Pamplemousse Vieux Mot, a mixture of gin, St. Germain, and citrus. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Enamored of the elderflower liqueur, St. Germain, and looking for a cocktail that would give me an excuse to reach for its unique bottle, My Girl Friday and I both found this lovely new cocktail, a variation on the Vieux Mot, perfect for late winter when good grapefruits are still coming in. Citrusy and floral, a perfect libation and anticipation of spring, which can’t get here soon enough for me. The Vieux Mot, French for old saying or wise old saying, combines gin, St. Germain, and lemon. This variation, the Pamplemousse Vieux Mot, adds grapefruit juice, thanks to a lovely blog we found, the Bojon Gourmet, by food stylist and photographer Alanna Taylor-Tobin, whose lovely photos feature her expertise in pastry (currently pain au chocolat, using rye flour for the laminated dough, inspired by the Read On »

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It’s race week here in Key West, but my thoughts are with Donna in chilly Cleveland. It’s winter when I most crave bitters in a cocktail. Happily a suggestion on Twitter brought up a new cocktail for me, the Bitter Elder, and before I departed for southern climes, we gave it a go. The cocktail, which balances the bitterness of Campari with the sweet elderberry flavors of the liqueur, makes for a splendid libation, especially for those in the cold grays of the north. I salute you from the southernmost and wish you a happy Friday Cocktail Hour. The Bitter Elder 1.5 ounces gin 0.5 ounces Campari 0.5 ounces St. Germain 0.5 ounces lemon juice Twist of lemon Stir the liquids with ice in a shaker and pour into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a 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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A couple weeks ago, inspired by my BFF Blake Bailey’s latest bio, Farther and Wilder (boffo WSJ review here), I offered a Tom Collins, gin-lemon-soda. But on retrospect it was only OK—it would be the perfect libation on a hot summer evening, but it was March. Also, I could hardly taste the gin, and what’s the point of that unless you’re drinking the cheap shit? Just to check, I ordered one last weekend at a restaurant and it was so bad I didn’t even finish it (which is not like me, that’s how bad it was—how do you screw up something as simple as that?). But I loved the idea of the heavy lemon. I loved the idea of, every now and then, not being aware of the alcohol in my drink. What does this lead to? 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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