I am, for better or for worse, a creature of habit—and nowhere in my life is it more pronounced than in my restaurant-going behavior. When I’m not eating for work (frequent dining out being an occupational hazard for a food editor), I tend to rotate among a handful of favorite spots. Most Saturday mornings I wind up at Jack’s Wife Freda, a great little restaurant with wood-framed windows looking out over Lafayette Street in Soho, my favorite neighborhood in New York for brunch-time people watching. And most of the time, I order the exact same thing: a coffee, a mint lemonade, and a flawlessly lemony, olive-y kale Greek salad. It had never really occurred to me to stray from the tried-and-true, until one day when my husband Jim and I showed up a few hours later than our usual routine arrival time—closer to dinner than lunch, really—and I was handed, for the first time, a menu with a list of cocktails on it.
One of the things I love most about Jack’s Wife Freda is its simplicity. The menu is thoughtfully brief, the dishes are straightforward, the flavors are clear and bright. The cocktail list was no different, a tight group of clever offerings, but one of them stood out to me immediately: the Bootsy Collins. A punchy update to a classic Tom Collins—a generous dose of Lillet Rouge, an herbaceous fortified red wine, amps up the Collins’s color, flavor, and potency—is an apt drink to bear the name of the famously flamboyant funk bassist. The recipe is simple, and I’ve made it maybe a half-dozen times in the last week. Already, it seems, I’ve formed a new habit.