When it’s really muggy, and I’m fried from work, and stress, and travel, and I just want something cold and guzzlable, inexpensive hooch is the way I go. I’m too much of a cheapskate to waste the expensive stuff on a guzzle, especially one filled with an ocean of tonic and a couple good squeezes of lime. Furthermore, it’s senseless to dilute delicious Beefeater or Hendrick’s (my two favorite gins) with a lot of tonic. And there are days when I simply don’t want to bother with a shaker and egg white, have no desire for a sip of expensive reposado, and don’t have the patience to weigh the goddam bitters—just give me something cold and refreshing that will take the edge off this Friday afternoon brain sizzle, NOW. Fast. Ahh, the Gin and Tonic. Only Read On »

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I had my first Paloma in Ixtapa, Mexico, during a blog seminar I was invited to and fell in love with it. I think I had ninety-five before the week was out. By the end of the evening I couldn’t even remember the name. (Though I remember Garrett becomes very talkative after about seven or eight.) I still see the Mexican bartender carefully saying, PAH-LOW-MA to me. I would repeat as best I could, but he could see he’d be repeating himself in a half hour. Now, of course, is not the time to have ninety-five Palomas but one solid one for the cocktail hour. It is HOT, and these are REFRESHING! In fact, exactly as refreshing as the above example looks in Donna’s lovely photo. The Paloma is simply tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda. I’m Read On »

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I’ve loved seeing the mutability of cocktails simply by changing the spirit during these Friday Cocktail Hour posts. This cocktail is in effect a Mint Julep only with rum, therefore called a Mojito. Of course what also distinguishes the mojito from the julep is the lime juice and sugar, the intense sweet and sour. So, does that mean it’s like a whisky sour with mint and rum? Yes, but no egg white. Or like a daiquiri without the mint? All of the above! Regardless, this is a fabulous cocktail to make in the summer when the mint is taking over the garden and the heat calls out for a cooling rum drink. Again, I love the effect of the pulverized mint, the powerful minty flavor it brings to the sweet/sour lime, and the vivid, good-for-you greenness. Old school Read On »

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Last week’s cocktail post, The Moscow Mule, allowed me to show off OYO, the awesome Columbus, Ohio, vodka by Middle West Spirits, but it also got me thinking about how cool ginger beer is. It also demonstrates how specific drinks are defined by the spirit used. The Manhattan, made with American whiskey, becomes a Rob Roy when made with scotch (not a “scotch Manhattan”). A Martini made with vodka becomes a Kangaroo (not a “vodka martini”). Swap out the vodka in a Moscow Mule and you don’t have a “rum Moscow Mule,” you have a Dark and Stormy. (I don’t know if this is an official cocktail, but it’s great from a taste standpoint, noted by a commenter: make a Dark and Stormy with Maker’s Mark instead of rum and you have a “Mark and Read On »

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By request and for my own curiosity, for my fascination with ginger beer, and most, my compulsion to SCREAM … indoor voice, Michael … deep breath … if you’re going to drink vodka, either admit you simply want to mainline alcohol (not a judgment! I’m there frequently myself!), or drink vodka that actually has flavor, such Ohio’s own OYO made from soft red winter wheat grown near its Columbus distillery. The Standard Bartender’s Guide, revised and enlarged by James A. Beard (originally published in 1940, before the Moscow Mule existed), instructs simply this: “Squeeze into a 12-ounce glass 1/2 Lime and drop in the Rind. Add ice cubes and 1-1/2 jiggers Vodka and fill with Ginger Beer. Stir and serve.” How easy is that?! (Verdict: cool, light, and very refreshing!) From the VTR menu: “Born of Read On »

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