Tomsfoolery-1-@1020

Thomas Herbruck’s father came home with a still when Tom was 15; at that tender age he would distill his first spirits along with helping his father make wine from the grapes grown on their one-acre vineyard in Gates Mills, on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio. He would go on, happily, to become a 401(k) plan consultant at a brokerage company here and, with his wife Lianne, father of four. In 1991, Tom bought a 50-gallon prohibition-era moonshine still from a New York farmer. It was just too cool not to. By 2008, he’d navigated the bureaucratic waters of making spirits legally in Ohio, just for home consumption and for friends and others who might share his passion for distilling fermented liquids. But interest was great, and he’d jumped through enough legal hoops that he was 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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Sidecar-cocktail-@1020

When we lived in Florida, Donna and I darkened many a thrift shop door. It was Palm Beach, and you never knew what you might uncover. We were also terribly romantic for the Old World, which to us could be the 1950s, ’40s, or the Jazz Age, but especially the latter. Visions of Old Palm Beach were everywhere, and they were all so much finer to believe in than our everyday lives, my crappy temp jobs and cheap-Scotch hangovers, struggling to be F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was Fitzgerald who wrote one of the most gorgeous paragraphs ever about the island in his day. I could actually stand on my mother’s balcony in West Palm, which overlooked the Intercoastal, aka Lake Worth, with its beautiful view of the island, the Breakers Hotel and the ocean in Read On »

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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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