I love bitters for the complexity they bring to any drink, or situation in life for that matter, and I use them with a heavy hand in cocktails. One of my favorite cocktails is the Old-Fashioned (see below), so simple, so satisfying: whiskey, sugar, bitters. But what exactly are bitters? You don’t really know until you make some yourself. Bitters are simply flavor extractions. Happily, our neighbor Tobin Ludwig is one of the founders of Hella Bitters, which makes a variety of splendid bitters (about 1500 bottles a month), and he gave me a quick lesson in their making. “I totally encourage people to make their own bitters at home,” Tobin told me this summer. “It’s a fun experiment.” There is a single key to bitters: the bittering agent itself, most commonly angelica root or Read On »

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When I opened to the Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s wonderful and expanded food section, I was delighted to find a handful of bartenders offering cocktails. The Derby, offered by Lindsey Hawes, who mixes drinks at The Willeyville in the Cleveland Flats, caught my eye (here she is making another fave of mine, The Dark & Stormy). The Derby  caught my eye for its straightforwardness and lack of frou. I immediately thought of the Brown Derby, a restaurant chain that flourished here in the 1970s, where I first encountered what was called a salad bar, back in the pre-sneeze guard days (God, how I long for the simpler times when people didn’t freak out about bacteria and rub sanitizing gel on their hands every five minutes). Potatoes came foil wrapped (an actual botulism worry, in fact). Butter Read On »

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British mixologisits are concocting some very interesting cocktails using beer, via Independent UK.

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Today’s cocktail is a new one for me, via Emilia via Pableaux (see below). It’s a sherry and fruit cocktail from the early 19th century called a Cobbler. A Google search will give you all sorts of spirit-based “cobblers,” but how they differ from a basic whiskey cocktail is, well, they don’t. So let’s keep the term clean! A cobbler is a sherry-based cocktail! And truly refreshing!—M.R. by Emilia Juocys Friday Cocktail Hour is probably one of my favorite weekly segments I have been part of since I began working with Michael and Donna. Every week I get to learn a new classic cocktail or an interesting variation. Since living in Chicago I have been blessed with not only a fantastic food scene, but also a thriving mixology scene. I’m constantly tempted to have multiple “happy Read On »

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Mint is still in full flourish here and, having just had two splendid events in Chicago (and one in Milwaukee) I’m reposting this most excellent cocktail occasioned by a visit to the windy city by Brian Polcyn and me on behalf of the newly published Salumi. This time it was to promote Charcuterie, the updated version (and The Book of Schmaltz). After a really fun conversation with Chandra Ram at Balena to a house packed with cooks young and old, a young man approached me with a new Charcuterie to sign, explaining, “This is the first Charcuterie I’ve bought because every kitchen I’ve ever worked in already had it.” Todd Moore, chef de cuisine at Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro in Milwaukee, told a filled room the impact the book has had on chefs, and I wanted to Read On »

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