Bonus Cocktail Post – Amarula Liqueur

 

When I posted the Bonus World Elephant Day Cocktail Post, I almost regretted it because I thought, I’ll never have another elephant conservation-related cocktail idea.

 

Wrong! Fake news.

 

Introducing….

 

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Amarula 

 

If you haven’t heard of Amarula (I hadn’t until recently), it’s a liqueur made of sugar, cream, and brandy distilled from the fruit of the Marula tree. The liqueur is made in South Africa.

amarula tree

Marula Tree

 

 

From The Whisky Exchange:

Distilled from the fermented fruit of the Marula tree, a native of the African plains. The spirit is aged for three years, then blended with cream. If you like Bailey’s you should give this a try.

marula fruit

 

 

You can read another good description on The Manual.

 

The most important thing to note about Amarula: it is D E L I C I O U S. It tastes like toffee and caramel with a hint of something weird and wonderful, but it’s not so thick that it feels like drinking glue (Glue is Gross, or, Why I Have Issues With Eggnog). Amarula has really struck the perfect balance of cream/toffee/sweetness/fruit.

 

Elephant Conservation

 

The main reason I am down with Amarula is because the company supports elephant research and local women’s groups in South Africa. They started the Amarula Trust to focus on elephants. The researchers collar and track elephants that are caught up in Human Elephant Conflict (HEC), then they track the elephants’ movements and patterns to help reduce negative run-ins with humans. 

 

amarula trust

 

They also started a campaign recently called Name Them Save Them, where you can choose, design, name, and share a virtual african elephant. I did and named her Louise. #saveLouise

 

Louise

 

The Amarula bottle is sold with a gold tassel around the neck, which is hand-crafted by women at Sir Lowry’s Pass, a poor village nearby in South Africa. These women live in extreme poverty, and some have never worked before. Through this expanding project, the women have access to exercise classes, parenting training, and english classes.

 

How It’s Made

 

My understanding* is that locals in the Limpopo province of South Africa harvest and sell the fruit to the distiller. The fruit is checked for ripeness and then put through a “washing, stoning, and pulping process.” And…

 

From The Scotsman:

“The contribution to the local economy does not end here. The stones are given back to the community because the kernel is an edible nut of the cashew family and the shell can also be used in the production of face cream. Both are useful sources of additional revenue for a far-from-prosperous area.”

 

At some point it’s blended with cream and sugar.

I love that Amarula is a liqueur with social awareness.

 

How To Drink It

 

Like a lot of other websites have said, Amarula is best enjoyed over ice or neat.

 

Some other interesting recipes I stumbled across:

 

These are great (2 out of 3), but I was determined to come up with my own cocktail. So I purchased a bottle and a few other ingredients, and got to work. 

 

 

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Every time I see this photo I think of Beyoncé saying, “Okay ladies now let’s get in formation,” except I say babies instead of ladies. Because baby liquor bottles.

 

 

Since Amarula and Kahlua seem to be considered distant cousins, and I do enjoy a good White or Black Russian, I thought a play on those sounded nice.

 

After hours of practice I ended up with the Russian Rose™. Its deceivingly simple ingredients caused me trouble, but if you break up the steps you end up with a smooth, sort of frothy pastel pink drink. The cocktail is creamy, sweet, and packs a punch. (Note: Amarula uses real, although local, cream. If you usually avoid dairy, proceed with caution).

 

Russian Rose

 

What’s cute is that I tried to mix vodka, Amarula, and a little grenadine together just to taste, and was surprised when the grenadine turned into little specks. When I dumped a little lemon juice into the mixture (not sure why), and the entire concoction turned into a Cement Mixer shot, I realized I had a curdling situation on my hands. No worries, I worked it out for you.

 

Instructions:

 

  1. Shake 1 ½ oz vodka with ¼ oz grenadine. Strain into one of your shaker tins.
  2. Add lots of ice to shaker tin with pink vodka, and start stirrin’. (May need to youtube how to properly to stir cocktail).
  3. While stirring, slowly pour 1 oz of Amarula into vodka/ice. This should prevent curdling. (After tasting, decide if you want to change your ratios to your taste).
  4. Pop the other shaker tin on and shake that mixture. Strain into chilled martini glass.
  5. Enjoy!

 

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The grenadine should add color, not too much taste. The Amarula is sweet enough without it. Honestly, I just wanted vodka and Amarula.. But.. pink.

 

We got lucky with this liqueur, folks. If it was, say, Sambuca, mushrooms, or eggnog wanting to help elephants, I would really be in an ethical dilemma. Taste-testing would not be quite as fun.

 

If all else fails, just throw some Amarula in your coffee. Taste-tested and approved by me.

 

I hope you enjoy reading, dreaming, and wistfully thinking about this cocktail, and I hope you name and save an elephant!

 

Keep Calm if you Can

5 Reasons We Should Care About Animals, or, Why Is An Elephant Like An Oyster?

Dear Reader,

 

Before this blog (blawg?) gets into laws and regulations and such, I want to first touch on a philosophical question common in the animals rights/welfare movement.

 

WHY?

 

Why should we care about animal welfare and/or animal rights?

 

First, the welfare vs. rights distinction.

Welfare just gives humans a duty to make sure animals are well cared for. It establishes sort of a mutually beneficial relationship that started way back when everyone was a farmer. There is a body of thought that welfare comprises these “Five Freedoms,” and as long as these are checked off, everyone is good.

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst
  2. Freedom from discomfort
  3. Freedom from pain, injury, or disease
  4. Freedom to express normal behavior
  5. Freedom from fear and distress

So, animal welfare still allows humans to use animals for their meat, skins, etc.

 

Animal rights activists generally disagree with the use of animals for any reason, even if the animal is cared for in a “humane” way. The basis of this belief is that animals possess intrinsic value, and are not just valuable for what benefits they provide to humans.

 

Note: Beware the groups that demonize animal rights activists. Every social movement has its extremists, and not all animal rights activists want to take your pets away. Don’t believe everything the NAIA tells you. Seriously what is with the graphic at the bottom.

 

The main difference is that the animal welfare movement stills allows for the use of animals for human benefit, and animals rights movement aims to give animals legal rights and more autonomy.

 

Elephants & the Law’s position is that animals deserve better legal status, because they are valuable in their own right. Obviously not the same legal status as an adult human, although I do think my cat should be able to vote. She’s Lib-purr-tarian…

 

Animals are not ours to use freely, but we should be able to coexist with them, and use what they provide for us if our use does not cause harm. We should be smart enough to know where to draw the line.

 

But still, why do we even care?

 

Five Reasons

Because animals are valuable in their own right.

 

 

 

If you have the time, I would suggest reading Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation or Practical Ethics. Both were published a while ago but the philosophy behind his arguments is timeless.

 

               Peter-Singer-Animal-Liberation-Book         Practical_Ethics,_1980_edition

 

His argument starts with Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarianist view that the test for whether animals matter is whether they can suffer. Peter Singer builds on that test, explaining something that he termed “equal consideration of interests.” Basically, if an animal can experience pain and suffering, then that animal is worthy of consideration. That animal has an interest in not suffering, and that interest should be weighed equally with the interests of humans. Because no one wants to suffer.

 

Animals exist in their own complex universes, innocently concerned with not hurting, starving, or being eaten. We have no place ranking their importance in our universe.

 

But, while we’re on Bentham and the question “Why?”…

jeremy-bentham-remains

Why?

Click here for an explanation

Because we are compassionate beings.

 

If you really need a reason to care about animal welfare or rights, this is a pretty good one.

 

What is compassion? Google says: “Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others”

 

So suffering and misfortune provokes a compassionate response in humans. Well, animals – elephants in particular – are experiencing suffering and misfortune constantly. And we just can’t plead ignorance anymore.

 

We are compassionate to other humans (hopefully), so why not every living thing?

 

Because caring about animals makes us better.

 

“He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”

Immanuel Kant

Caring for animals makes makes us better in a lot of ways, not just our health. ( I know some people are like ew Huffington Post, but the author of this article is a well-known neurologist and a very reputable animal advocate. Check out Aysha Akhtar on TedX!)

Caring for animals makes us a more compassionate, progressive, sustainable society.

And less violent.

There are a lot of studies about the link between animal abuse and domestic violence Studies show that abusing animals during childhood is an indicator of violence later in life. This article suggests that children who do abuse animals have probably witnessed domestic or animals abuse themselves. What a terrible cycle.

So, if we turn this around, then maybe showing animals compassion during childhood is an indicator that one will show animals and humans compassion throughout one’s life. Maybe loving elephants is an indicator that one is not a serial killer? Would this hold up in court? Asking for a friend.

 

Because a world without elephants would SUCK.

Question: Why is an elephant like an oyster? (credit: IFAW)

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Answer: Both are “keystone” species. “This means that if the species were to disappear from the ecosystem, no other species would be able to fill its ecological niche.” 

And other reasons. And other other reasons.

 

But, most importantly, elephants are valuable in their own right, remember? They are valuable because they exist. They are beautiful, intelligent, friendly, vegetarians, and a world without them would be so, so, sad. Because a world without elephants reflects on our apathy to their suffering. For what? Little ivory statues? One of my friends from law school often says, “Is everyone okay?” Seriously.

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And finally,

Because progress is important.

 

Because progress on animal rights reflects progress on equality in general.

 

Equality is about more than race, sex, or whatever humans seem to think. Equality is about an open mind, about consideration, about realizing the world doesn’t revolve around one person or one species. Progress on one front means we’re going in the right direction.

 

“The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.”

– Alice Walker.

YES ALICE. By the way, Alice Walker is an author and civil rights activist – not an animal rights activist. She might not be vegan, and that’s her business. This is a good quote and a sentiment that resonates with me.   

There is a common argument against animal activism that says it’s wrong to put time and energy towards animal rights when humans are suffering. But, like I said, progress on one front is progress in general. This article about a human rights activist-turned-animal-rights-activist is another good response.

I just love this:

Of course this is the dominant mentality, based on a presumed superiority of humans, so much so that the slightest harm to a human is often seen to outweigh a tremendous harm to an animal. Given that the capacity to suffer is in no way limited to human beings, this bias in favor of humans is simple prejudice, favoring those we perceive as similar over those we perceive as different and therefore inferior, the hallmark of all discrimination and oppression.”

 

Basically, equality is important, and progress towards equality is essential. And that includes animal equality. It doesn’t mean building mansions for mice, it just means letting them live in peace. It’s not that difficult!

 

Thanks everyone!

 

World Elephant Day Bonus Cocktail Post!

Elephant-inspired cocktail…!?

Wow! What? Is she insane? Yes.

Random, but tasty!

I warned you this blog would start out as a bunch of things.

Anyway, I started bartending again when I moved to DC last year, and have been very fortunate to have had access to the best ingredients. Fresh produce and high quality spirits make a huge difference.

With World Elephant Day approaching, I figured an elephant-inspired cocktail would be appropriate. The only connection I could come up with between an elephant and a cocktail was the color gray. And I love a lavender/purplish-silver-gray color, so that’s what I was aiming for.

Purple ingredient? Crème de Violette. What do you make with Crème de Violette? An Aviation Cocktail. Put a little spin on it and you’ve got…

Elephants on a Plane

I already know the name is stupid, but I’m in charge. So, it’s staying.

One more thing before I give you guys the recipe. Elephants on a Plane™ calls for one egg white, which I don’t personally care for, and maybe a lot of my readers will be vegans or want to avoid egg whites. I suggest replacing it with chickpea brine, called “aquafaba.” Aquafaba means “bean water,” which is cute. I have not tried it yet, and we did not stock it at the bar. I have read that it is a better replacement for egg white in cocktails. So I’m putting it in this recipe.

Just in case you’ve never used egg whites in cocktails before (I hadn’t until I moved here), just a minute before you turn your nose up like I did. Egg white/aquafaba is a common ingredient in certain cocktails, mainly fizzes and sours. It doesn’t change the taste, it only gives the drink a frothy, silkier texture. And it looks pretty, too.

Without further rambling, I give you..

Elephants on a Plane

First… Tools!

cocktail post toolsedited
You don’t absolutely have to have all of these tools – I have shaken cocktails in water bottles before. But I think, if you have Creme de Violette lying around, you probably have a shaker tin. Be creative if you need to.

Ingredients!

cocktail post ingredients**See Super Bonus Recipe at the end of this post.

Finally… Steps! 

  1. Use peeler to cut a lemon peel for your garnish. Set aside. *Make sure to do this first, so that you only use one lemon. #SavetheLemons
  2. Put ice water in martini glass to chill it
  3. Cut lemon in half
  4. Squeeze lemon juice into small measuring cup, to ¾ ounce line
  5. Add aquafaba to measuring cup, and pour contents into shaker tin.
  6. Add remaining three ingredients
  7. Seal shaker tin and dry shake (shake without ice) for like 15 seconds
    **This “emulsifies” the egg white. The citrus sort of cooks the egg white so it loses the ability to make you sick. Aquafaba won’t make you sick in the first place.
  8. Add ice to shaker tin, reseal, and shake for at least thirty seconds, definitely until condensation forms on the outside of the tin. Feel free to check inside the tin to see your froth progress. Reach desired level of frothiness and stop shaking.
    **Tip, if you want to UP your froth game like never before, strain your cocktail into an extra glass, dump out your ice, and return the cocktail to the shaker tin. Dry shake again. This is known as triple shaking, and it will make your arms tired.
  9. Fine strain//double strain into your martini glass or coupe.
  10. Squeeze lemon peel, yellow side down, over the cocktail, twist, and drop it in. The oils from the citrus make a big difference! (I did a lemon spiral in these photos, and it is prettier but not as effective.)

And voila, you’ve made a time-consuming but delicious cocktail, and you’re celebrating elephants! Look at you!
close up cocktail

**SUPER BONUS RECIPE ~~

If you don’t have maraschino liqueur, or you want to branch out even further, you can make Elephants on the Moon™!

“Wow”  “what’s that?”  “I want one”

Okay, okay. This is my own elephant-inspired variation on the Blue Moon, which is a variation on the Aviation. Cocktail inception!

For this recipe, follow the same nonsense listed above, but omit the maraschino liqueur and replace it with a ½ ounce of simple syrup. The cocktail will turn out to be more of a bluish-gray than a lavender-gray, but still delicious and totally worth the effort. If you don’t have simple syrup, then still omit the maraschino, and add another ¼ ounce of Crème de Violette, for a total of ½ an ounce.

Thank you all again for checking out Elephants & the Law. Enjoy World Elephant Day 2017 wherever you are! See you next time!

The State of the Elephant

Dear Reader,

Happy World Elephant Day 2017!

Thank you for visiting Elephants and the Law. Elephants are the most magnificent creatures on our planet. Countless individuals work to protect and conserve the species every day, and this website will discuss legal, political, and moral issues that affect those efforts. This will be a learning experience for me, so hopefully we can work through some of these issues together. I certainly appreciate suggestions and questions from all of you.

This blog might start out being a lot of different things, but, with time and feedback, I hope to grow it into a blog that is really good at just a few things. I am also going to try to photograph and draw everything myself, because I don’t understand stock photos, so, bear with me. Until I reach blog enlightenment, though, the basic purpose of this website is to

  1. inform all of you guys,
  2. stimulate open-minded discussion,
  3. encourage action, and
  4. hopefully add a compassionate angle to the way the reader thinks about animals in general- while using the elephant as the primary example.

Why? Because elephants are dope.  

This debut post will cover the following topics:

  1. Why Elephants Are Neat
  2. The State of the Elephant
  3. What We’re Doing (Wrong)
  4. How We Can Do Better

 

Why Elephants Are Neat

Besides the fact that baby elephants are super relatable (see below), elephants are magnificent for so many reasons.

baby elephant tantrum

Same.

Elephants are self-aware

Elephants are part of the small group of “self-aware” species that currently only includes elephants, dolphins, monkeys, and us. That is hugely indicative of elephant intelligence. I know some humans that could use a little more self-awareness, if you know what I mean.

Elephants comfort each other

Like humans, elephants comfort each other through physical contact with their trunks – elephant “hugs,” if you will.

Elephants stick with their families for life

Fact: the elephant divorce rate is 0%. An elephant herd consists of a matriarch, her daughters, and her daughters’ daughters. And they stick together forever. The herd allows the male elephants to hang out until age 12 – 15, then the male gets the boot. Yasss ladies.

Elephants mourn their dead and celebrate births

This indicates that elephants have a concept of loss and new life. The fact that they grieve like we do is so relatable. Here, I made a sad drawing to illustrate.

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Don’t you want a custom sad elephant sketch? Ask for one here!

Elephants exhibit signs of distress

Elephants in captivity exhibit behaviors that do not exist in the wild, such as pacing, gnawing, bobbing their heads, and swaying. Elephants also experience post-traumatic stress indicators. This NYT article is a favorite of mine and talks about this – either read or save for later. 

Elephants and Humans have similar histories

Elephants and humans evolved “in parallel” hundreds of thousands of years ago. In fact, some bodies of research show that elephants were around long before humans were. Respect!

ELEPHANTS ARE AFRAID OF BEES

Guys, this is super important information. They are afraid of humans and bees. I am also afraid of humans and bees. And I didn’t think I could love them any more.

Elephants do have great memories

Don’t worry, Shirley and Jenny will have their own post on Elephants and the Law. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Shirley n Jenny

Okay, I’m crying, too.

statue

Buying this.

Elephants are a “keystone species”

More on this later, but elephants help maintain the biodiversity of the ecosystems in which they live. They even poop out seeds that grow into new grass, bushes, and trees. Incredible.

The State of the Elephant

Elephants are in big trouble.

There are technically three species of elephants – the African savanna elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant. For our purposes, this site will group the forest and savanna elephants together.

The African elephant population was estimated at approximately 26 million in the 1500s – down to a staggering 600,000 in 1989. Estimates range from 400,000 – 700,000 African elephants, and between 35,000 – 40,000 wild Asian elephants today. These numbers are so low already, and elephants are dying every day.

Dr. Mark Chase heads up the Great Elephant Census, which was funded by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. This project is meant to show where elephants live. According to the Economist, this is the “most extensive count of a wild species ever attempted.” It’s sad but really, really cool.

Diminishing populations are due to three main factors, the biggest and most horrifying factor being poaching for ivory and meat. Second, elephants are being pushed out of their natural habitat by exploding human populations (exploding humans?!). This means elephants and humans are coming into contact more often. For example, elephants are eating villagers’ crops, which may be the villagers’ only sources of income. Diminishing resources means that one species will suffer as the other thrives.

The third big threat to elephants is their use in entertainment, including their capture and sale to zoos, circuses, and the tourism industry.

  • While circuses are starting to give up their elephants due to public pressure, zoos are still keeping elephants in captivity.
  • While some zoos claim to promote research and conservation, they actually have the opposite effect. Shameless plug, I discuss this topic in my paper.   
  • Entertainment includes trophy hunting of elephants. Elephant trophy hunting is disgusting, especially since the elephant species has been threatened/endangered for such a long time.
  • Also, regarding tourism, elephant back rides might not be the innocent elephant bonding experience we all hoped. See this article and also this article. Stay woke, everyone.

What We’re Doing (Wrong)

Thankfully, there are countless organizations that aim to protect and conserve the elephant species. There are also parks, reserves, and sanctuaries where elephants are legally protected. There are international and national laws and regulations banning the trade of ivory, and efforts to stop poaching are increasing every day. Even for elephants in captivity, at least in the U.S., local, state, and federal laws and regulations allegedly promote elephant welfare and conservation.

So, why are elephants still disappearing?

Two big reasons.

Market for Ivory

Poaching is already illegal, so no ivory ban is going to stop it. If there is a market for ivory, then you bet someone is going to cash in. The trade is most alive in China, where animal welfare is sort of lagging, as well as in Japan and Thailand. And some ivory consumers claim to “not know” where the ivory actually comes from. Apparently more than one consumer here and here thought ivory “grew back like a fingernail.” Why would it be so valuable? What? Is this pers…. I can’t.

Human-Elephant Conflict

Because of diminishing resources and increasing contact between elephants and humans in African countries, some villagers view elephants as nuisances and don’t care if the species survives. This contributes to the lack of cooperation and continued poaching of elephants.

How We Can Do Better

There are so. many. ways. We can do better globally, nationally, and individually.

Globally

International bodies should crack down on poaching, but that is expensive and requires cooperation among countries. Logistically, we need better surveillance, cooperation, and evidence-gathering, for poachers to be brought to justice.

Additionally, because human-elephant conflict is most intense where the economy stinks, conservation efforts should target these economies. If we invest in the economies and people of these villages and countries, we can stop their dependence on the crops or livestock that elephants may threaten. But we have to change our strategy.

In the US

The US and other countries where elephants are not a native species should ban the import of elephants altogether unless the elephants are headed, as a very last resort, to a sanctuary. An *actual sanctuary, not a Ringling Brothers Fake Sanctuary. But, in reality, that should never be necessary. There is no reason for elephants to come to the US, and the dollars that are spent bringing them here would go much further funding conservation efforts in their native countries.

Individually

We can change the way we think about elephants and other large species. If we take on the perspective of an elephant, or tiger, or giraffe; if we are aware of their needs and their similarities to us; then we will naturally recoil at the site of them in captivity. We should cringe at the exploitation of intelligent animals in which circuses engage. We should be furious that zoo elephants have less than an acre to inhabit, when they are known to walk 30 miles a day in the wild.

We should do the following:

  • Support a worldwide ivory ban;
  • Refuse to visit circuses that still exhibit animals;
  • Refuse to engage with tourist attractions abroad that feature elephants;
  • Refuse to visit zoos with large animal habitats;
  • Continue to publicly shame those that hunt elephants and other endangered species for sport (seriously?);
  • Put pressure on those groups that contribute to the exploitation of large species; and
  • If you have the resources, contribute in some way to the mission of organizations that work to conserve and protect this and other large species. I hope to have a page with a comprehensive list of these organizations soon.

When my passion for elephants was budding, I read Lawrence Anthony’s book, The Elephant Whisperer. In it, Mr. Anthony says “Perhaps the most important lesson I learned is that there are no walls between humans and elephants except those that we put up ourselves, and that until we allow not only elephants, but all living creatures their place in the sun, we can never be whole ourselves.” Practicing compassion is essential for healthy relationships among humans, and when compassion and human decency fail, the law should intervene.

Thanks so much for reading. Stay tuned for a World Elephant Day Bonus Post Surprise. Then, I’ll be posting again next Thursday!