An All Agave Project has begun in Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in Santa Fe featuring the top agave sips of Mexico, via La Times.

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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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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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Cinco de Mayo is Sunday. How many of you know what it celebrates or why? Shaw Lash is one of the key cooks and brains in the Rick Bayless Chicago operations, places I really admire. Last year she wrote why, having grown up in Texas and later lived in Mexico, the Cinco de Mayo madness drives her mad. She wants you to know what it means and asks should we celebrate it at all. Her short answer: It’s a celebration of being Mexican. And it’s a brilliant American marketing gimmick. Shaw Lash is one of those aware people I admire, so when my able cohort Emilia suggested a tequila cocktail, I emailed Shaw. Shaw suggested a Margarita primer. There’s an extensive discussion of all drink issues in Rick and wife Deann’s book Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles Read On »

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I’ve written before in the depths of winter that now is grapefruit season and grapefruits were my first realization that food was in fact seasonal. It was 1989 and I’d grown up in a country where I could buy pretty much anything I knew about all year long and this was the natural way of the world. I’d fallen in love with Donna, who was a photographer for the Palm Beach Daily News, but I kept long-held plans and left her to travel Africa and Asia, only to find myself 10 weeks later on the porch of an American expatriate living in Ouagadougou. A monkey jumped onto my lap, and I thought What the hell am I doing in Ouagadougou when I’m in love with this beautiful photographer in southern Florida? I couldn’t answer the question. I caught Read On »

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