HOME | ON TAP | Q & A WITH RACHEL MADDOW
Photo courtesy NBC Universal
Most people have heard about Rachel Maddow at this point—either watching her unabashedly left-leaning political news show on MSNBC, or catching her guest appearances on everything from The Colbert Report to The Martha Stewart Show. Maddow also happens to be a hobbyist bartender and a huge fan of classic cocktails. Here she chats with us about rhum agricole, guilty pleasures and what cocktail she'd most like to mix up for Barack Obama.
Imbibe: What’s your most prized possession in your liquor cabinet?
RM: Cuban rum. Shhhh.
Imbibe: We hear you’re a fan of rhum agricole—what’s your favorite cocktail that uses it?
RM: I love a traditional Hemingway with rhum agricole, lime juice, grapefruit juice and maraschino—but if you’re out [of rhum agricole], you can’t really order a Hemingway anymore because that name has been applied to way too many things that really aren’t what I think of as a Hemingway at all. I also quite enjoy an agricole daiquiri made as follows: 1 1/2 oz. rhum agricole blanc (I prefer La Favorite or Neisson), 3/4 oz. lime juice, 1/2 oz. rich simple syrup, with a green Chartreuse float. Yum.
Imbibe: What one drink tool or gadget can you not live without?
RM: I have a tiny, thick cutting board that’s stamped “MADE IN A MAINE STATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY.” It’s the perfect size for cutting citrus without being too much in the way in my tiny kitchen. I only make drinks, I don’t cook—so I have to be cognizant of the need to stay out of the way.
Imbibe: Where’s your favorite place to grab a drink, and what do you order?
RM: I like making drinks even more than I like drinking them—so my favorite thing is to make drinks at home. But in NYC, Pegu Club lures me like a siren song. And my local, Daddy-O, has a great, great cocktail menu and great bartenders. At either, I’m likely to take a bartender’s suggestion, but barring that, my first recourse is usually a rye Old Fashioned, no fruit.
Imbibe: Do you have a favorite drink you like to make at home?
RM: My partner, Susan, loves Audrey Saunders’s recipe for the Tantris Sidecar, which takes me about an hour to make—but because she loves it, I love making it.
Imbibe: When it comes to drinks, do you have any guilty pleasures?
RM: I, like Sarah Palin, love Diet Dr. Pepper. I know it’s wrong. Also: macrobrews. I like totally average, corporate, unfancy American beer in cans.
Imbibe: Have politics and cocktails intersected in any interesting or memorable ways for you?
RM: I’ll never tell. Ha!
Imbibe: If you could make a cocktail for Barack Obama, what would it be?
RM: I've heard that Barack Obama is a martini drinker—maybe that’s apocryphal, but that’s what I’ve heard. I’d make him a Pineau Martini (2 oz. gin, 1 oz. Pineau des Charentes)—I think it’s accessible for martini lovers, but with a novel, tasty twist. And Pineau is such a great weird liqueur with such a great weird story about its discovery—it would make for a good conversation-starter. I’m tempted to suggest an Aviation [with crème de violette] as well—but serving the new Democratic president a blue drink is just too cliché.
Imbibe: What are you drinking with dinner tonight?
RM: Dinner’s at 1 a.m.-ish tonight, so the drink will have to double as my poor man’s Ambien—probably a Whisky Skin (a tiny bit of sugar smushed with lemon rind, scotch and hot water). I’m getting sleepy just thinking about it.