Casting about for a cocktail high in bitters to make use of some of my own personal blend, and one with gin, because that’s what the evening wanted, I happened on this distinctive cocktail, so high in bitters it can clearly fill in for a post-prandial digestif. It was created by Don Lee several years ago at Ssäm Bar in NYC, inspired by Chef Wylie Dufresne, and named for that chef’s daughter. Served to the writer Brad Parsons, it wound up in Parsons’s bitters book. I love bitters for the complexity they bring to a drink, this one very much in the sour category with its dose of fresh lime juice. It’s become one of my favorite cocktails. If you don’t have citrus bitters (or your own bitters), use what’s on hand. This can be mixed Read On »

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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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I pay for a service called SaneBox to deal with email overload, so much of it mass PR mail. Somehow a diligent soul, Sally Alfis of M Booth, who represents the company’s spirit clients, got though the barricades. Having seen my Friday cocktail hour posts, she asked if she could send me some premium hooch. I never turn down free premium hooch. Thus, the most excellent rum in the photo (it’s very good). Surprisingly, though, she continues to read Friday posts and, following my hasty Negroni post (no link, Donna unhappy with photo), sent me a new cocktail made by Scott Fitzgerald (no, relation, though he does beat on, like all the rest of us boats) of the Mulberry Project in NYC. What got me about Fitzgerald’s lovely cocktail was its variation on a personal fave, the Negroni (thus Sally’s clever suggestion—she Read On »

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I’m old-fashioned, I admit, and this is another Friday cocktail post devoted to classic cocktails. It’s not because I’m nostalgic (though I am). It’s because classics are classics for a reason: they’re good. There’s a reason you don’t have a Swanson’s TV dinner in your freezer but will never tire of a well-made Martini. My dad was a Martini man. He was also an Ad Man (who actually looked a lot like Don Draper), a creative director at a Cleveland ad firm where I interned the summer after my freshman year of college. He was a gin drinker. I still remember my first revulsion at gin. I asked him what he had in that plastic cup of his. He told me it was a Martini. Go ahead, he said, taste it. I did. How on Read On »

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Phew! I’m exhausted from all the amazing and powerful energy generated by the food fascism post! Oy! Time for a cocktail! (Figuratively—I’ve got long hours to go before I earn mine.) Today’s Friday cocktail hour is one the oldest and simplest on record. In this era of high-end mixology and complex recipes involving expensive aperitifs and liqueurs, well unless out in the stratosphere at Aviary, I like my cocktails simple. The Old-Fashioned is just that: American whiskey, sugar, bitters, over ice with a twist. All there is to it. With the range of bourbons and bitters now available, the drink itself can vary wildly and well. So even though this is every bit as simple and satisfying as a martini, it’s infinitely more complex. A martini is clear and clean, an ice pick. The Old-Fashioned is complex, caramelly, Read On »

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