As my dear friend, the eminent biographer, Blake Bailey, knows, I am not to be trifled with in the morning. He actually tweeted that he’d sooner breakfast with a cobra. I’m angry that I’m conscious, I’m angry at the world, I’m angry at the stupidity in every direction, the mirror most of all. After I get a few hundred words under my belt and the writing work is underway, well, birds start to chirp and hope begins to dawn. So it was last Friday was when I made the error of checking Twitter first thing only to find this weird Dr. Hyde version of venerable journalist Peter Kaplan, making demands of me. He’s lucky I checked my twitter feed after today’s 750 words of deathless prose as he’s started it up again. Who the hell is 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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There was no other way given everyone’s schedule. We arrived from a relaxing vacay with Mom in West Palm on Monday night, and Donna’s sister, Regina, a professional cake whisperer, arrived first thing the next day ready to work (and teach). I am cake challenged. I’m sweets challenged. My idea of sweets is pictured above. But the subject I’m writing about now, cleverly integrated into the above photo, demands that I address cakes. Thus, despite Regina’s patience, energy, and expertise, each day has for me ended with a feeling of depletion and fatigue, requiring a single end-of-the-day cocktail before I began dinner (which would be followed by more baking—cakes can be, should be, frozen—and/or photography). So I wanted something strong, complex, familiar, and easy at the end of these challenging days, no straining into a Read On »

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Today’s cocktail is in honor of my best friend’s latest biography out this week, Farther & Wilder: The Lost Weekends and Literary Dreams of Charles Jackson. Jackson is all but forgotten but was the toast of Hollywood for a time and a highly regarded novelist, best known for The Lost Weekend. The Wall Street Journal calls Blake Bailey’s book “brilliant and gripping,” which is all the more amazing in that the story is largely about literary failure. The Lost Weekend was until now Jackson’s only enduring legacy, and remembered only because a great movie was made of it. Blake, whom the Daily Beast and his next subject, Philip Roth, both called the best biographer working today, also wrote the award-winning Cheever biography, and his non-award-winning bio of Richard Yates, which was even better than Cheever in my opinion (shows Read On »

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Having recently delighted in Skyfall with son James, and with a fresh bottle of Lillet on hand, and having never tried this preposterous sounding cocktail with the beguiling name, well, I had to give the Vesper a go. Checking my resources I noticed that one, the very elegant and excellent ratio-oriented book, See Mix Drink, includes a twist of orange rather than the customary lemon twist. I contacted the author, Brian D. Murphy, who explained his rationale via email: “Alessandro, the bartender at the Dukes Hotel in London (where the cocktail originated), replaces the lemon with an orange peel. When I visited there and asked why, he said it pairs much better with the hint of orange in the Lillet Blanc—so well, in fact, that he believes the lemon peel in the original was a mistake. After tasting Read On »

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