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Content about Drinks

Forget about the hallucinations; one needs to dish this thing out in drops.
I'm not sure if there is a better drink to write about for the launch of an improved website design than my favorite cocktail of the moment — a drink so good it's literally called an "Improved Cocktail." (If only modern drinks had enough courage to pronounce their worth.) Think of it as a relaunched product's "new and improved" guarantee, except that this one was made back in 1876 and is alcoholic....
Tristan Coulter of Chicago's Metropolis Coffee Explains the Pour-Over Technique
I discovered the first inklings of my obsessive nature while making coffee in college. So many things can go wrong. So many ways to go right off the cliff. What should be routine and pleasurable becomes stressful, maddening, disappointing. The beans, the water, the tools, the process, and the thin line between greatness and mediocrity. None are exempt from mistakes.  And of course, no one has ingested any caffeine yet. And we know what...
Nick enjoys the comforts of a 100 year old recipe.
I have a thing for hotel bars. It helps if they are opulent old ones, designed to comfort the wealthy traveler from a 100 years ago. Sure, the drinks aren't necessarily the best, and the service can be uninspired and overly corporate, but I feel immediately relieved when I walk into some grand old space like Chicago's exquisite Palmer House in the Loop. Plus, I'm just not sure there is a better place to have a cocktail. Served...
Ginger, Lemon, Sugar, Yeast...and 24 hours.
File this one under projects that seem a lot harder than they actually are. A week or two ago, my wife tore out a couple pages in the New York Times Style magazine about a shop in Melbourne, Australia that combines style, bespoke fashion, and great food under one roof called Captains of Industry (here it is as an interactive online feature).  Besides all the cool ideas and wavelengths that must bounce around in that shop, they...
For those who don't particularly like rhubarb.
"I hate rhubarb." That was the first sentence uttered by my local butcher after I described this sauce I wanted to make to pair with some pork chops. To be fair, rhubarb is a much-maligned spring vegetable. I was just convinced that I had to love it, and that I’d instantly find all kind of amazing uses for it. Though rhubarb and I don’t have much history to contend with, in cooking more that one dish with it in the...
Or how to restore punch to its former glory
Until recently, my first thought upon hearing the word "punch" was a frat party, something electric red, and indiscriminate drinking--a concoction spiked with a slew of spirits that might be laying around and then covered in Koolaid. That seems to be the reputation punch has gotten—but if cocktail writer Dave Wondrich has anything to say about it, we are all missing the point. Punch is not the currency of undistinguishing...
A Variation on a Classic That Goes Down a Little Easier
Ah, gimlets. I've always been too much of a wuss to enjoy them. The gimlet is all harsh lime and bracing alcohol, befitting to manlier men like the British seaman who invented it, at some point in the 19th century, halfway across the Atlantic. They were looking for their allotment of vitamin C (scurvy sucks), had Rose's lime juice, and they were drinking a lot of gin. How's that for a cocktail history? Today, the gimlet is still...
With one secret ingredient
For the third year in a row, Nick and I will be spending our New Years Eve with friends eating tacos and drinking cocktails. It's become something of a tradition, fondly known as Cocktails and Carnitas, and I can hardly wait. It's a given that the food is good. But we also believe in drinking very, very good cocktails. Cocktail. Rather than conjuring up images of sugary vodka-laced concoctions, the word cocktail evokes for us a...
An afternoon learning about "Grahampagne"
Through a heavy, metal door with "Brewery Employees Only" slapped on the front, I was led into a warm, steamy room where Goose Island beer is made. I side-stepped hoses and puddles of water and found a capacious space filled with slanted light; up above, at the top of a skinny ladder, great tanks of beer were lined up at various stages of aging and fermentation on a platform, were Goose Island's brewmaster Jared was talking to...
Gin, lemon juice, and egg white make for a drink designed to cool you down
I'm not sure if the Silver Fizz was developed in Chicago, or if it was just popular for a time around 1883. But I have to believe that there is a correlation between cocktails and the cities that embrace them. Wine has a tie to the land, and cuisines are based around what's local and fresh. So it's my humble opinion that the Silver Fizz was built to cool the heads and stomachs of men without air conditioning, and I imagine there...
The Turf Club is an ancestor to the martini: less shockingly dry, and a little more vivacious
Do you remember your first Martini? Mine came while I was still working as a waiter. After a long, hard shift, all of us would sit around a table and get one free drink before heading home. Usually I went for the coldest beer I could fine, but that day I held my head high and ordered a Martini. It felt good to say it out loud, and it arrived all handsome and clean with a single olive in it. It was beautiful, which didn't initially mean...
April 9, 2010
Substituting brandy in this variation on a classic cocktail.
Making cocktails is a tricky business. The balance--between sour and sweet, harsh and smooth--can easily be lost if one isn't careful; most recipes are so expertly calibrated that making any kind of substitution is a bad idea. A cocktail is often a significant investment that goes down the drain if you screw it up (or in my case, gulped down with a wince because I am incapable of admitting defeat). Some rarer cocktail ingredients are...
Taking the balance in a whole new direction
Do they belong together? Most cocktails have too much sugar in them. I'm not sure when the barrage of overly sweet cocktails began (not to mention the tradition of putting mini umbrellas in the glass), but it leaves me with a stomach ache. Unlike the bracing experience of an Old Fashioned, possibly the first cocktail to be invented in a dusty bar in the 19th century, a succinct, aromatic sip that slowly grows on you, most cocktails...
What we did with an unwanted bottle of vodka
I cannot be fooled. If a bartender accidentally swaps vodka for some gin in my drink, I can tell. I'm not trying to be difficult, but I will send it back. Why? Because I hate vodka. Hate hate hate hate it. I hate the way it smells, and how it makes me feel. While I can talk your ear off about every other spirit you throw at me (Gin, Rum, Tequila, and especially Bourbon), I don't really have anything nice to say about that clear...
Other uses for the unloved spirit.
I have this large bottle of vodka and I don't know what to do with it. It was lugged over by a friend (Blake) during a party as some kind of gift for the festivities, but I could see through his evil plan. He was trying to pawn this half finished bottle off on me because he didn't want to drink it. Sure enough, while the whiskey and gin were manhandled during the party, stirred and shaken into all manner of cocktails, that bottle of...
Our favorite drinks of 2009.
Obviously, this site is mostly devoted to cooking, and always has been. But watchful readers may have noticed over the years the occasional post slipped in about drinking. We've thankfully improved our recipes since the very first drinking post on this site, which involved mixing dark beer from New York's oldest pub, McSorley's, and some cheap vanilla ice cream. The result was the beer shake, which turned out bitter...
It's pink, but manly
To stretch the metaphor, the essential DNA of the Daisy involves adding a little soda water to a Sour (spirit, citrus, sweetener). Beyond that, though, you can take some liberties. - Imbibe Magazine If you're not too careful, cocktails can swallow you into an alternative universe of reason where there are no right answers. The perfectly proportioned Negroni, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, is the exception to the rule--no...
November 13, 2009
Perhaps the most perfect cocktail.
"A proper Negroni is as perfectly and tripodically balanced as, say, a water molecule. " - Jonathan Miles The Negroni is an incorruptible drink. While the martini can be perverted by nefarious substances like apple pucker and vodka and many places make Margaritas by simply drizzling a little tequila in a cup of sugary mix, a Negroni is a Negroni. It has three ingredients (gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari) and their...
Thoughts about our first batch of cider.
There is no feeling in the world like popping open a batch of cider and realizing what you have created alcohol. It's really hard to describe. We've made all kinds of recipes before, including some meals that have taken days to prepare. But alcohol always seemed a little unreal, and dangerous. Making alcohol always felt too technical and lab-like. And if you're brewing beer, that's sort of true: you'll need a...
October 29, 2009
Our guide to turning apple juice into booze.
As we realized on our last post, it was time to stop talking emphatically about the cultural significance of cider, and start getting to the business of making it. Though we had read more websites, emails, and books than we could know what to do with, we were still confused, and more importantly, l didn't have a solid recipe. It was beginning to be a problem. At its simplest, hard apple cider is pressed and strained apples that are...
October 22, 2009
Why every American should drink more cider.
Currently Blake and I have four gallons of apple cider fermenting in the back of his bedroom closet. The hope is that in a few days, thanks to some hungry yeast, we'll have something that might resemble hard apple cider. We're honestly nervous. We've undertaken ridiculous experiments before, but nothing that could potentially get us hammered. If it works, then we'll have made an alcoholic drink for less than it costs to buy...
Whisky and sugar combine to make an unforgettable cocktail.
Recently Nick and I were in the gritty West Loop neighborhood of Chicago, after a long, pork-ridden meal at The Publican, where we fed on cracklins, rillettes, belly, shoulder, and all manner of sausages. We slipped out of the restaurant happy and stuffed into the long fluorescent shadows, in search of a good bar to aid all the oncoming digesting to be done. We ended up at Matchbox, a slender little bar no more than 10 feet wide, but well...
Nick throws a perfect Derby party.
The authentic Julep is a drink from the Heroic Age of American Tippling, and as such is not for novices. That's perhaps the chief reason it's fallen out of favor in these weak-livered times. - David Wondrich I'll get to the julep soon enough.  But first I want to talk about the Kentucky Derby.  Though I grew up on the Indiana side of the Ohio River, I don't care much about the Indy 500.  I lived far...
The perfection introduction to mixed drinks.
  Over the past year or so, Nick and I have developed a kind of unhealthy obsession with cocktails -- some could argue literally.  We've quietly stocked our cabinets with liquers, liquors, bitters; our fridge doors are weighed down with vermouths (yes, they should be refrigerated) and simple syrups; a regular supply of rye whiskey, bourbon and gin comes and goes, mixed with a recurring stockpile of freshly-squeezed citrus...
It's a tale of the old and the new.  Of the high and the low.  It's Wild Turkey and Maker's Mark, two bourbons I love, but couldn't be more different from each other.  The Turkey is a high rye bourbon made to grip your taste buds and warm your insides, while smooth and seductive Maker's Mark is the gentleman's choice, somewhat conservative and much more expensive.  Feeling guilty that I hadn't visited these two landmarks the...
I took a little break from food this past weekend, turning my back on all the pieces of meat curing in my stairwell (I’ll get to those later in the week), and set off for the rolling hills of Kentucky to sip the best bourbon I could.  I’d been blabbering on and on to my brother-in-law about the stuff for well over six months now and it was about time to actually see where it all came from.  What started as a simple trip...
February 15, 2007
The other night, when everyone was hunkered down in their apartments waiting for the snowstorm to envelop us, I made hot chocolate.  Cold weather and snow are among the best excuses to indulge in this gastronomic excess (I'm talking about the stuff made from scratch).  It is sometimes acceptable in the instance of rainy weather, or thunderstorms.  Otherwise, it's simply gluttony. There are ground rules to good hot chocolate....
Let's say you're just not feeling the joy you need to properly celebrate a festive party.  It's the holiday season, and you need a slightly alcoholic milk product to help you reach that next level of cheer.  The store-bought stuff?  Gluey and tasting of artificial thickeners.  You need some true, homemade eggnog--that's been established.  Perhaps you prepared for this situation and made the excellent looking nog from...
New York's famed coffee shop teaches us about the world's beans
I was into good coffee before I was into good food, since I was drinking it every day of my life, and I figured I might as well make it the best it could be.  (Though I was discouraged by Balzac's warning: "When you have reached the point of consuming this kind of coffee, then become exhausted and decide that you really must have more, even though you make it of the finest ingredients and take it perfectly fresh, you will fall into...