GOOD

Buy You a Drink: A Cocktail for Swallowing Zuckerberg’s Billions

Zuckerberg stands to make $28 billion. I think the rest of us deserve a drink.


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Welcome to Buy You a Drink, where GOOD's resident mixologist offers a free libation to one thirsty newsmaker each week. This time: Facebook's boyish billionaire.

“We have never been a nation of haves and have-nots. We are a nation of haves and soon-to-haves, of people who have made it and people who will make it,” Sen. Marco Rubio said late last year. “Americans have never been a people to drive through a nice neighborhood and say, ‘Oh, I hate the people that live in these nice houses.’ Americans have been a people that drive through a nice neighborhood and say, ‘Congratulations on your nice house. Guess what? We will be joining you soon.’”

I was certain that Marco Rubio was full of shit. Americans of every generation have afforded themselves the occasional scowl at those upon whom fortune seems to smile, and most of us know what it’s like to shake our fists at whatever mansion (or McMansion) we might drive past at the end of a particularly frustrating shift. Rubio seems to forget that at the beginning of the 20th century, Americans bought Luigi Galleani’s books and attended his speeches right up until he got deported for bombing Wall Street. (Galleani’s favorite cocktail? Molotov. I’m here all week!) By the end of the 20th century, Americans had made “Eat the Rich” a hit single for Aerosmith.

I felt especially sympathetic toward Occupiers and Galleanists when I read that Facebook’s IPO could net founder Mark Zuckerberg a cool 28 billion dollars. Twenty-eight billion dollars is too much money. It’s .001 Percent money. Z-Ro would say, “that count-so-much-of-it-I-can’t-feel-my-hands money.”

I contemplated offering Mr. Zuckerberg a celebratory beverage. My thoughts flew to the things he can afford to drink: $90,000 Melchizedeks of Champagne, €400 Sidecars made with pre-phylloxera Cognac. My hands balled involuntarily into fists. Then I remembered cocktail scholar David Wondrich’s thoughts about social mobility. “Drinking is ‘aspirational,’ to use the buzz-word current in magazine circles for ‘reading about things that you'll never be able to afford or are too chicken to do,’” Wondrich says. “Thus single-malt Scotch stands in for that grouse range in Scotland, Rebel Yell bourbon the pole position at Daytona, and so forth.”

Mr. Wondrich helped me see the dash of truth muddled into Rubio’s remarks. If we’re not drinking to pine for a bygone era, we’re imbibing to imagine a brighter future. For as long as Americans have gathered in taverns, the promises of capitalism have been lubricated by the power of ardent spirits. Cocktails can convince us put aside class warfare in favor of imagining ourselves as Zuckerbergian elites for whom too much money ain’t enough money.

So this week, I propose raising a Millionaire Cocktail over raising a fist, to help all of us “soon-to-haves” imagine that we own just a few shares of Facebook. Fortunately, folks have been calling out “Barkeep, make me a Millionaire!” since at least the Great Depression.

The Call: Gold Diggers of 1937

Which Millionaire Cocktail is worth its Troy weight? The Savoy Cocktail Book lists two tipples by that name, plus a “Million Dollar Cocktail” (presumably the brainchild of a DiBiase ancestor). The 1937 recipe book The How and When lists four Millionaire Cocktails.

I whipped up three different versions of the Millionaire at home. Surprisingly, the clear winner dates from our current economic crisis. The fine fellows from Employees Only in New York City put their spin on the bourbon-based How and When recipe, and I put my spin on their spin:


Millionaire Cocktail, as adapted from Speakeasy by Jason Kosmas & Dushan Zaric

2 oz. Knob Creek Maker’s Mark 46 bourbon
¾ oz. Grand Marnier
1 egg white [or if you’re making several, 1 egg white for every two drinks is enough]
½ oz. homemade Grenadine Slightly more than ¼ oz. Rose’s grenadine
¼ oz. Ricard pastisSt. George absinthe
½ oz. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Freshly grated nutmeg

Pour all ingredients except nutmeg into a mixing glass. Add large cold ice cubes and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the nutmeg.

The Employees Only Millionaire is “whiskey-forward” (that’s Kosmas and Zaric’s tasting note, and I fully concur) but well-balanced, with layers of flavor that are both harmonious and just jarring enough to inspire flights of prosperous fancy. As you can see from my alterations, it works whether you use pastis or real-McCoy absinthe, grenadine made from organic pomegranates you grew yourself or the iridescent sweet stuff on your supermarket shelf. Do grate your own nutmeg, though, if you can. It makes all the difference for the aroma you’ll waft off of the egg white foam.

What’s cooler than a Millionaire Cocktail? Speakeasy also contains a Billionaire Cocktail, for which Kosmas and Zaric substitute 107-proof Baker’s for the base bourbon, omit the Grand Marnier, and trade the pastis/absinthe for a homemade setup they call “Absinthe bitters.” Despite the more Zuckerbergian name, I did not attempt to make the Billionaire at home. The Absinthe bitters required experimenting with several cups of Pernod 68 absinthe at a time. Since Pernod 68 retails for upwards of $70 a bottle, this proved cost-prohibitive for soon-to-haves like myself.

Not to worry, though. I promise to update you on the merits of the Billionaire Cocktail the moment I start pulling down that Zuckerberg money. I can feel that day getting closer with every sip.

Send your favorite tales of class warfare or social mobility, or your favorite cocktail that ought to be garnished with a monocle, to Ken at mixologymailbag@gmail.com.

Zuckerberg photo via (cc) Flickr user deneyterrio. Cocktail photo by Adrienne Moon.

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