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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Looks like vermouth is gaining steam in the cocktail world across the pond, via Independent UK.

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When I opened to the Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s wonderful and expanded food section, I was delighted to find a handful of bartenders offering cocktails. The Derby, offered by Lindsey Hawes, who mixes drinks at The Willeyville in the Cleveland Flats, caught my eye (here she is making another fave of mine, The Dark & Stormy). The Derby  caught my eye for its straightforwardness and lack of frou. I immediately thought of the Brown Derby, a restaurant chain that flourished here in the 1970s, where I first encountered what was called a salad bar, back in the pre-sneeze guard days (God, how I long for the simpler times when people didn’t freak out about bacteria and rub sanitizing gel on their hands every five minutes). Potatoes came foil wrapped (an actual botulism worry, in fact). Butter Read On »

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The creators of last week’s cocktail on fat-washed spirits, schmaltz, and rye, noted that the onion (which worked perfectly with the schmaltzy rye) recalled a Gibson. Loving the interconnectedness of cocktails, that is the choice for today’s Friday Cocktail Hour. The Gibson is a martini garnished with onion, and I like to underscore the difference between it and a martini by adding some of the pickling liquid. Because it features gin, use a good gin such as Beefeater, my fave. Same vermouth ratio as a martini, 20%, though vary this according to your tastes. Do you hear anyone asking for a vodka Gibson? Do you hear bartenders, upon being asked for a Gibson, respond, “Vodka or gin?” I think not. This is a serious cocktail with a sweet-sour-onion garnish, reflecting the serious and bittersweet recognition Read On »

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I actually hadn’t heard of a Negroni until Bourdain ordered one after an event we did at the 92nd Street Y. It wasn’t like him to be order a girly drink, I thought, when the server arrived with a pinkish, on-the-rocks concoction, so I took note. It would become one of my favorite cocktails, and I like it both on the rocks and up. It’s a simple but complex elixir originally created in Italy, comprising equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth, and gin. I prefer Hendrick’s gin for this but am not sure why—probably because of the cool bottle. Any decent gin will do. The VTR likes to flame orange zest oil over the drink. I prefer an actual squeeze of orange, its citrusy sweetness offsetting the bitter Campari. Some people suggest some orange bitters. All to Read On »

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