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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It’s winter, which means citrus season approaches, one of the few bright spots in the otherwise endless gray of a Cleveland winter. Donna brought home some oranges with beautiful deep, deep orange-colored flesh. I’d needed them for a duck recipe I was developing. I asked her to get more next time, planning a Screwdriver post and a celebration of citrus. She returned with thick-skinned, stupid old navels, probably from last year. “Sorry,” she said. “That was all they had.” But she did pick up some tangerines because she thought they looked cool. Aha! I’d made a vodka–tangerine juice before and loved it. A helpful check on Twitter found no proper name for this very sunny elixir. It is sunny—sunny in the mouth. It made Donna smile and say, “Mmmmm! It feels healthy!” So, to brighten Read On »

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As Key West race week winds down, and the pork is slow cooking in the oven for my favorite East Carolina barbecue as the centerpiece for the last of our nine nights here, I’m suggesting a good sipping rum in honor of the sailors I cook for, rum being the ubiquitous choice amongst the crew. And also because we, or I anyway, rarely think of drinking a good rum with ice. Jeff Haase, above, a carpenter and project manager not far from me in Ohio, who crewed on the lovely little J70, insisted I try his favorite rum, Pyrat. He’s something of a pirate spirit, always good company, and I agreed and found it to be a great pleasure. This rum has more complexity and depth than I rarely think of rum having. Rum is 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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