Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

What cocktail to offer on Independence Day, the day some of the greatest political minds signed the document outlining the most secure and fair methods of governance, formally and with uncommon eloquence and foresight, and obliterating all ties with Great Britain? I suggest a smash, connoting demolition and also one of our country’s oldest cocktails, featuring one of our oldest spirits. I do so after consulting Brad Thomas Parsons, whose book Bitters I continue to admire. Responding to my email, he wrote: “Cocktails were born in America, but for that question, I guess I’m thinking less of an iconic drink like an Old-Fashioned or a Manhattan or a Martini, and instead, as it’s the Fourth of July, thinking about a spirit with heritage—something the American colonists might be drinking. Something like applejack or apple brandy. Laird & Company is America’s Read On »

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When I opened to the Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s wonderful and expanded food section, I was delighted to find a handful of bartenders offering cocktails. The Derby, offered by Lindsey Hawes, who mixes drinks at The Willeyville in the Cleveland Flats, caught my eye (here she is making another fave of mine, The Dark & Stormy). The Derby  caught my eye for its straightforwardness and lack of frou. I immediately thought of the Brown Derby, a restaurant chain that flourished here in the 1970s, where I first encountered what was called a salad bar, back in the pre-sneeze guard days (God, how I long for the simpler times when people didn’t freak out about bacteria and rub sanitizing gel on their hands every five minutes). Potatoes came foil wrapped (an actual botulism worry, in fact). Butter Read On »

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I love the clean and pure daiquiri, nothing more than a rum sour. I love a mint julep for its power and herbal freshness. But one thing I don’t like is large fragments of leaves floating in my drink and ever threatening to catch on my front tooth mid-conversation. I felt like a daiquiri last weekend and made some hastily. I wanted to perfect it. To get more depth from the sugar, I made a simple syrup of brown sugar (equal parts water and brown sugar, heated to dissolve the sugar, then cooled). I pulverized the mint in a mortar, then let the rum soak with it to infuse. Then I strained the rum through a cloth. I combined it all and topped it with sparkling water. It seemed to me the perfect mojito, and Read On »

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We’ve been on the road visiting our son at camp and have returned to the usual sea of email and backlog of work. So forgive me for reposting this classic, the Mojito. I’m not sure if everyone has seen the nightly news, but there are reports of a widespread heat wave. Just wanted to make sure you all knew. So if you’re in just about any place in the Lower 48, I definitely recommend preparing this cocktail in its traditional manner, in a highball glass, topped with soda water, plenty of it if temps are in the high nineties where you are. Originally posted June 8, 2012 I’ve loved seeing the mutability of cocktails simply by changing the spirit during these Friday Cocktail Hour posts. This cocktail is in effect a mint julep made with Read On »

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In honor of the noble city of Charleston, SC, which I sadly depart today, I repost a drink I associate with the South. I had a rather tough go with my first julep experience (below), but I’ve come to regard it as one of my favorite cocktails, especially now as the mint has sprouted and the weather has warmed. I must must must thank four souls who have made this thirteen-hour shoot not seem like even an eight-hour day, owing to the fact that they have been spending eighteen-hour days prepping out the six demos I’m filming for Le Creuset. These souls are, of course, the cooks. Nick Garcia, sous chef at Kiawah Island Club. He’s been the ace chef de cuisine. On the other end Tyler Osteen (@jtosteen), jack of all or at least Read On »

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