We’ve taken up part-time residence in Manhattan and discovered that our downstairs neighbor is Tobin Ludwig, one of the partners in Hella Bitters. We were having cocktails in his apartment when he passed around some exquisite cantaloupe. In season, it was juicy and sweet; chewing, Tobin said, “This would go great in a cocktail.” And the challenge was on. He would follow the local and seasonal in creating an elegant summer cocktail using cantaloupe and the basil that is in full flourish, infusing reposado tequila, made from the highly vegetal cactus plant, with this herbaceous leaf. “Basil is a great cocktail ingredient,” Tobin says, “because it’s so versatile. It can go savory or sweet.” To infuse spirits with herbs, combine torn leaves with the spirit of your choice for 48 hours and strain. For basil Read On »

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This has become my favorite of Donna’s cocktail shots because it so accurately reflects the experience of drinking it. And as she’s on the road, playing hooky from her camera, I’m reposting this perfect summer cocktail. It’s dry and hot here in Clevelandtown, and these are seriously refreshing. Tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda. Couldn’t be simpler. I love Tequila Ocho Reposado. Normally I save the good stuff for straight-up drinking, but it’s worth using in the Paloma because the lime and grapefruit flavors intermingle with and elevate, rather than obscure, the flavor of the tequila. And I make it strong, so I can taste it, goddammit. Izze is excellent soda (not too sweet, lots of carbonation) and it’s what my grocery store carries. Jarritos is the brand most often recommended. But half grapefruit juice and half soda Read On »

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I had my first Paloma in Ixtapa, Mexico, during a blog seminar I was invited to and fell in love with it. I think I had ninety-five before the week was out. By the end of the evening I couldn’t even remember the name. (Though I remember Garrett becomes very talkative after about seven or eight.) I still see the Mexican bartender carefully saying, PAH-LOW-MA to me. I would repeat as best I could, but he could see he’d be repeating himself in a half hour. Now, of course, is not the time to have ninety-five Palomas but one solid one for the cocktail hour. It is HOT, and these are REFRESHING! In fact, exactly as refreshing as the above example looks in Donna’s lovely photo. The Paloma is simply tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda. I’m Read On »

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