swizzle

  In hot and humid NYC last week, we were invited downstairs to our neighbors Tobin (of Hella Bitters) and Jourdan for a cocktail. “I’m mixing swizzles,” he emailed. A perfect summer cocktail if ever there were one. Born centuries ago in the Caribbean, the swizzle is nothing more than booze, sugar, bitters, and soda, with plenty of crushed ice. Ideally you spin the crushed ice with an actual five-prong swizzle stick, made from a native plant, to help the sugar dissolve. (You can buy them at our go-to cocktail supply store, Cocktail Kingdom.) Tobin, a cocktail pro, used both Scotch and gin (in separate drinks; I requested gin, Donna had the scotch version below) along with a fiery Pasilla De Oaxaca bitters. But he noted that any spirit will work, and certainly rum would have been the spirit Read On »

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The Major Award/Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman Last year, Claudia Young created this truffle-infused cocktail for The Velvet Tango Room, Paulius Nasvytis’s well-known Cleveland bar. It’s today’s choice for the Friday Cocktail Hour because it is the very embodiment of the holidays: rich, fragrant, expensive, delicious. I loved milk punch when a friend introduced me to that simple concoction—bourbon, milk and sugar. This is a milk punch times ten—a decadent but simple combo of Scotch, truffled honey, and half-and-half. This Cleveland original (first posted here), was named by a Clevelander for a movie filmed here, a movie about Christmas. What more appropriate drink could there be as Christmas approaches for today’s Hour? The Major Award To serve 1: 1.5 ounces Oban (or other single-malt whiskey) 1 ounce truffle honey syrup made with a 1:1 water Read On »

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“You’re gonna be a Scotch drinker,” my Grandma Rose said to me at the end of a Christmas dinner, with an approving smile. I was all of about six years old. This was still the 1960s and everybody drank. I had asked for, and was given, a sip of my father’s after-dinner cordial, a tiny glass of Drambuie, and had claimed to like it. I did like it, in fact—unlike that nasty martini my father would often have (story of that first taste here). The Drambuie was syrupy sweet and I marveled at the way the alcohol seemed to blow up inside my mouth. Alas, a sip was all I would get. My tastes today, contrary to Rose’s prediction, run to bourbon, but I still love the flavor of Drambuie, the Scotch-based liqueur. It and Read On »

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Owing to a misspent youth and for reasons I’d rather not get into, I have no taste whatever for blended Scotch whiskeys. Thus the dearth of Scotch-based cocktails during the Friday Cocktail Hour. But there are some fine Scotch-based elixirs that deserve attention, such as the classic Rob Roy, inspired by a 19th-century Broadway show. This was a tradition back then, naming drinks after shows—a tradition worth reviving, I think.  How about it, mixers out there? Give me a Kinky Boots! Or go downtown with a Designated Mourner. Or my fave theater experience of the year, also at the Public Theater, Here Lies Love. I’d love to hear that uttered at a bar. “What’ll it be, pal?” “Here Lies Love.” “Comin’ right up.” Herewith, a true classic, served in classic proportions. I am forced by my Read On »

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A few weeks ago when Donna was gadding about in NYC, I asked my dear pal Lester if he’d have a drink with me at the best bar in the world, aka Velvet Tango Room. I wanted to have a look at its menu and to have a cocktail I created, or rather, riffed on a classic, The Martinez. Mine is called The Berkshire Martinez and I am honored to be on the menu. The bar’s owner is Paulius Nasvytis. In a tale too odd and complicated to go into here, he and Claudia Young, longtime Nashville resident, are an item. Before Lester and I could head off for some greezy Chinese chuck, Paulius and Claudia arrived. They had created a new cocktail and were eager for us to try it. It is a fabulous Read On »

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