as long as the restaurant re-corks it. I am not positive as to whether or not this applies to BYOBs. My assumption would be that it does, as you owned the bottle before coming to the restaurant, and you still own it after, whether or not you finish it, but I would think if the cork was missing, you’d be out of luck regarding taking it home. While you could try to stuff some napkins or tinfoil in the opening of the bottle to seal it, if you were stopped, this probably wouldn’t look totally kosher to the cops.

    But there’s an easy fix here. If you have some wine left over but the cork’s gone missing, share it with the staff instead. They will definitely appreciate it.


    Ask a Bartender: 18 Questions with Candice Coy at Mother's Ruin - Recipes

    Natalie Iseli-Smith, the first head brewer at Founders Brewing Co., photographed at Motor City Brewing Works. She says she’s more concerned with proving herself as a brewer than as a female brewer.

    S he’s the first female head brewer in the history of Founders Brewing Co., the 14th largest brewery in the country and the largest in Michigan. But even with the title firmly in her grasp, 32-year-old Natalie Iseli-Smith still has to convince people she’s the one making the calls at the Detroit taproom when they show up looking for the person in charge.

    “Even when I would say I’m the brewer, I’d be dismissed on sight — until I started saying technical terms to them and providing proof of what I’m talking about,” says Iseli-Smith, who worked with Founders in Grand Rapids before landing in Detroit.

    It’s an all-too-common story among the still relatively few women in the craft beer world — whether it’s the women behind the scenes who brew it or those sitting down to order a clean, crisp Munich dunkel at the bar. A survey by the Brewers Association trade group shows that only 7.5 percent of breweries in the United States employ even one woman in the role of brewer. Iseli-Smith isn’t the first woman to brew beer for Founders in its 24-year history, but she’s the first to hold the title of head brewer with the company.

    “It’s not that I’ve had to prove myself as a woman,” she says. “It’s that I’ve had to prove myself in the industry — period.”

    Her journey started at Brew Detroit, where she was hired as a bartender in 2014. The contract brewery in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, which also makes its own small-batch varieties, had plans to double-train bartenders as brewers.

    “I was working on the bottling line,” IseIi-Smith says. “I helped organize their brewhouse laboratory,” which measures things like Co2 volume and alcohol by volume, or ABV — essentially the key stats of any beer.

    She ended up being the only bartender to jump into brewing in those early days, ultimately creating a beer that caught the attention of Mark Rieth, the owner of Atwater Brewery in Detroit, which was acquired by the massive beer conglomerate Molson Coors last year. It was a sessionable English pale that impressed Rieth’s taste buds with its biscuit and caramel malt tones and an earthy hop profile. A modified version of IseIi-Smith’s Echobase ESB (extra special bitter) is now on tap at the Founders taproom in Detroit. “Within a month, I was brewing on [Atwater’s] 20 hecto-liter brewhouse,” which can produce about 16 barrels of beer, or about 520 gallons, per batch.

    Iseli-Smith’s love for “nerdy science” — “I won a lot of science fair awards in middle school,” she’ll proudly tell you — plus a penchant for the arts (she often designs her own labels for her beers) and a degree in cultural anthropology propelled her interest in craft brewing, which marries all three. “I just want to push the boundaries of creativity while still paying respect to traditional styles,” she says. “My goal is to explore new flavor pairings.”

    “What’s it like being a female brewer? It’s the same as being a male brewer,” says Founders head brewer Natalie Iseli-Smith.

    As a belated celebration for International Women’s Day, Iseli-Smith dreamed up a mint mocha oatmeal stout named U.N.I.T.Y., which borrows its moniker from the Queen Latifah song of the same name. It’s on tap now at the Detroit taproom. She describes the beer as having a “heavy body” with hints of toasted malt, chocolate, and a slightly minty finish. A sister beer of U.N.I.T.Y. will be produced at the Founders Grand Rapids location (but expect a bit more cinnamon in that one), with a portion of sales from each unit going toward Pink Boots Society, a national nonprofit working to grow the number of women working in the fermented beverage industry.

    Iseli-Smith’s path from bartender to brewer is common among the relatively few women now working in the craft brewing industry, says Annette May, who is on faculty at the Brewing and Distillation Technology program at Schoolcraft College. She teaches beer styles and sensory evaluation as well as beer service and draft management — stuff like how to get a perfect pour with a 1-inch head. “A lot of women entered the industry the same way I did,” says May, who started out bartending in Chicago in the mid-’90s at one of the few bars in the city at the time that specialized in a wide variety of brews, including early craft beers and unusual, high-end imports.

    She built a reputation by studying the various styles and becoming a go-to source for all things beer, especially brews that had yet to become commonplace. She’s now an advanced cicerone, a trademarked certification for beer that mirrors what a sommelier does in wine. She’s also a founding member of Fermenta, a Michigan-based nonprofit that mirrors the national efforts of the Pink Boots Society here in southeastern Michigan. The volunteer-led group has awarded more than $16,000 worth of scholarships for women to further their careers in brewing.

    The question for May and other women in the industry is: Why are such efforts still necessary?

    “That’s a really big mystery because, as most people know, women were the original brewers. At some stage in history, it changed,” May says. “In modern times, there’s been a whole persona of beer as a men’s drink. Being an actual brewer is a physically taxing job. Women cope just fine with it.”

    Iseli-Smith has coped, she says, by “keeping up” with her male peers.

    “People ask me all the time: ‘What’s it like being a female brewer?’ ” she says. “It’s the same as being a male brewer. It means using your head and your hands to bring out your heart. It’s about bringing people together. We just happen to be representing underrepresented communities.”


    How do you feel about serving drinks in a heavy volume environment?

    Can you handle the pressure of a packed bar of demanding patrons shouting over one another? Are you able to remember drink orders when they are consistently being shouted at you? In all of this excitement are you also able to have a conversation with a patron, give correct change, and keep a smile on your face? You must be a master of multi-tasking!

    "I enjoy working in a fast-paced environment. It's a challenge, but that makes it more fun. I enjoy the energy and the adrenaline working behind the bar of a busy establishment."

    "If you're new to bartending, you might want to ask for a couple of slower shifts to learn and improve your skills.

    For example: "I am well prepared when it comes to making drinks correctly. Also, my experience in retail and customer service will help me a great deal when it comes to talking with customers and giving correct change. If possible, I would love to start with a couple of slower shifts and work my way into the busier nights. Would this be possible?"


    Are Robot Bartenders Really the Future?

    Given the fact that Amazon will soon be delivering packages to your doorstep with flying robots, getting drinks from bartending robots doesn't seem all that farfetched. At least that's the hope of those who participated in the bartending robot competition of the RobotGames earlier this month. From simple one or two drink-dispensing machines to more complicated creations like ThinBot, a four-foot-tall mechanical mixologist capable of making 16 different cocktails, it all sounds pretty Mos Eisley Cantina if you ask us. But we're nothing if not technologically open-minded around here, especially when it comes to streamlining our liquor consumption. So, in order to decide whether we should robo-fy our favorite saloons, here are a few of the pros and cons of replacing carbon-based bar jockeys with high-tech, cocktail dispensing machines:

    Pro:
    You won't have to wait 15 minutes for some surly human bartender to perform the Herculean task of popping the top of a Corona and setting down it in front of you.
    Con:
    Robots are (almost) never physically attractive, while human bartenders sometimes are.

    Pro:
    With a robot you won't ever have to hear the words "coriander jasmine blossom infused&hellip" uttered by an actual human being.
    Con:
    Forget digital networks, robotic bartenders are how Skynet takes over the world. You heard it here first.

    Pro:
    You won't succumb to drunken 2 a.m. desperation and hit on a robot.
    Con:
    You might succumb to drunken 2 a.m. desperation and hit on a robot.

    Pro:
    You'll save money since you won't feel compelled to tip a robotic bartender.
    Con:
    People who work on tips are often good at pretending to like you.

    Con:
    The Cocktail reboot won't be nearly as entertaining when Tom Cruise is played by an actual robot.

    Verdict:
    5 cons to 4 pros. guess we'll stick with human bartenders for now.


    Grieving My Mother as I Became a Mother

    I’d counted on my mom, an expert on child development, to help me learn to parent my son. The thought of managing without her was terrifying.

    This essay was originally published on January 7, 2020 in NYT Parenting.

    I used to say it casually: “I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.” I said it when I was tired, worn out, maybe coming down with a cold.

    Then my mother was rear-ended by a semi truck and died. I don’t use that phrase anymore.

    When the wreck happened, I was almost 19 weeks pregnant. I had talked to my mother a few hours before, like I did almost every morning. I had called her as I drove the winding road from my home to my office and complained, once again, about how tired I felt. I told her I had been feeling queasy lately. I could hear the smile in her voice. She told me she was sorry I didn’t feel well, but she was happy there were signs her grandson was growing.

    She had said for months that she wanted my son to call her “Nana.” But she felt the need to reiterate it, once again, during that conversation. “I just feel like a Nana,” she said, as I pulled into the parking lot where I left my car each day. I hurriedly told her I had to go — that I was almost at my office — and she rushed out the words she always ended our calls with: “O.K., I love you, bye.” She hung up while I was saying “I love you, too.”

    I tried to call her again as I came back from lunch that day. A conversation with a new mom friend had left me wondering whether I needed a doula for the birthing process. I had never heard of a doula, and I wanted my mom’s thoughts on the idea. Her phone rang until it went to voice mail.

    When my father showed up at my office a few hours later with the news, I didn’t believe him. “But I talked to her just a few hours ago,” I said, confused. I didn’t fully believe that it could be true until I saw her body, days later, after it had been released by the coroner’s office. Until that point, I kept telling myself there was at least some small chance that they — the police, the hospital, the media — had made a mistake.

    But it wasn’t a mistake, as surreal as it was. I began to go through the required motions: shopping for a black dress that fit over my expanding belly to wear to the funeral picking out bright, cheerful flowers to drape over the coffin placing the “grandmother” necklace I had bought her for Christmas a few months before into her hand so that she could be buried with it.

    I walked away from the cemetery, knowing that I was beginning a journey of letting go of my mother while trying to becoming a mother myself.

    I felt as if all of the help and support I had counted on to be a good mother had been suddenly and unexpectedly ripped away. My mother was a baby expert, a retired director of a child development lab. She had been planning to come stay after I gave birth and to care for her grandchild once I went back to work. She had always promised me that, if and when I had kids, she would come over during the day and walk out the door as I walked in each night. “I’ll even have a casserole in the oven,” she had said, laughing. I had no experience with kids. How was I going to do this without her?

    In the months before my mother’s death, I had written a book about her life. About how she had grown up in extreme poverty in the Appalachian Mountains and become the first in her family to go to college. About how she had me while she was a young college student and worked hard to graduate with me by her side. About how the value she taught me to place on education led me far beyond the eastern Kentucky hills to the halls of Harvard, Yale and the London School of Economics. I concluded that everything I knew and had was because of her, and other strong Appalachian mountain women like her.

    My mother and I had always been close, but the writing process had brought us closer. We had talked for hours about her life, her memories and her unexpected life path. She traveled with me to the small mountain town she grew up in, and we spent days talking to our relatives. She was honored that her daughter wanted to write a book that told her story. A few months before she died, she read a draft and told me she felt like a “proud hill woman.” I finished the book the day before she passed.

    What I missed most after she died were the conversations, both about the book and about our lives. The hours we spent on the phone sorting out the details of her memories. The chats we had over meals about family folklore. Our repeated attempts to distill some meaning from her journey. “You can tell my life story however you want,” she told me. “I just hope someone takes something from it.”

    In the first months after she died, I found myself picking up my cellphone and instructing Siri to “call Mom” — before remembering that no one was going to answer on the other end. I would take the dog for a walk in the park, and instinctively begin to dial her. My book editor sent me a list of follow-up questions, and I immediately thought, “I’ll have to ask my mom about that.” Some days I felt as if the hole created by her absence would swallow me.

    To fill the void, I began to write letters to her, in an attempt to continue the conversation that had been abruptly cut off. I told her about my pregnancy, about how scared I was about becoming a mother without her by my side. I asked her questions about what her labor had been like and if she thought it was O.K. to get an epidural. I recounted the mundane details of my life, because I had never not shared those with her.

    “Last night was hard,” I wrote. “My friend is throwing me a baby shower and she asked me to make a registry. I didn’t know what type of baby carrier I wanted, or if a Pack ’n Play was something I needed for an infant. I wasn’t even sure what I was supposed to put (or not put) in his crib. I wanted to sit down with you and make the list together and have you explain to me why each thing was important. I can’t believe I’ll never have the chance to learn how to be a mom from you.”

    It’s hard to read those letters now. The early ones are full of grief, rage and uncertainty. Sometimes, the letters were nothing more than a stream-of-consciousness scream onto a blank page. I wrote them weekly, and I didn’t necessarily feel better afterward.

    Gradually, the tone and purpose of my letters began to shift. They became a way to tell my mother about her grandchild and to hope that, somehow, the message was getting through to her. I told her how I thought my chest would burst from pride the first time he rolled over and about how his tiny fingers rested against my chest when I fed him at night. I described his coy smile and complained about what a terrible sleeper he was. I wanted to document — for her and for myself — the ways he was growing. I was growing too.

    I was becoming a mother, learning how totally and completely overwhelming it was to be charged with the care of a tiny human. “When does parenting get easier?” I typed into Google one afternoon.


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