Bourbon Milk Punch/photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

This is considered more a morning cocktail than one for a Friday evening, one to be offered, say, at a Tulane frat house brunch after a heavy night on Bourbon Street. But I want to write about it now for two reasons. First, it was a revelation to me when my dearest pal, Blake Bailey, Tulane class of 1985, offered it to me (one hung-over Sunday morning in Manhattan, in 1986)—wow, bourbon, milk, and sugar make a fabulous elixir. And two, because those days are now vividly returned to me in Blake’s acclaimed new memoir, The Splendid Things We Planned, where I, our shared New York apartment, and a pregnant hooker from New Jersey, enjoy a cameo in this wrenching, tragic story about the havoc Blake’s older brother brought on Blake’s entire extended family. In Read On »

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The OYO Manhattan/Photo by iPad

Ohio comes to Manhattan this week for the Friday cocktail hour, which I will enjoy, shivering but happy, on my fire escape in the West Village, with Columbus–based OYO clear rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters, and the indulgent Luxardo maraschino cherries (picked up around the corner at The Meadow (thank you Mark!—check out his book, my favorite salt book, period). The Manhattan, a classic I never stray far from, a family favorite, and well enduring for a reason (this is one of my favorite Friday Cocktail Hour posts). The rye Manhattan is especially good when you have great cherries. I add some syrup from the cherries, here not yet dissolved and sleeping at the bottom of the cocktail; rye is marvelously dry as whiskeys go and so the extra sweetness is perfect for this excellent winter cocktail. Read On »

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I’m continuing the citrus binge as it’s a remedy for the winter blasts we’ve been getting. My favorite vodka mixer had long been grapefruit juice—because I’m a fan of bitter. Bitter is good. But then those tangerines floated into the house and I have to say, The Robertson is one bright cocktail. But back to the basics now, on this busy, busy week, struggling with two manuscripts, a trip to DC to talk Schmaltz, Boston on Sunday, and a manuscript to finish. Something simple and refreshing to end the week. Please, now is the time, fresh grapefruit juice only. That’s what makes the drink. Squeeze it by hand if you don’t have a juicer or a reamer. It’s all about the freshness of the juice. Happy Friday, all. The Greyhound 2 ounces vodka 3 to Read On »

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It’s race week here in Key West, but my thoughts are with Donna in chilly Cleveland. It’s winter when I most crave bitters in a cocktail. Happily a suggestion on Twitter brought up a new cocktail for me, the Bitter Elder, and before I departed for southern climes, we gave it a go. The cocktail, which balances the bitterness of Campari with the sweet elderberry flavors of the liqueur, makes for a splendid libation, especially for those in the cold grays of the north. I salute you from the southernmost and wish you a happy Friday Cocktail Hour. The Bitter Elder 1.5 ounces gin 0.5 ounces Campari 0.5 ounces St. Germain 0.5 ounces lemon juice Twist of lemon Stir the liquids with ice in a shaker and pour into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a Read On »

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“You’re gonna be a Scotch drinker,” my Grandma Rose said to me at the end of a Christmas dinner, with an approving smile. I was all of about six years old. This was still the 1960s and everybody drank. I had asked for, and was given, a sip of my father’s after-dinner cordial, a tiny glass of Drambuie, and had claimed to like it. I did like it, in fact—unlike that nasty martini my father would often have (story of that first taste here). The Drambuie was syrupy sweet and I marveled at the way the alcohol seemed to blow up inside my mouth. Alas, a sip was all I would get. My tastes today, contrary to Rose’s prediction, run to bourbon, but I still love the flavor of Drambuie, the Scotch-based liqueur. It and Read On »

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