The Third Rail: Rachel Maddow and Progressive Cocktail Punditry


MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is probably the most well-known promoter of cocktails on TV today. And not because it’s some simple source of ad revenue – she really drinks them. What other news personality decided to teach viewers (and Martha Stewart) about the perfect election-night cocktail? By now we know plenty about her mixological preferences, but it made us wonder: what do other pundits drink during those commercial breaks?

Unfortunately, their habits aren’t as nearly as interesting. Rush Limbaugh has largely been interested in other types of cocktails but that doesn’t mean his show doesn’t give others a good reason to drink. Celebrate or mourn getting frozen out of his chance to own part of the Rams football team with a St. Louis Blizzard: 2 oz bourbon, 3/4 oz cranberry juice, 1 oz fresh lemon juice, 1 tbsp sugar. Blend it all together with ice and serve in a rocks glass, or straight out of a Rams trademarked cocktail shaker.

Glenn Beck is more upfront about what he drinks: “As a conservative, I guess it’s what you’d expect: I drink the blood of small people who are different than me.” (In fact, as he notes in the same interview, he’s a recovering alcoholic – so perhaps he drank the blood of large people before that?)

Realizing how few other well-known TV pundits drink helps us appreciate Maddow even more, and makes me wonder if there’s some correlation between liberalism and appreciation of a good cocktail. She even recently judged a recipe contest hosted by Gothamist for drinks using Dalmore Single Malt Scotch whisky though like any serious tippler she declared it a tie and drank them all. The Dalmore folks were kind enough to send me some of their 12 year-old to judge the recipes myself (Ms. Maddow used the 15 year-old, but no matter). The recipes all have their merits but I couldn’t help favoring the Modern Cocktail No. 2: 1 oz Scotch, 1 1/2 oz Sloe gin, 1 dash Orange bitters, 1 dash Absinthe, 1 dash Grenadine, shaken and strained into a cocktail glass.

I recommend this drink for the sheer audacity of its combination of flavors – orange, liquorice, pomegranate, sloeberries, and scotch! This is not what most of us think of when we think of single malts. Payman Bahmani of Umamimart and Life’s a Cocktail brought this one to the table. And he deserves at least an honorable mention for it. The flavors work perfectly together – an unusual fruit beginning and a dry, pucker-y finish – even for a reluctant absinthe drinker like me. It’s a cocktail that displays the type of quirky, imaginative harmony that only a liberal could like – or drink.

Photos by Katie Sokoler/Gothamist