Plan ahead! Not long after I began this blog in 2006, I wrote about and made aged eggnog upon reading about it at CHOW. Two years later Donna photographed it. A year after that, we finished the batch. It was a little funky and that was part of its deliciousness. I’m writing about it now so that you can, if you plan ahead, make it this weekend or next, for this holiday season, and the next, and, if you have the discipline, for December 2015. It needs at least 30 days for the aged flavor and for the alcohol to take care of any bacteria. After that it will keep for a long long time. Jonathon Sawyer liked it so much he began experimenting with different whiskeys. Last one I tried he’d use Oban, an excellent 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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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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  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 »

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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 »

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