When I opened to the Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s wonderful and expanded food section, I was delighted to find a handful of bartenders offering cocktails. The Derby, offered by Lindsey Hawes, who mixes drinks at The Willeyville in the Cleveland Flats, caught my eye (here she is making another fave of mine, The Dark & Stormy). The Derby  caught my eye for its straightforwardness and lack of frou. I immediately thought of the Brown Derby, a restaurant chain that flourished here in the 1970s, where I first encountered what was called a salad bar, back in the pre-sneeze guard days (God, how I long for the simpler times when people didn’t freak out about bacteria and rub sanitizing gel on their hands every five minutes). Potatoes came foil wrapped (an actual botulism worry, in fact). Butter Read On »

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Today’s cocktail is a new one for me, via Emilia via Pableaux (see below). It’s a sherry and fruit cocktail from the early 19th century called a Cobbler. A Google search will give you all sorts of spirit-based “cobblers,” but how they differ from a basic whiskey cocktail is, well, they don’t. So let’s keep the term clean! A cobbler is a sherry-based cocktail! And truly refreshing!—M.R. by Emilia Juocys Friday Cocktail Hour is probably one of my favorite weekly segments I have been part of since I began working with Michael and Donna. Every week I get to learn a new classic cocktail or an interesting variation. Since living in Chicago I have been blessed with not only a fantastic food scene, but also a thriving mixology scene. I’m constantly tempted to have multiple “happy Read On »

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I love the clean and pure daiquiri, nothing more than a rum sour. I love a mint julep for its power and herbal freshness. But one thing I don’t like is large fragments of leaves floating in my drink and ever threatening to catch on my front tooth mid-conversation. I felt like a daiquiri last weekend and made some hastily. I wanted to perfect it. To get more depth from the sugar, I made a simple syrup of brown sugar (equal parts water and brown sugar, heated to dissolve the sugar, then cooled). I pulverized the mint in a mortar, then let the rum soak with it to infuse. Then I strained the rum through a cloth. I combined it all and topped it with sparkling water. It seemed to me the perfect mojito, and Read On »

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The creators of last week’s cocktail on fat-washed spirits, schmaltz, and rye, noted that the onion (which worked perfectly with the schmaltzy rye) recalled a Gibson. Loving the interconnectedness of cocktails, that is the choice for today’s Friday Cocktail Hour. The Gibson is a martini garnished with onion, and I like to underscore the difference between it and a martini by adding some of the pickling liquid. Because it features gin, use a good gin such as Beefeater, my fave. Same vermouth ratio as a martini, 20%, though vary this according to your tastes. Do you hear anyone asking for a vodka Gibson? Do you hear bartenders, upon being asked for a Gibson, respond, “Vodka or gin?” I think not. This is a serious cocktail with a sweet-sour-onion garnish, reflecting the serious and bittersweet recognition Read On »

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When my latest, The Book of Schmaltz: Love Song to a Forgotten Fat, came out last week, I got an enthusiastic tweet from a London chef, Michael Harrison, about a schmaltz-infused cocktail. I immediately asked for a guest post. I learned not only a daring new cocktail—not for the faint of heart—but I also learned about “fat-washing” alcohol, infusing alcohol with the flavors of fat—here, rendered chicken fat, glorious schmaltz. —M.R. by Michael Harrison and Marlowe Harris “There is a time and a place for every cocktail. The Man Harrison is made for the man who has exhausted his palate on fine wine and rich dishes, the man who enjoys his whiskey dry and flammable, the man who is afraid of neither an onion nor onion brine, the man who always has time for chicken, Read On »

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