Taking up part-time residence in New York City last month, I was delighted to meet a downstairs neighbor, Tobin Ludwig, who makes the lovely Hella Bitters. What good karma for our new old building! “What is your favorite use of bitters?” I asked. For someone who makes bitters, he struggled. I pushed. He relented and said, “A rum old fashioned.” What a splendid idea, I thought. Last night a tweet asked me for a cocktail with a good rum. And so there it was. The rum old-fashioned called. The weather has cooled, I have some most excellent rum, and the sweetness and the bitters combine for a great summer rum cocktail. But lo—there was more, karma-wise. I returned to my original old-fashioned post and noticed that I’d used Hella bitters, long before I’d met Tobin! Read On »

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We are now in the full throes of summer, and there is no better cocktail to conclude a summer’s day than a gin and tonic. It is simplicity itself. It can be made extra-special if you use an excellent gin and, more importantly, an excellent tonic. But an inexpensive gin and some diet Schweppes will do the trick if that and a lime is all you have or want. This is a seasonal drink. The bitter and bubbles refresh, the gin eases, and the citrus brightens. I like to use both lime and lemon, because lemon makes just about anything better and the bright color makes the glass more inviting. If you want to simply enjoy a cooling cocktail at the end of a hot day, then I encourage economy over quality. But if you Read On »

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It’s a celebratory week here in the Ruhlman household. Two significant graduations and the 18th birthday of my daughter. So bubbly is on hand, and it led me to this thoroughly refreshing and restorative cocktail, the French 75, which I was first introduced to at the Velvet Tango Room. The concoction was apparently named after a French field gun, owing to its kick, at Harry’s Bar in Paris, and I love its French name best, Soixante Quinze. It couldn’t be simpler: a gin sour (lemon juice and simple syrup), topped with dry sparkling wine, finished with a twist. Best wishes to all on this first Friday of June, but especially to the parents out there with kids who are graduating. The French 75 2 ounces gin 1/2 ounce lemon juice 1/2 ounce simple syrup Bubbly as Read On »

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So my oldest and dearest pal, Lester, feeling a bit fidgety several Fridays ago, texted to coax me off work early. I had cooking to do so I said, “Come over. I’ll make us some Clover Clubs while I finish prep.” After imbibing, I recalled the savvy note from Danny Guess of Fly Bar & Restaurant and video “host” of the iBook 25 Classic Cocktails, that if you add applejack brandy, you have a cocktail called a Pink Lady (all of which were covered in this post). Having finished our drinks and with more egg white on hand, I made us a second, this time a Pink Lady. Killer cocktail, but such an unfortunate name! This is something you will never hear me utter: “Barkeep, I’ll have a Pink Lady, please.” Can you imagine James Bond ordering Read On »

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Cinco de Mayo is Sunday. How many of you know what it celebrates or why? Shaw Lash is one of the key cooks and brains in the Rick Bayless Chicago operations, places I really admire. Last year she wrote why, having grown up in Texas and later lived in Mexico, the Cinco de Mayo madness drives her mad. She wants you to know what it means and asks should we celebrate it at all. Her short answer: It’s a celebration of being Mexican. And it’s a brilliant American marketing gimmick. Shaw Lash is one of those aware people I admire, so when my able cohort Emilia suggested a tequila cocktail, I emailed Shaw. Shaw suggested a Margarita primer. There’s an extensive discussion of all drink issues in Rick and wife Deann’s book Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles Read On »

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