Wishing all a Happy Scary Halloween, America’s great pagan holiday. Friday is reserved for another post, so this will stand in for The Friday Cocktail Hour. And in the wake of Sandy, many Halloween celebrations are rightly delayed till Sunday, as they are here in Cleveland Heights. Donna loves spiced cider, and since it’s so miserable and cold, she asked if I could make a hot cider drink for her to photograph. Perfect idea to keep the chill out of the body as the tots and teens come ringing with open bags, or simply to warm the soul after this awful week for the American East Coast all the way into the Midwest. This is a simple one, cider reduced by 1/4 with cinnamon and cardamom (I like cloves, but Donna doesn’t), dark rum, bitters, Read On »

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I’ve recently returned from inspiring days at Pigstock, in Traverse City, Michigan, where I and my partner in Salumi, Brian Polcyn, were invited to participate in a celebration of the pig. But we also got to sample wines and spirits made from the abundant fruit that grows in this unique climate. I have, since I first imbibed the crystal elixir, bowed before eau de vie, the aptly named water of life. My first vision of it was in the 1970s when my Uncle Lars arrived at our house with a gift of Poire Williams for my father; astonishingly, there was a pear inside the bottle. I did not get to drink from this as I was 10, and my dad felt that if they could get a pear inside a bottle, it deserved to remain sealed and Read On »

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Excited about our Chicago trip to promote the new book, Salumi, I tweeted for a Chicago cocktail and got a few suggestions (only a few), including one for an actual Chicago (which I’ll save for later). But the suggested Southside proved to be easy to prepare with ingredients at hand and uncommonly refreshing. I was able to make use of a wonderful gin I hadn’t known of, Nolet’s Silver, which truly rivals my beloved Beefeater’s (thank you, Sally Alfis!), slightly more fruity and flowery, but still wonderfully dry. And the mint is still growing in the garden. So, The Southside it is! (Yes, Southside is one word for the cocktail, though the actual area, referred to in the Jim Croce song of my youth, is officially called the South Side.) This cocktail can be made using Read On »

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I was, by chance, in the offices of the venerable publisher Little, Brown with Donna a few weeks ago during a surprise trip to NYC, and the editor I was speaking with about a potential book deal mentioned a cocktail book they’d published the previous fall. He described it. I asked, nay, demanded, to see it. He swiveled around, swiveled back, and there it was. A book that immediately pissed me off. “HEY!” I wanted to say, “THIS IS MY TURF! THIS IS RATIOS!” (If you didn’t know, I wrote a little book called Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. We developed and built a Ratio app for iPhones and iTouches and then we—that is, my friend Will Turnage—built a Ratio app for Android devices.) Ratios simplify all of cooking. Know a ratio and you Read On »

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Today’s cocktail post was inspired by a question on Twitter asking for a good Bloody Mary recipe, and it is indeed a good topic because they are often so mediocre. And it’s not the vodka’s fault this time. It’s rather that the Bloody Mary is carelessly prepared, a fault I am guilty of, especially on a crapulous Sunday morning. So herewith a more thoughtful and refined Bloody Mary worthy of being called a cocktail. The key is fresh tomato juice. V-8 vegetable juice or canned tomato juice is heavy and thick and obscures the other ingredients (which is why many prefer Clamato juice, for a “Bloody Caesar,” a choice I encourage). Now that we have an abundance of huge overripe tomatoes, it’s the perfect time to make your own juice. You want the fiber, but Read On »

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