A History Lesson With Booze ®

The Tomato Water Bloody Mary

On July 2nd 1881, one Charles Guiteau shot President James Garfield. But it wasn't like Guiteau's life was full of normalcy preceding that murderous act; a delusional meglomaniac, he was also at various times a corrupt lawyer, a writer of plagiarized religious tomes and the member of a free-love cult.

By Published by Keppler & Schwarzmann, signed by James Albert Wales with his reversed initials (Library of Congress) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The History Lesson

This week back in 1881, President James Garfield was assassinated. And Charles J. Guiteau was his crazy murderer, who helped stamp out corruption in Federal Government.

Let’s start with the crazy part. As a teen, Charles flunked his college entrance test, then joined his own Dad in a religious sect that practiced quote “group marriage.” Even in the 19th-century version of a free-love commune, Charles bloated ego and rages were a turn-off. The ladies nicknamed him Charles “Git-OUT.”

So he moved on to sociopathic crime. Guiteau got a gig as a lawyer by listing wealthy Chicagoans as references, even though he’d never met them. He conned his own clients out of money and released a book of theology he’d plagiarized. Pretty soon he did the only logical thing — he got into politics.

At least, in his mind he did. During James Garfield’s presidential campaign, Guiteau wrote a strange, rambling speech supporting the candidate. No one asked him to write it, and he only delivered it twice. But when Garfield won? Guiteau figured the new President owed him. Big time.

Guiteau started showing up at the White House demanding work. He thought he’d make a good General Consul to Vienna. Now, back then most Federal jobs did go to campaign contributors. But usually to sane ones. When the White House rejected Guiteau one too many times, he followed Garfield to a train station and shot him.

Garfield took three months to die. Meanwhile, in prison, Guiteau made plans to run for President! Until he was found guilty and hung. But some good came of it all. Spurred on by the assassination, Congress passed the Pendleton Act. Which requires most federal jobs to be given out based on merit. Not to campaign contributors sane or otherwise.

The Booze

The Tomato Water Bloody Mary

created by Todd Thrasher at Restaurant Eve
Fill highball glass with ice. Add:
– 4 ounces tomato water (recipe below)
– 1 1/2 ounces of vodka
Stir well, garnish with cherry tomato. Momentarily think you’ve gone plumb raving mad.

In food processor combine:
– 4 large beefsteak tomatoes cut into chunks
– 1/2 Serrano chili
– 1/4 red onion
– 3-inch piece of lemon grass, coarsely chopped
– pinch of sugar
– large pinch of salt
Puree until smooth. Pour into cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a bowl, and refrigerate overnight. Discard the pulp. Squeeze the juice of a quartered lemon, lime and orange thru another piece of cheesecloth (to eliminate pulp) and into the clear tomato water. Makes around 20 ounces.