the-last-martini

For now, that is. I need to focus on work and, well, most things come to an end, no? Though the inevitable catastrophe of death awaits us all, not so for the finest cocktail: The Martini. As perfect as a sonnet, Mencken said. I began The Friday Cocktail Hour two and a half years ago with a martini (outraged, outraged!, when I ordered a martini and was asked which vodka I preferred). I attached a memory of the best martini of my life to my first book contract this spring. And with a martini I finish. Because this concludes, for the nonce, my beloved Friday Cocktail Hour, we shall call this one the Is That All There Is? Martini. Gin, almost needless to say, flavored with vermouth and lemon, something to sip for comfort as Read On »

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The-Ben-Smith-cocktail-@102

I read about this impromptu cocktail in Molly Wizenberg’s new memoir, Delancey, about her and her husband’s opening of a restaurant in Seattle, one specializing in pizza, her Jersey-born husband’s culinary love. Wizenberg, author of A Homemade Life and the blog Orangette, is a felicitous writer, and her latest is a lovely memoir about love and food and the crazy decisions we make based on nothing reliable and the risks we take, and the really, really hard work of running a restaurant, even a casual pizzeria. Molly and Brandon’s good friend, Ben, offered this cocktail, which appealed to my inner skinflint, with its insistence on cheap gin. Love that. Wizenberg names it grandly: The Benjamin Wayne Smith. I am adding vermouth (because it benefits from it), which Wizenberg also suggests, and because of the modification Read On »

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Martini-Not-stirred-cocktai

On September 24, 1993, I walked out of the offices of the publisher Henry Holt, having just gotten my first book contract. Donna was with me to share my elation. It was my dad’s 55th birthday (he shared that day, BTW, with my literary hero, though not role model, Scott Fitzgerald)—an auspicious day. We could hardly believe it. Even Donna said it out loud to herself, a little incredulously, “My husband has a book contract.” I was thirty and had been trying to write books for nine years and had been writing daily since sixth grade. We walked uptown to tell a friend the good news. I was sure I’d get hit by a bus. That’s me. When something this good happens, something worse has to happen as well. On Park Avenue, a taxi with a flat Read On »

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Metropolitan-Cocktail@1020

Last week’s delicious Sidecar got me onto drinks featuring brandy. This, combined with my interest in how changing the spirit changes the name, brings me to today’s cocktail (photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman), the Metropolitan. The Manhattan is a beloved Ruhlman family cocktail; the Metropolitan is essentially a Manhattan made with brandy. This is a delicious cocktail, made especially fine with these genuine maraschino cherries. Donna says a single one of them can be considered an entire dessert. Indeed, this is a garnish that truly completes this cocktail, which is a complex mixture of brandy, sweet vermouth, bitters, a small bit of simple syrup, and the cherries. I’m happy again to feature Hella Bitters, from my downstairs neighbor in New York, Tobin Ludwig, currently visiting Cleveland I’m proud to note—and what a glorious day it Read On »

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Martinez-2@540

                                                          I’m in Chicago this weekend interviewing and hanging out with Grant Achatz. Grant, executive chef of Chicago’s Alinea, Next, and the innovative cocktail hub Aviary, is of course one of the most talented cooks and chefs in the country, but what makes this relationship special for me is that I first met Grant at the French Laundry, where he was, when I arrived to discuss writing The French Laundry Cookbook with Thomas Keller, a 23-year-old working garde manger station. I think I’ll be reflecting on all that’s happened in this nearly two-decade span. Until then, a repost of one of my favorite cocktails, of my own creation and named Read On »

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