Cold War Cocktails

In honor of this week’s Cold War-themed book review, I decided to craft two cocktails that paid homage to two key Cold War-era summits, the Helsinki Accords of 1975 and the Reykjavik Summit (that’s Iceland) in 1986. Up first was “The Icelandic Daisy” made with Icelandic Reyka vodka, yellow chartreuse, lemon juice, simple syrup, and angostura bitters.  Reyka, which is filtered using spring water that runs through a lava field, is all the rage and deservedly so – I tried a bit of it neat and it’s as smooth  and pleasant as promised.  The cocktail itself offers a very rich, faintly sweet, beautiful taste heavy on the bitters and chartreuse.  I felt it was a little overly bitter in the middle, but good lemon and sugar bookends.  Worth making again.

  • 1.5 oz Reyka Vodka
  • .75 oz Yellow Chartreuse
  • .75 oz lemon juice
  • .5 oz sugar syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

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For my ode to the Helsinki I found the “Red Finnish” via the Finn in my Canadiana blog which uses Finlandia vodka, strawberry brandy (I wasn’t able to find strawberry brandy, so I bought a strawberry creme liquor), lime juice, pomegranate juice, and sugar.  The Finnish was surprisingly good, the strawberry creme dominate the taste and give it a milky, sweet taste off of the lime, pom, and sugar.  With a good vodka bite, the Finnish tastes like an adult version of a strawberry cream candy!

  • 1 oz Finlandia vodka
  • 1 oz Strawberry cream liqueur
  • 1 oz Pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1 tsp sugar

IMG_20151120_230308 (1)

 

This week’s book review is “The End of the Cold War” by noted Oxford historian Robert Service. Service delivers a magisterial history of the last six years of the Cold War and provides many new insights reinforced with well-researched and compelling context.  The narrative is never dull but can get a bit daunting, moving too quickly and impersonally at times.  Overall, I enjoyed the book and the voluminous research behind it. Service is at his best when he describes the collapse of the communist world order: I’ve never read a history that so succinctly and comprehensively addressed the moral and, eventually, the political and military dissolution of Soviet international power.  Little episodes, such as Gorbachev’s ignored invitation to socialist leaders to vacation in 1990 are used well here.  Service also ably describes Gorbachev’s volatile and fractious relationships with the decaying Communist regimes of Eastern Europe.

Additionally, Service’s treatment of high-level Soviet politics and economic dissolution is unrivaled.  The despair and hopelessness which colored Soviet leaders’ flailing attempts to breathe life into their fundamentally flawed system are detailed engagingly.  Service’s treatment of the West, however, is less compelling.  While offering excellent insight into the Thatcher government’s policies and the Beltway battles of Secretary of State George Schultz, I felt there was something lacking in Service’s treatment of the American side of the story.  Compared to the compelling stories of Gorbachev and the Politboro, Service’s American narrative read somewhat incomplete and cursory.  All told, “The End of the Cold War” is a admirable work that will be of interest to even casual readers of modern American or European history.

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