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 »

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So my oldest and dearest pal, Lester, feeling a bit fidgety several Fridays ago, texted to coax me off work early. I had cooking to do so I said, “Come over. I’ll make us some Clover Clubs while I finish prep.” After imbibing, I recalled the savvy note from Danny Guess of Fly Bar & Restaurant and video “host” of the iBook 25 Classic Cocktails, that if you add applejack brandy, you have a cocktail called a Pink Lady (all of which were covered in this post). Having finished our drinks and with more egg white on hand, I made us a second, this time a Pink Lady. Killer cocktail, but such an unfortunate name! This is something you will never hear me utter: “Barkeep, I’ll have a Pink Lady, please.” Can you imagine James Bond ordering Read On »

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Cinco de Mayo is Sunday. How many of you know what it celebrates or why? Shaw Lash is one of the key cooks and brains in the Rick Bayless Chicago operations, places I really admire. Last year she wrote why, having grown up in Texas and later lived in Mexico, the Cinco de Mayo madness drives her mad. She wants you to know what it means and asks should we celebrate it at all. Her short answer: It’s a celebration of being Mexican. And it’s a brilliant American marketing gimmick. Shaw Lash is one of those aware people I admire, so when my able cohort Emilia suggested a tequila cocktail, I emailed Shaw. Shaw suggested a Margarita primer. There’s an extensive discussion of all drink issues in Rick and wife Deann’s book Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles 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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Some cocktails are spontaneous given what’s at hand. I happened to be making nougat, the French confection created by pouring cooked sugar and honey into whipped egg whites, then folding in nuts and dried fruits. The pix were so stunning in the Bouchon Bakery book, I simply had to give it a go and attempt a paired down version for the home cook. I considered adding rum-soaked dried cherries and so prepared these. But by the time the eggs whites and sugar had cooled to glossy perfection, I worried that the red-tinted rum, attracted by the sugar, would leach into the stunning whiteness of the nougat. When the shooting was done for the day, I had a bowlful of rum soaked cherries. Hmmm. How to put to use? “Donna! Don’t put your camera away!” I shouted, Read On »

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