Diamond-Back-cocktail@1020

One final cocktail using applejack, simply from a couple of web searches. This is my final post until after Labor Day, so I wanted a cocktail that packed a wallop. With three high-proof spirits, the Diamondback fits the bill. I also wanted something medicinal, so that I stay healthy while I take a late summer break from the blog (alas, I have first pass pages of the new cookbook to scour and the first draft of the next to get off to my venerable publisher Little, Brown). But some break I will be able to take. And it shall begin this evening with the Diamondback, a cocktail with a healthful bite. Chartreuse, a high-test medicinal liqueur made by French monks, needs to be balanced with delicious cherries; in my mind these are a critical component of the Read On »

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Tomsfoolery-1-@1020

Thomas Herbruck’s father came home with a still when Tom was 15; at that tender age he would distill his first spirits along with helping his father make wine from the grapes grown on their one-acre vineyard in Gates Mills, on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio. He would go on, happily, to become a 401(k) plan consultant at a brokerage company here and, with his wife Lianne, father of four. In 1991, Tom bought a 50-gallon prohibition-era moonshine still from a New York farmer. It was just too cool not to. By 2008, he’d navigated the bureaucratic waters of making spirits legally in Ohio, just for home consumption and for friends and others who might share his passion for distilling fermented liquids. But interest was great, and he’d jumped through enough legal hoops that he was Read On »

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Apple-Jack-Sour-cocktail@10

Earlier this summer, I met a friend out in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. (Could a novelist invent a more unlikely name for a town?) It’s semi-rural and on the edge of rural, a quaint town with an actual falls, a candy shop, and Jeni’s Ice Cream. Head out of town, south, and you’re quickly passing farmland. This is where my friend wanted to take me. Just over the edge into the next county, Geauga, off the road a bit, so removed we passed the drive and had to circle back, is a house, a small distillery, and a barn filled with barrels. The distillery is called Tom’s Foolery, started by Tom Herbruck, who, with his wife, Lianne, and their kids, make some exquisite applejack, America’s first commercial spirit, and likely the common drink in the new colonies in the Read On »

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Another glass of gin and tonic please. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Last night, Donna and I sat out on the front porch and had a gin and tonic. It was perfect. The air was perfect. It was quiet, no lawnmowers buzzing. The air had that lovely early evening haze. It was so lovely in fact that neither of us said anything. We just sat. We’d planned this. To have a cocktail at six before I went in to make dinner. And we didn’t say anything. We just sat and enjoyed the air, the perfect temperature. The towering oaks across the street. The lushness all around us. And we enjoyed a gin and tonic, in the above glass, a glass we’d received more 24 years earlier as a wedding gift. It’s the perfect gin and tonic glass, not so small that the gin over powers the tonic, not so large that the Read On »

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swizzle

  In hot and humid NYC last week, we were invited downstairs to our neighbors Tobin (of Hella Bitters) and Jourdan for a cocktail. “I’m mixing swizzles,” he emailed. A perfect summer cocktail if ever there were one. Born centuries ago in the Caribbean, the swizzle is nothing more than booze, sugar, bitters, and soda, with plenty of crushed ice. Ideally you spin the crushed ice with an actual five-prong swizzle stick, made from a native plant, to help the sugar dissolve. (You can buy them at our go-to cocktail supply store, Cocktail Kingdom.) Tobin, a cocktail pro, used both Scotch and gin (in separate drinks; I requested gin, Donna had the scotch version below) along with a fiery Pasilla De Oaxaca bitters. But he noted that any spirit will work, and certainly rum would have been the spirit Read On »

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