When my wife Ann and I were in New Orleans in January, we felt the need, after a great Po Boys and beer at Parasol’s in the Garden District, for one more afternoon libation (as you do in NOLA). We stopped at bar someone recommended down the street. I believe I asked for a boulvardier. Bartender shook his head. I said, negroni. Bartender said, “We serve N drinks here.” “Excuse me?” “N drinks. Vodka ‘n,’ Gin ‘n,’ Scotch ‘n.’” That is, no fancy pants drinks. “We serve hahd likkah heah for men who want to get drunk fast.” #itsawonderfullife And those were the drinks I saw poured in 1960s-70s suburban Cleveland growing up. Gin n Tonic, Scotch n Soda. I knew four cocktails in my youth. The Martini (Dad), The Manhattan (Uncle Jon), The Bloody Mary Read On »

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My trusted assistant, Emilia Juocys, emailed to say she was making her holiday eggnog and I said, “Take pix! I want to remind people to get their eggnog made!” She did, see above, then pointed me to this intriguing Food Lab article on aged eggnog: http://www.seriouseats.com/2016/09/is-aging-holiday-eggnog-worth-it.html. It seems intuitive to me that the longer anything ages, the more complex and funky it will be. But is it better? That was the case with two-year eggnog, which had turned a kind of dangerous-looking brown, but I enjoyed the deep funk. How can you keep dairy and eggs in your fridge for a year or three? The alcohol kills the bacteria that cause food to spoil (not to mention salmonella that might be in raw egg). This is a good thing to remember if you need to leave Read On »

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It’s the Derby weekend so herewith, again, my preferred method for making a great mint julep with a truly minty, clean taste and a color that announces what it is. You can use either a blender or a mortar and pestle (I prefer the latter for the mintiest flavor, pix and recipe here). Of course, I’m still fond of my first julep(s) made by still my dearest pal, Blake Bailey, and the story surrounding it. Blake was initially too mortified to be named at the time, but since he wrote about the event in his searing memoir, The Splendid Things We Planned, the story is out. Happy Derby Day, all! (And don’t forget to have a look at my newest book, How to Saute: Foolproof Techniques and Recipes For the Home Cook. And feel free to enter the Read On »

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  Happy Friday, all. Reposting this cocktail as I’ve been ordering it recently and enjoying it immensely. It remains a perfect cocktail for a chilly spring evening. 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 brandy turns a Clover Club into a Pink Lady. Here, one of my favorite cocktails, the Negroni, becomes a Boulevardier when bourbon replaces the gin. A couple of recent essays (Tmagblog, Imbibe) have wondered why this cocktail isn’t Read On »

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The grapefruit, as I’ve mentioned before, was my introduction to the notion of seasonal. It was 1989, I was not yet 26, and I’d moved into a little bungalow on the sweet island of Palm Beach to work on my novel. Deep into January and through February the trees in back of my hutch hung heavy with grapefruit. The best grapefruit I’d ever had. I don’t know what I was thinking before I actually saw grapefruit on trees, Cleveland boy, that I was. I suppose only that citrus grew in warm weather places pretty much year round, since I can buy them year-round. Well, no. They have a time of year when they naturally appear and this is when you should eat them (which is now). You should also know that if you buy grapefruit Read On »

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