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 »

Share

  All I wanted for my fiftieth birthday was to eat all the lobster I could, with a good white wine and a Blanton’s bourbon after. I remember when my mom turned fifty because Donna insisted on doing something special for her, while I lamely lay in bed, scratching my head (within the hour she’d marshaled friends and chartered a plane to Key West for lunch). My dad did a fifty-mile bike ride on his fiftieth with his girlfriend Pat; she was incensed by the arduous journey (“Rip,” she hissed, “you don’t need a woman, you need a machine,” to which he replied, “I just realized it’s my fiftieth birthday”). They were so much older, fifty an impossibly remote age to me, a 25-year-old. Yet here I am now, on that very day. In a wistful Read On »

Share

In honor of the noble city of Charleston, SC, which I sadly depart today, I repost a drink I associate with the South. I had a rather tough go with my first julep experience (below), but I’ve come to regard it as one of my favorite cocktails, especially now as the mint has sprouted and the weather has warmed. I must must must thank four souls who have made this thirteen-hour shoot not seem like even an eight-hour day, owing to the fact that they have been spending eighteen-hour days prepping out the six demos I’m filming for Le Creuset. These souls are, of course, the cooks. Nick Garcia, sous chef at Kiawah Island Club. He’s been the ace chef de cuisine. On the other end Tyler Osteen (@jtosteen), jack of all or at least Read On »

Share

This is a boldly flavored cocktail created by my chef, Michael Pardus, who teaches the cuisines of Asia at the Culinary Institute of America. Flavors galore—Meyer lemon, vanilla, ginger, American whiskey. I especially admire the clever use of ginger from a chef who uses it all day long in class (he taught me to peel ginger with a spoon—works great; he sometimes adds fine julienne to the glass to chew on as he sips). All the elements swirl beautifully together (regular lemon juice will work too if you can’t find Meyers). For a light summer cocktail, he tops it off with a couple ounces of seltzer (and maybe an extra splash of whiskey if you’re Chef Pardus). The vanilla, delivered via a simple syrup, and ginger mix beautifully with the whiskey. I chose Dickel Tennessee Read On »

Share

  Were it not for the Internet, my guess is that only the most devoted barfly would know about the Boulevardier. It’s not in any of my cocktail books, not the standard-bearing The Standard Bartender’s Guide, my Madmen-era dad’s paperback. I only heard about it from a reader of this blog (with links below). And an email this week pushed me into a tasting, happily! I love how various flavoring components (bitters, vermouths) become different cocktails when you change the spirit. How the Manhattan becomes a Rob Roy when you change the bourbon to scotch (as opposed to a lame-sounding “Scotch Manhattan”), or how a Martini becomes a … um, never mind about that #lostcause (Paulius, can we hope for Darwinian selection here?). I love the elasticity of a solid cocktail, how the addition of apple Read On »

Share