While sorting through books for an upcoming move, I came upon my husband's cache of Agatha Christie mysteries and have been devouring them all summer. My favorites were written during the 1920's and 1930s, a period that roughly coincides with the heyday of the cocktail. While Christie's characters aren't heavy drinkers, they do like their gin: pink gin, double gin, gin fizz. In The Murder at the Vicarage, the fussy Mrs. Ridley describes her reaction to hearing a gun shot: "Clara had to bring me a glass of damson gin!" And here's Tony Marston, pausing on his way to an island retreat in And Then There Were None: "Heaps of time! . . . He'd have a gin and ginger beer. Fizzing hot day!" Given his fate, poor Mr. Marston should have stayed for a second and missed his ferry to Indian Island. Keep reading »
Summer cocktail lists may be full of fruit and flowers, but when the heat really gets up there, I'm less interested in something that showcases the brilliant market season, and much more inclined towards drinks that are dry, bitter, and refreshing. In previous years this has meant my drink of choice is a pink gin and tonic (gin, tonic, and a healthy dose of Angostura bitters), but this summer I've given myself over to something even more ideal: equal parts white vermouth and soda water stirred together over ice. Maybe a hulled strawberry or a wedge of plum thrown in as garnish, maybe not. Keep reading »
I've lately become enamored with a non-alcoholic beverage—which, let's face it, is not something that happens to me very often. But on hot July afternoons in my unairconditioned office, I find myself facing a wall of futility that would only be worsened by the sedative effects of alcohol. (Despite the tempting name, a corpse reviver doesn't quite do the trick when there are still hours of work to be done.) And so I turn to my new best friend: the lime rickey. Keep reading »
We've always joked about getting my dad a salt lick for Christmas. He's an avid salter, shaking it copiously onto everything he eats—to prove a point, my mom has tried preemptively over-salting our food to make it inedible, but in all my life, I've only heard him once say something was too salty to eat.
I'm my father's daughter, especially when it comes to cocktails: I'll often order a margarita just to lick the rim, devoted to the mineral balance it brings to the drink's sour tang. When I had a celery gimlet during a recent dinner at New York's Saxon + Parole, I had the same sensation of balance: salt of course, matched with the herbal sweetness of chartreuse, celery juice, and bitters. The composition was familiar, but the flavor was something entirely new. When I asked bartender Naren Young about his inspiration for the drink, he told me about his love of using salts and vinegars in cocktails, saying "they hit your palate in places that other ingredients and acids simply don't." His version of the celery gimlet calls for no less than nine ingredients, so I simplified it a bit for an at-home tipple—though I'll definitely be going back for the real thing soon. Keep reading »
From SAVEUR Issue #148
When Dushan Zaric was a child in Belgrade, Serbia, there were two kinds of grenadine: the crimson, sugary commercial kind and the homemade pomegranate syrups made by his parents and their friends. Each winter, there would be a flurry of juicing, reducing, sweetening, and spicing—cinnamon, cardamom, orange-flower water—resulting in a fragrant, balanced syrup. That memory inspired Zaric and his partner, Jason Kosmas, of the Manhattan restaurant Employees Only, to create Employees Only Grenadine, a swarthy, not-too-sweet syrup that has more in common with the flavors of the Levant than with other, saccharine grenadines. Keep reading »
Central Park was about as close as I ever got to the countryside as a kid. It was there that I enjoyed my first picnics, warm summer afternoons full of delicious, messy food— chief among them watermelon, which captured my imagination with its gargantuan size, its marbled rind, and its vibrant, seed-studded, sticky-sweet fruit. Still, it's been some time since I've actually considered hauling home one of the huge, heavy things, let alone bringing one to a picnic. So it was with with as much surprise as delight that I found myself buying a watermelon for the first time in years in order to make a pitcher of The Merchant's Wife, a gin-based cocktail from Santa Monica chef Jeff Mahin that takes its vibrant pink hue and subtle flavor from the melon's sweet juice. Keep reading »
It was hot the last time I was in Beijing. But summer is always hot in the northern capital—July and August temperatures regularly reach over 40° Celsius, which doesn't sound too bad until you do the mental calculation and realize that it means over 104° Fahrenheit. Years ago, when I briefly lived and studied there, I rode out the heat on a bike, creating my own breeze as I sailed across the campus of Tsinghua University and through the city's streets. At home in my host family's apartment, I learned to love eating chilled fruit, slowly making my way through a bag of cold lychee or longans during the long, hot afternoons. And in the evenings, my friends and I beat the heat at rustic, outdoor restaurants (the only places we could afford) while drinking large bottles of cold, nearly flavorless Chinese beer. Keep reading »
A complex, multi-faceted cocktail is a wonderful thing, but on a particularly hot or lazy day, we want something potent and delicious, without having to clutter up the kitchen counter with a half-dozen ingredients. With no obscure ingredients or time-consuming prep, these 20 cocktails call for a maximum of 3 ingredients (plus an optional garnish, here and there), meaning they're virtually zero-effort: the perfect recipe for relaxation. See the recipes »
There's something ineffably summery about a Negroni. The strong herbal dryness of Campari and vermouth, the light medicinal tang of gin — it's a case of the whole being quite a bit greater than the sum of its parts. But for someone like me who's always seeking a drink that makes good use of brown spirits, in warm-weather months a Negroni often winds up being just a pleasant placeholder between me and my next julep or vieux carré.
But one night not too long ago at Talde, chef Dale Talde's wonderful and idiosyncratic Asian-American restaurant, after working through much of the cocktail list with a group of friends and chatting with master bartender John Bush about our taste in booze, he brought over something off-menu: the Al Capone. Keep reading »
From SAVEUR Issue #148
Apparently, I needed guidance. It was late on my first night in Flanders, Belgium's Dutch-speaking northern region. Gothic spires punctured the clouds over the city of Antwerp. I had dined at De Groote Witte Arend, a restaurant that specializes in dishes cooked with and paired with beers. I was full and drowsy. But having heard that a bar called Bierhuis Kulminator had perhaps the world's greatest stash of rare Belgian beers, I had ventured there for a nightcap. Intimidated by the shelves packed with corked bottles, I stared, at a loss, at the tome-like beer list. An older gentleman sitting at the bar pointed at his glass. Keep reading »