Cheap Shoes and Election Day Booze

By Beacon Staff

One of the many, many wonderful things about being a reporter in the United States, at this particular moment in history, is that the Beacon e-mail inbox is flooded with all sorts of press releases on a daily basis. But as the election approaches and the economy implodes, those press releases have been arriving from entities the existence of which I never dreamed, like two we received last week, from the Affordable Footwear Coalition and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

These two particular press releases are vastly different in tone, as one jubilantly celebrates the upcoming presidential election, and the other advises the federal government to eliminate an obscure tax on footwear as a part of any economic stimulus package. Taken together, they nicely encapsulate the state of our nation at present.

While the Affordable Footwear Coalition sounds, at first, like a joke, it’s actually comprised of such retailers as Wal-Mart and Payless, and such manufacturers as Nike and Red Wing. And their statement includes an interesting historical tidbit about a tax many of us pay without realizing:

“The so-called ‘shoe tax’ is actually a last vestige of the discredited Smoot-Hawley tariff regime and dates back to the start of the Great Depression. It sharply increases the import cost of shoes. And since approximately 99% of the shoes bought and sold in America are imported, hard-working Americans are paying this tax … every day. For people who are struggling to make ends meet, this hidden tax can add as much as 30% or more to the retail price of a typical pair of children’s shoes.”

That doggone Smoot-Hawley tariff! I thought I’d heard the last of it when Al Gore debated Ross Perot in 1993! Now it’s forcing me to pay more for my boots? (Thank you, Affordable Footwear Coalition, for giving me an excuse to mention the Smoot-Hawley tariff in my blog.)

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States on the other hand, is not concerned with trade agreements, it’s gearing up to party on election night, regardless of whether Barack Obama or John McCain come out on top.

“As Americans gear up for election day,” the release reads, “raise a glass to the one party that has consistently united Americans on both sides of the aisle – the cocktail party!”

To cover its bases, the Spirits Council has concocted some delicious-sounding, and very elaborate drinks for election night. Warning: If, unlike me, you don’t stock Elderflower Liqueur or Biscotti Liqueur in your home bar, you may have some difficulties mixing these at home. Use the money you may be able to save on shoes to stock the bar.

The Maverick
1 oz. Bourbon
3/4 oz. Simple Syrup
3 Lemon Wedges
1/2 of a Ripe Peach
1 oz. Champagne
Directions: Muddle the peach and lemon in the simple syrup. Then add the Rye and ice and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled old fashioned glass. Top off with champagne and garnish with a peach slice.

Cocktail for a Change
1 oz. Gin
1/4 oz. Biscotti Liqueur
1/4 oz. Dry Vermouth
2 dashes Orange Bitters
Directions: Stir ingredients in a mixing glass with cracked ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an orange peel.

Red State Round-Up
1 oz. Reposado Tequila
1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
3/4 oz. Homemade Grenadine**
1/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Egg White
Club Soda
Directions: First, shake the egg white to emulsify. Then add remaining ingredients to cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Top with sparkling water and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and lemon wheel.

**to make home-made grenadine, simply take 1 cup of store-bought pomegranate juice, and 1 cup of superfine sugar, and shake until all the sugar is dissolved.

Blue State Build-Up
1 oz. Light Rum
1 tsp. Blue Curacao
1/2 oz. Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 dash Aromatic Bitters
Directions: Stir ingredients in a mixing glass with cracked ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with 3 floating blueberries.