The Late Movies: Drinking With Rachel Maddow

Here's something you probably weren't aware of: when she's not being the outspoken host of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel Maddow is an amateur bartender. I realized this when I decided it was high time I learn a bit more about the fine art of cocktail mixing, and found a lengthy series of videos on YouTube featuring Rachel slinging liquor behind a bar. Now, she's not a master bartender by any means, but her explanations are so clear and cogent that I found them really helpful. I'd read about twenty explanations of how to make an Old Fashioned before I saw Rachel's description, and suddenly it clicked -- duh, it's really simple. So this Late Movies is dedicated to you wannabe cocktail-heads out there. I hope these help you as much as they helped me!

Rachel lays out the basics of the Jack Rose, and gives us a little history lesson about applejack along the way. It was the original American liquor, back when we had more apples to ferment than corn-cobs!

Here's how she makes an Old Fashioned -- the original cocktail, from before cocktails were called cocktails. (Fun fact not included in this video: the cocktail was originally meant to be a hair-of-the-dog morning drink, cock-tail having something to do with cock-a-doodle-doo and waking up and all that.)

Champagne + sugar = super-bubbly fun cocktail. Not just for girls anymore!

The sidecar, one of my favorites. A close relative of the Negroni.

A brief respite from the recipes -- apparently on Rachel's show she has segments called "Cocktail Moments," though I can't really tell what they have to do with drinking (are you supposed to be drinking along with the show at home?) -- other than that RW loves cocktails.

A "perfect" cocktail, with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth. (I have hated dry vermouth for years -- and recently realized this may be due to the fact that I have kept my bottle of dry vermouth in the cabinet rather than the fridge. Apparently vermouth can go bad! I fear many of us are accustomed to the taste of rancid vermouth.)

The gin sling is also a vermouth-based drink. Fun fact: a "sling," like a "fizz" and many other types of drinks, was a separate category of drink completely apart from the cocktail. Only in the 20th century did "cocktail" become a catch-all for mixed drinks.

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College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy
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One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

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North America: East or West Coast?
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