Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

What cocktail to offer on Independence Day, the day some of the greatest political minds signed the document outlining the most secure and fair methods of governance, formally and with uncommon eloquence and foresight, and obliterating all ties with Great Britain? I suggest a smash, connoting demolition and also one of our country’s oldest cocktails, featuring one of our oldest spirits. I do so after consulting Brad Thomas Parsons, whose book Bitters I continue to admire. Responding to my email, he wrote: “Cocktails were born in America, but for that question, I guess I’m thinking less of an iconic drink like an Old-Fashioned or a Manhattan or a Martini, and instead, as it’s the Fourth of July, thinking about a spirit with heritage—something the American colonists might be drinking. Something like applejack or apple brandy. Laird & Company is America’s Read On »

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Corpse-Reviver-2-X3

  My Standard Bartender’s Guide (1959 edition) lists three separate corpse revivers, with #1 featuring brandy and vermouth, and #3 lemon, Pernod, and champagne. But #2 seems to get the most attention, because in all likelihood it’s the best. Its acidity is bracing, refreshing; the Lillet and Cointreau give it complexity and the gin gives it some punch. Its name suggests that it is used to revivify one after over-imbibing, which is a good strategy in the short term, and not so much in the long. Evelyn Waugh had a concoction he called his “Noontime Reviver,” the recipe of which I am still seeking. I wholly encourage this lovely cocktail at the appropriate evening hour for the reasons stated above; it’s an excellent cocktail. Most recipes for the drink call for a drop or two Read On »

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Martini-Not-stirred-cocktai

On September 24, 1993, I walked out of the offices of the publisher Henry Holt, having just gotten my first book contract. Donna was with me to share my elation. It was my dad’s 55th birthday (he shared that day, BTW, with my literary hero, though not role model, Scott Fitzgerald)—an auspicious day. We could hardly believe it. Even Donna said it out loud to herself, a little incredulously, “My husband has a book contract.” I was thirty and had been trying to write books for nine years and had been writing daily since sixth grade. We walked uptown to tell a friend the good news. I was sure I’d get hit by a bus. That’s me. When something this good happens, something worse has to happen as well. On Park Avenue, a taxi with a flat Read On »

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Stinger-cocktail-@1020

Friday Cocktail Hour today is devoted to the memory of my dad, who hated to see guests leave and always asked if they’d stay for a nightcap, saying, “Can I make you a Stinger?” The Stinger, a cocktail that dates to the early 20th century is a combination of brandy and crème de menthe, indeed a refreshing cocktail after a meal. Rip would have used an inexpensive brandy for this mixed drink and he always served them over crushed ice (we owned an actual crusher that sat on the back kitchen counter next to the toaster oven and the Mr. Coffee). But it’s also a drink, according to The Philadelphia Story (one of my favorite movies), that is a great hair-of-the-dog solution. This I’ve never tried, but surely in the future shall. My father died of Read On »

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Metropolitan-Cocktail@1020

Last week’s delicious Sidecar got me onto drinks featuring brandy. This, combined with my interest in how changing the spirit changes the name, brings me to today’s cocktail (photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman), the Metropolitan. The Manhattan is a beloved Ruhlman family cocktail; the Metropolitan is essentially a Manhattan made with brandy. This is a delicious cocktail, made especially fine with these genuine maraschino cherries. Donna says a single one of them can be considered an entire dessert. Indeed, this is a garnish that truly completes this cocktail, which is a complex mixture of brandy, sweet vermouth, bitters, a small bit of simple syrup, and the cherries. I’m happy again to feature Hella Bitters, from my downstairs neighbor in New York, Tobin Ludwig, currently visiting Cleveland I’m proud to note—and what a glorious day it Read On »

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