This blast of arctic air and wind and snow and gray has me longing for the lovely afternoons and evenings of the Key West I left a week ago. Nine full days there, writing, cooking, carousing with the sailing droogs. Sigh. So, to cheer myself, I made some Key Lime Daiquiris—proper daiquiris, with nothing but rum, citrus, and simple syrup. The frozen daiquiri and the frozen margarita are yet more travesties America has made of previously fine libations. I think I was in my thirties when I learned that a daiquiri wasn’t a slushie with alcohol. So I fight off these, the worst weeks of the year, with memories of Key West, rum, and Key limes (and thanks to you, Rob and Ab!). Yes, that’s blue Ohio winter in the background of Donna’s shot, but Read On »

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  I’m so pleased with results of the cooked eggnog I wrote about long ago, I wanted to repost an official tested recipe. I’m a fan of raw-egg eggnog, as well as aged-for-two-years raw eggnog. I don’t believe anyone should be afraid of eating raw eggs (especially if you buy organic or well-raised eggs). Raw yolk on raw ground beef is a delight, a kind of ready-made sauce. I love a homemade mayo, a runny poached egg. Indeed, raw or warm egg is one of the great pleasures of cooking and eating. But there are those who may be concerned or have reason not to take any chances. There are also those who may simply love the richness of the cooked egg and the clean flavor the vanilla bean gives it (I also love the creaminess of Read On »

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Holiday punch was out of fashion even in Charles Dickens’ day, but he loved the old recipes for it. And as described in this NPR story with David Wondrich on his book Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl, punch was created by 17th-century British-empire-building sailors whose beer spoiled in tropical heat. They would have used rum and brandy and lots of it for punch with serious punch. Today for me it has a whiff of the 1950s, and does bring to mind sherbet for some reason, but as Wondrich points out in the NPR piece, punch is not a cocktail or pedestrian glass of generic Chardonnay—that is, an individual and isolating libation strategy. It is, rather, a communal and group drink, a social drink, a shared drink. I talk a lot about the Read On »

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  Cocktail Name Winner “Major Award,” from Stefan Was, of Cleveland, OH This was chosen from many, many wonderful names, by Paulius and Claudia, and I whole-heartedly embrace this great and elegant name, in its saying Cleveland without using Cleveland, its nuanced suggestion of Christmas and fun without saying either. Poetry! “Major Award” is a reference, of course, to one of my favorite movies, “A Christmas Story,” which opens in Cleveland’s Public Square. Donna and I never see a box with “Fragile” written on it without saying aloud, “Fra-GEE-lay.” Darren McGavin’s major award was of course, the famous leg lamp. Stop by Paulius’s Velvet Tango Room, and you’ll see the lamp in an upstairs window. Stefan, Paulius says come on in and you’ll have a Major Award on the house. I’ll get a copy of Read On »

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A few weeks ago when Donna was gadding about in NYC, I asked my dear pal Lester if he’d have a drink with me at the best bar in the world, aka Velvet Tango Room. I wanted to have a look at its menu and to have a cocktail I created, or rather, riffed on a classic, The Martinez. Mine is called The Berkshire Martinez and I am honored to be on the menu. The bar’s owner is Paulius Nasvytis. In a tale too odd and complicated to go into here, he and Claudia Young, longtime Nashville resident, are an item. Before Lester and I could head off for some greezy Chinese chuck, Paulius and Claudia arrived. They had created a new cocktail and were eager for us to try it. It is a fabulous Read On »

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