swizzle

  In hot and humid NYC last week, we were invited downstairs to our neighbors Tobin (of Hella Bitters) and Jourdan for a cocktail. “I’m mixing swizzles,” he emailed. A perfect summer cocktail if ever there were one. Born centuries ago in the Caribbean, the swizzle is nothing more than booze, sugar, bitters, and soda, with plenty of crushed ice. Ideally you spin the crushed ice with an actual five-prong swizzle stick, made from a native plant, to help the sugar dissolve. (You can buy them at our go-to cocktail supply store, Cocktail Kingdom.) Tobin, a cocktail pro, used both Scotch and gin (in separate drinks; I requested gin, Donna had the scotch version below) along with a fiery Pasilla De Oaxaca bitters. But he noted that any spirit will work, and certainly rum would have been the spirit Read On »

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

I’m in New York City this week and so must fall back on an old favorite cocktail and, more importantly, cocktail photograph. Gosh, did Donna nail this one. Regular readers may be tired of it, but new ones won’t, and it remains my favorite photograph of a cocktail my beloved has taken (my gross thumb notwithstanding). Looks like summer, with those vibrant colors and clear light, the obviously refreshing elixir, the promising and fine bottle, the season. It couldn’t be simpler or more delicious, especially if you get a good grapefruit soda. Tequila, soda, and lime, so refreshing on a summer evening. It can in fact be too refreshing—for instance, on your fifth Paloma you really aren’t becoming as refreshed as you think you are. So go easy. Just ask Garrett if you doubt me. Happy summertime Read On »

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The-Ben-Smith-cocktail-@102

I read about this impromptu cocktail in Molly Wizenberg’s new memoir, Delancey, about her and her husband’s opening of a restaurant in Seattle, one specializing in pizza, her Jersey-born husband’s culinary love. Wizenberg, author of A Homemade Life and the blog Orangette, is a felicitous writer, and her latest is a lovely memoir about love and food and the crazy decisions we make based on nothing reliable and the risks we take, and the really, really hard work of running a restaurant, even a casual pizzeria. Molly and Brandon’s good friend, Ben, offered this cocktail, which appealed to my inner skinflint, with its insistence on cheap gin. Love that. Wizenberg names it grandly: The Benjamin Wayne Smith. I am adding vermouth (because it benefits from it), which Wizenberg also suggests, and because of the modification Read On »

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Corpse-Reviver-2-X3

  My Standard Bartender’s Guide (1959 edition) lists three separate corpse revivers, with #1 featuring brandy and vermouth, and #3 lemon, Pernod, and champagne. But #2 seems to get the most attention, because in all likelihood it’s the best. Its acidity is bracing, refreshing; the Lillet and Cointreau give it complexity and the gin gives it some punch. Its name suggests that it is used to revivify one after over-imbibing, which is a good strategy in the short term, and not so much in the long. Evelyn Waugh had a concoction he called his “Noontime Reviver,” the recipe of which I am still seeking. I wholly encourage this lovely cocktail at the appropriate evening hour for the reasons stated above; it’s an excellent cocktail. Most recipes for the drink call for a drop or two Read On »

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Martini-Not-stirred-cocktai

On September 24, 1993, I walked out of the offices of the publisher Henry Holt, having just gotten my first book contract. Donna was with me to share my elation. It was my dad’s 55th birthday (he shared that day, BTW, with my literary hero, though not role model, Scott Fitzgerald)—an auspicious day. We could hardly believe it. Even Donna said it out loud to herself, a little incredulously, “My husband has a book contract.” I was thirty and had been trying to write books for nine years and had been writing daily since sixth grade. We walked uptown to tell a friend the good news. I was sure I’d get hit by a bus. That’s me. When something this good happens, something worse has to happen as well. On Park Avenue, a taxi with a flat Read On »

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