Here’s how it happened. When my mom asked me what she could give me for my 50th birthday, I said “A Broadway show and a nice meal, just the two of us.” The restaurant she chose was one of her faves, Marea, but then she changed her mind—her pal Cynthia, with whom she was staying on the UN-traffic-clogged East Side, said we had, had, had to go to Omar’s—only open ten weeks. I hadn’t heard of it. Checked it out on Urban Daddy—interesting but I hate clubs. I looked into the namesake and thought, South American party boy—I don’t know, Ma. But she’d reserved it, even ordered a car for after the theater for the special occasion, so I didn’t argue. It’s in one of my favorite neighborhoods, West Ninth between Fifth and Sixth, and we descended from the sidewalk to Read On »

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Lollygagging in the West Village a few weeks ago, Donna and her pal Lee wandered into the Fatty ‘Cue, and there found one of the servers experimenting with fat-washed rye. I had that very week been working with a schmaltz-washed rye (whiskey infused with the fat’s flavor), so I took it as an omen owing to my wife’s unfailing good karma. She fired off some quick shots and I asked Wilmer, above, for the story and the results.  Here with the Friday cocktail, a spicy take on the classic Manhattan that morphed into a kind of Old-Fashioned, thanks to the ingenious Massa Syrup, and Fatty ‘Cue’s “master fat,” combination of fat from various meats, clarified. This drink takes some planning, so if you’re drinking along with the Friday Cocktail hour, in lieu of the Old Read On »

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Learn a bit more about the quirky film maker and his ways, via Wall Street Journal.

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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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Taking up part-time residence in New York City last month, I was delighted to meet a downstairs neighbor, Tobin Ludwig, who makes the lovely Hella Bitters. What good karma for our new old building! “What is your favorite use of bitters?” I asked. For someone who makes bitters, he struggled. I pushed. He relented and said, “A rum old fashioned.” What a splendid idea, I thought. Last night a tweet asked me for a cocktail with a good rum. And so there it was. The rum old-fashioned called. The weather has cooled, I have some most excellent rum, and the sweetness and the bitters combine for a great summer rum cocktail. But lo—there was more, karma-wise. I returned to my original old-fashioned post and noticed that I’d used Hella bitters, long before I’d met Tobin! Read On »

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