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  The best things in life happen when you say yes. I don’t know any great things that have happened because someone said no. And, of course, read the end of Ulysses if there’s any doubt about the ultimate nature of yes. The below is from my friend Claudia who will be opening Citizen Pie in Cleveland this fall along with her partner, Paulius of the Velvet Tango Room.—MR The Great Ricotta Cheesecake Experiment of August 2015 By Claudia Young One spring afternoon, four months ago, someone suggested, that we open a Neapolitan pizzeria. And of all the things that one might say in response to that—“We’ll have to think about that!” or “What an interesting concept, we’ll get back to you!” or “No”—we said “Yes.” Just like that. I wanted to make a culinary 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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  Cocktail Name Winner “Major Award,” from Stefan Was, of Cleveland, OH This was chosen from many, many wonderful names, by Paulius and Claudia, and I whole-heartedly embrace this great and elegant name, in its saying Cleveland without using Cleveland, its nuanced suggestion of Christmas and fun without saying either. Poetry! “Major Award” is a reference, of course, to one of my favorite movies, “A Christmas Story,” which opens in Cleveland’s Public Square. Donna and I never see a box with “Fragile” written on it without saying aloud, “Fra-GEE-lay.” Darren McGavin’s major award was of course, the famous leg lamp. Stop by Paulius’s Velvet Tango Room, and you’ll see the lamp in an upstairs window. Stefan, Paulius says come on in and you’ll have a Major Award on the house. I’ll get a copy of 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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By request and for my own curiosity, for my fascination with ginger beer, and most, my compulsion to SCREAM … indoor voice, Michael … deep breath … if you’re going to drink vodka, either admit you simply want to mainline alcohol (not a judgment! I’m there frequently myself!), or drink vodka that actually has flavor, such Ohio’s own OYO made from soft red winter wheat grown near its Columbus distillery. The Standard Bartender’s Guide, revised and enlarged by James A. Beard (originally published in 1940, before the Moscow Mule existed), instructs simply this: “Squeeze into a 12-ounce glass 1/2 Lime and drop in the Rind. Add ice cubes and 1-1/2 jiggers Vodka and fill with Ginger Beer. Stir and serve.” How easy is that?! (Verdict: cool, light, and very refreshing!) From the VTR menu: “Born of Read On »

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