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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Gin-Hound-Cocktail-2

  I awoke to a morning so deathly gray I felt I’d awakened in a cave. It wasn’t early, 7:30, not school-time early as spring break is still in effect. So the sun had surely risen but had there been no clock, it would have been anybody’s guess. Deep Cleveland winter drags on. Donna, light-sensitive and not used to such long sun withdrawals, is particularly affected by that light disorder thing, whose acronym I don’t even like to write, and wants to hibernate like a bear till May. Skip the cruelest month altogether. The grayness not only deepens the hay-hue of dull dead grass, freed from the snow at last, the brown tree branches, it dulls the senses as well. The wind outside my window, and inside my chest, blows with a kind of Last 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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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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