Despite the negativity and hardships of the past year, many people have found the time and desire to learn new skills, develop their creativity, or in the case of Debra Pease and Steve Broom of Sea Isle—both. Initially inspired by Steve’s daily Facebook posts, encouraged by Debra’s thirst for learning, and concocted from a generous pour of extra time with a dash of ennui, Yoda & The Captain: A Pandemic Journal of Cocktails is a delightful local snapshot of an unprecedented world event told through a humorous and hopeful (and drinkable!) lens.
Like most naturally gregarious people, Steve turned to social media during the early days of the pandemic and the shelter-in-place order, as a way to stay connected with friends, family, and fellow islanders. He began with a simple virtual “cheers,” photos of his Bud Light and shot of Jägermeister taken from his deck, against a backdrop of the beautiful West End dunes and a serene Gulf stretching out to the horizon.
He wrote, “Dr. Clark Parker, my personal physician, advised me to take several shots of these a day to help ward off the virus. He said shots, but it was too thick and it wouldn’t come out of the syringe.”
Both Debra and Steve are long-time volunteers and members of the Galveston Lighthouse Charity Team that operates mobile food preparation trailers where they prepare meals for other charitable organizations and emergency responders. Not too long into the shelter-in-place, Debra remembers thinking “We can’t just sit here!”
And so, the couple began to prepare meals for neighbors and Galvestonians in need. For six weeks during April and May of 2020, they prepared 60-70 meals per day. “We would be exhausted by the end of the day,” Debra continues. “We would come in late and have a cocktail to unwind.”
Steve, of course, always took the time to raise his glass to the Facebook world in a photo, documenting his “journey for the right immune drink.” Soon, Debra felt the urge to get more creative and began mixing new and different cocktails for his daily Facebook toast.
“We have spent a lot of time in New Orleans, and I have always watched the bartenders there and the great bartenders at DTO (Daquiri Time Out),” she says. “And you can find anything online, so I started looking up different drinks to make. Then we started to buy different liqueurs and I would search for recipes to make with them.”
Each new cocktail offered something new to learn, from glassware to different tools and methods, as well as the stories and histories behind each one. “It was just one baby step at a time,” Debra remembers, “I definitely didn’t learn everything overnight. It was a gradual accumulation of knowledge.”
“At first, Steve called me his ‘assistant,’” Debra shares with an audible smirk. “I didn’t like that,” she laughs.
Since Steve’s posts were written in the spirit of a captain’s log, he played off his role of Captain to find a new nickname. “I have been informed by my drinking assistant that she wants to be upgraded to co-pilot. I’m now calling her Goose,” he wrote on April 11.
But Debra did not really like that name, either, and insisted that he change it once a friend pointed out that Goose dies. “Steve was grumpy because I didn’t like my nickname ‘Goose,’” Debra explains in the book.
“He said, ‘What the hell do you want me to call you? Yoda?’ I said, ‘Yea, I kinda like that. Yeah!’”
After months of social posts and experimenting with a myriad of recipes and ingredients, Yoda and the Captain decided to compile their newfound knowledge, photos, and daily anecdotes into a book for their fellow cocktail enthusiasts. The book tours a spectrum of stateside and international favorites, from locations as nearby as ‘Nawlins and as far away as Naples and Moscow.
Each recipe is accompanied by Steve’s hilarious witticisms, as well as special preparation and history notes from Debra. She even includes a handy guide at the beginning of the book for distinguishing the various glassware, methods, classes of liquor, and equipment used by professional mixologists.
Steve and Debra also decided from the outset that all of the proceeds from the sale of the Pandemic Journal would be donated to the Lighthouse Charity Team and the local humane society. To date, they have gifted over $3,000 to Lighthouse, part of which was a repayment of their generous financing for the printing of the book. Most recently, they presented the Galveston Island Humane Society with a check for $1,765.
During a time when all of the things Galveston is most known for—its crowds, entertainment, daytime fun and boisterous nightlife—have dissipated, Yoda and the Captain have reminded us that the true beauty of the island is found within its inhabitants. Islanders, those creative, tenacious, energetic souls, will always find a way to shake—or stir—things up.
The printed version of Yoda & The Captain: A Pandemic Journal of Cocktails is available at both Economy Liquor locations (Downtown, 1911 23rd Street or West End, 13655 Termini-San Luis Pass Road) and in the store of the West End Marina (21706 Burnet Drive), or by emailing YodaAndTheCaptain@gmail.com.
Download the PDF version for free at Facebook.com/YodaAndTheCaptain, and look for select, seasonal recipes in upcoming editions of Galveston Monthly.