When it’s really muggy, and I’m fried from work, and stress, and travel, and I just want something cold and guzzlable, inexpensive hooch is the way I go. I’m too much of a cheapskate to waste the expensive stuff on a guzzle, especially one filled with an ocean of tonic and a couple good squeezes of lime. Furthermore, it’s senseless to dilute delicious Beefeater or Hendrick’s (my two favorite gins) with a lot of tonic. And there are days when I simply don’t want to bother with a shaker and egg white, have no desire for a sip of expensive reposado, and don’t have the patience to weigh the goddam bitters—just give me something cold and refreshing that will take the edge off this Friday afternoon brain sizzle, NOW. Fast. Ahh, the Gin and Tonic. Only Read On »

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Friday’s cocktail hour celebrates not simply a classic, but a cocktail that has been horribly debased even during its relatively short life span. Of unverified origins, the Margarita seems to have come into play in the 1940s. But since then, America has trashed it. Served in pitchers of ice. Countless inane variations. Dispensed slushy out of spigots at bad tiki bars. Who invented the frozen margarita? Does anyone know? If drinks were for kids, I’d say, go to town, but adults drinking frozen margaritas, well, I think they’re embracing their inner Popsicle-loving six-year-old (and would be better off with a Popsicle in the afternoon, followed by a cocktail in the evening). We’ve been on a tequila run these past few weeks after our return from Canyon country and will finish here with a classic Margarita, Read On »

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I had my first Paloma in Ixtapa, Mexico, during a blog seminar I was invited to and fell in love with it. I think I had ninety-five before the week was out. By the end of the evening I couldn’t even remember the name. (Though I remember Garrett becomes very talkative after about seven or eight.) I still see the Mexican bartender carefully saying, PAH-LOW-MA to me. I would repeat as best I could, but he could see he’d be repeating himself in a half hour. Now, of course, is not the time to have ninety-five Palomas but one solid one for the cocktail hour. It is HOT, and these are REFRESHING! In fact, exactly as refreshing as the above example looks in Donna’s lovely photo. The Paloma is simply tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda. I’m Read On »

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I’m a coffee cretin (percolator, Starbucks—incorrigible), but I’m a tequila novice newly entranced by this fine spirit. I was introduced to tequila, and its wilder cousin mezcal, in college when we knew only Cuervo. It was a rule between my freshman roommate, John, and me that a top never went back onto the bottle of tequila once opened. And because I unfailingly woke up in the dorm-room bed of some impossible sexy young woman after a bottle of tequila, I believed in the veracity of this rule. But we grow old, tastes develop, and hangovers now last considerably longer than the two or three hours they did in college. In the midwest, the adults were gin and whiskey drinkers, though my dad kept a bottle of Patrón on hand for anyone who might ask. So Read On »

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I’ve loved seeing the mutability of cocktails simply by changing the spirit during these Friday Cocktail Hour posts. This cocktail is in effect a Mint Julep only with rum, therefore called a Mojito. Of course what also distinguishes the mojito from the julep is the lime juice and sugar, the intense sweet and sour. So, does that mean it’s like a whisky sour with mint and rum? Yes, but no egg white. Or like a daiquiri without the mint? All of the above! Regardless, this is a fabulous cocktail to make in the summer when the mint is taking over the garden and the heat calls out for a cooling rum drink. Again, I love the effect of the pulverized mint, the powerful minty flavor it brings to the sweet/sour lime, and the vivid, good-for-you greenness. Old school Read On »

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