Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

What cocktail to offer on Independence Day, the day some of the greatest political minds signed the document outlining the most secure and fair methods of governance, formally and with uncommon eloquence and foresight, and obliterating all ties with Great Britain? I suggest a smash, connoting demolition and also one of our country’s oldest cocktails, featuring one of our oldest spirits. I do so after consulting Brad Thomas Parsons, whose book Bitters I continue to admire. Responding to my email, he wrote: “Cocktails were born in America, but for that question, I guess I’m thinking less of an iconic drink like an Old-Fashioned or a Manhattan or a Martini, and instead, as it’s the Fourth of July, thinking about a spirit with heritage—something the American colonists might be drinking. Something like applejack or apple brandy. Laird & Company is America’s Read On »

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Stinger-cocktail-@1020

Friday Cocktail Hour today is devoted to the memory of my dad, who hated to see guests leave and always asked if they’d stay for a nightcap, saying, “Can I make you a Stinger?” The Stinger, a cocktail that dates to the early 20th century is a combination of brandy and crème de menthe, indeed a refreshing cocktail after a meal. Rip would have used an inexpensive brandy for this mixed drink and he always served them over crushed ice (we owned an actual crusher that sat on the back kitchen counter next to the toaster oven and the Mr. Coffee). But it’s also a drink, according to The Philadelphia Story (one of my favorite movies), that is a great hair-of-the-dog solution. This I’ve never tried, but surely in the future shall. My father died of Read On »

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Metropolitan-Cocktail@1020

Last week’s delicious Sidecar got me onto drinks featuring brandy. This, combined with my interest in how changing the spirit changes the name, brings me to today’s cocktail (photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman), the Metropolitan. The Manhattan is a beloved Ruhlman family cocktail; the Metropolitan is essentially a Manhattan made with brandy. This is a delicious cocktail, made especially fine with these genuine maraschino cherries. Donna says a single one of them can be considered an entire dessert. Indeed, this is a garnish that truly completes this cocktail, which is a complex mixture of brandy, sweet vermouth, bitters, a small bit of simple syrup, and the cherries. I’m happy again to feature Hella Bitters, from my downstairs neighbor in New York, Tobin Ludwig, currently visiting Cleveland I’m proud to note—and what a glorious day it Read On »

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Sidecar-cocktail-@1020

When we lived in Florida, Donna and I darkened many a thrift shop door. It was Palm Beach, and you never knew what you might uncover. We were also terribly romantic for the Old World, which to us could be the 1950s, ’40s, or the Jazz Age, but especially the latter. Visions of Old Palm Beach were everywhere, and they were all so much finer to believe in than our everyday lives, my crappy temp jobs and cheap-Scotch hangovers, struggling to be F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was Fitzgerald who wrote one of the most gorgeous paragraphs ever about the island in his day. I could actually stand on my mother’s balcony in West Palm, which overlooked the Intercoastal, aka Lake Worth, with its beautiful view of the island, the Breakers Hotel and the ocean in Read On »

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The refreshing Paloma: tequila, lime, grapefruit soda. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Why do I continue to think work will ease up, give me a chance to catch my breath? I’m not complaining. I love all my work and feel lucky in too many ways to count. I don’t feel like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill. I feel like the rock. Accelerating down the hill, a long hill, and the longer it rolls the faster it goes and the more unstoppable it becomes. I’m just hoping that’s not a big wall way down there. As I type this, designs for my own kitchen scale are downloading—it’s going to be a very cool scale. I have to work on and approve packaging we’re designing for a few of our tools to be able to get them in stores. This site is still under maintenance. I have Read On »

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