I actually hadn’t heard of a Negroni until Bourdain ordered one after an event we did at the 92nd Street Y. It wasn’t like him to be order a girly drink, I thought, when the server arrived with a pinkish, on-the-rocks concoction, so I took note. It would become one of my favorite cocktails, and I like it both on the rocks and up. It’s a simple but complex elixir originally created in Italy, comprising equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth, and gin. I prefer Hendrick’s gin for this but am not sure why—probably because of the cool bottle. Any decent gin will do. The VTR likes to flame orange zest oil over the drink. I prefer an actual squeeze of orange, its citrusy sweetness offsetting the bitter Campari. Some people suggest some orange bitters. All to Read On »

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I had my first cocktail with an egg white in it at The Best Bar in the World, and it was a revelation. A Ramos gin fizz. The egg white gave it the kind of body I’d never felt. (And nutrition! If LA starlets can call an egg white omelet a meal, I can call my cocktail a meal!) I’ve since become a huge fan of what an egg white can bring to a drink. I even put the VTR Whiskey Sour in Ruhlman’s Twenty! Herewith the Friday Cocktail Hour a classic whiskey sour. It’s typically made with bourbon, and that’s fine, as is scotch. But after last week’s Manhattan, which used Old Overholt Rye, I had a rye on the rocks to evaluate it and was impressed by how dry it was relative to Read On »

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I’m old-fashioned, I admit, and this is another Friday cocktail post devoted to classic cocktails. It’s not because I’m nostalgic (though I am). It’s because classics are classics for a reason: they’re good. There’s a reason you don’t have a Swanson’s TV dinner in your freezer but will never tire of a well-made Martini. My dad was a Martini man. He was also an Ad Man (who actually looked a lot like Don Draper), a creative director at a Cleveland ad firm where I interned the summer after my freshman year of college. He was a gin drinker. I still remember my first revulsion at gin. I asked him what he had in that plastic cup of his. He told me it was a Martini. Go ahead, he said, taste it. I did. How on Read On »

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Phew! I’m exhausted from all the amazing and powerful energy generated by the food fascism post! Oy! Time for a cocktail! (Figuratively—I’ve got long hours to go before I earn mine.) Today’s Friday cocktail hour is one the oldest and simplest on record. In this era of high-end mixology and complex recipes involving expensive aperitifs and liqueurs, well unless out in the stratosphere at Aviary, I like my cocktails simple. The Old-Fashioned is just that: American whiskey, sugar, bitters, over ice with a twist. All there is to it. With the range of bourbons and bitters now available, the drink itself can vary wildly and well. So even though this is every bit as simple and satisfying as a martini, it’s infinitely more complex. A martini is clear and clean, an ice pick. The Old-Fashioned is complex, caramelly, Read On »

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OK, it’s really gotten bad. I’d been ready to give up the fight. But I just can’t let this one go. I went up to the bar, I’m not even going say where, and asked for a martini. The bartender, I shit you not, said, “Any preference of vodka?” I left. I just left. Walked out. I’ve gotten used to the question, “Vodka or Gin?,” grudgingly and have been told outright by Jonathan Gold to simply give it up, losing battle, he said. But I can’t. I can’t. Names are important. H.L. Mencken, as the martini Wiki entrance notes, calls this drink “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.” So true! And sonnets are not writ with Vodka, which is defined by tastelessness.  (The “vodka martini” should be referred to as a Kangaroo, Read On »

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