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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I’m old-fashioned, I admit, and this is another Friday cocktail post devoted to classic cocktails. It’s not because I’m nostalgic (though I am). It’s because classics are classics for a reason: they’re good. There’s a reason you don’t have a Swanson’s TV dinner in your freezer but will never tire of a well-made Martini. My dad was a Martini man. He was also an Ad Man (who actually looked a lot like Don Draper), a creative director at a Cleveland ad firm where I interned the summer after my freshman year of college. He was a gin drinker. I still remember my first revulsion at gin. I asked him what he had in that plastic cup of his. He told me it was a Martini. Go ahead, he said, taste it. I did. How on Read On »

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Last week’s post on the perfect martini evoked a heated, then spirited, back and forth on twitter, sparked by bartender Gerry Jobe. It ultimately resulted in his suggesting I give a martinez a go. I had a look at a tweeted link and then at my new favorite drink book, Bitters, by Brad Thomas Parsons; he dates the cocktail to 1887: two parts sweet vermouth, 1 part gin, maraschino liqueur, Boker’s bitters and a twist. Sounded intriguing, sort of like a martini and a negroni doing a tango. But I prefer a more muscular cocktail—more gin, less sweetness—and offer here a variation on what was a week ago an unknown cocktail. I’m calling it The Berkshire Martinez, because that’s where it was first made, Berkshire Road, Cleveland Heights, last night and photographed by Donna. It Read On »

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