Key-Sunset-Cocktail

(Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman) In one week I’ll be in quirky, decadent Key West on my annual boondoggle cooking for my cousin, Rob, and the crew of Spaceman Spiff. Yesterday afternoon I spent an hour gathering pots and pans, two big cutting boards, a giant cast iron skillet, Lexan tub and circulator, flat-edged wood spoons, side towels, knives, all of which are loaded onto the boat trailer that’s now on the road south. My iPhone says it’s 77 degrees and sunny. Here in Cleveland it’s 18 degrees. Yesterday when I woke it was -2. Tomorrow’s high here will be 16 degrees. Needless to say I am not disappointed that I’ll spend nine afternoons cooking for the sailing droogs, with mornings poolside to get some writing work done. And looking forward so much I intend to Read On »

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the-last-martini

For now, that is. I need to focus on work and, well, most things come to an end, no? Though the inevitable catastrophe of death awaits us all, not so for the finest cocktail: The Martini. As perfect as a sonnet, Mencken said. I began The Friday Cocktail Hour two and a half years ago with a martini (outraged, outraged!, when I ordered a martini and was asked which vodka I preferred). I attached a memory of the best martini of my life to my first book contract this spring. And with a martini I finish. Because this concludes, for the nonce, my beloved Friday Cocktail Hour, we shall call this one the Is That All There Is? Martini. Gin, almost needless to say, flavored with vermouth and lemon, something to sip for comfort as Read On »

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Another glass of gin and tonic please. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Last night, Donna and I sat out on the front porch and had a gin and tonic. It was perfect. The air was perfect. It was quiet, no lawnmowers buzzing. The air had that lovely early evening haze. It was so lovely in fact that neither of us said anything. We just sat. We’d planned this. To have a cocktail at six before I went in to make dinner. And we didn’t say anything. We just sat and enjoyed the air, the perfect temperature. The towering oaks across the street. The lushness all around us. And we enjoyed a gin and tonic, in the above glass, a glass we’d received more 24 years earlier as a wedding gift. It’s the perfect gin and tonic glass, not so small that the gin over powers the tonic, not so large that the 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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