How Absinthe Can Improve Just About Any Cocktail

Forget about the hallucinations; one needs to dish this thing out in drops.

6th Oct 2011

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 alcoh...

How to Enjoy Hotel Bars and the Seelbach Cocktail

Nick enjoys the comforts of a 100 year old recipe.

12th Jul 2011

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 bet...

Homemade Ginger Beer and the Dark ''n'' Stormy

Ginger, Lemon, Sugar, Yeast...and 24 hours.

8th Jun 2011

Ginger Beer

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...

Two Cocktails to Celebrate New Years Eve in Style

With one secret ingredient

31st Dec 2010
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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 conco...

The Silver Fizz: The Perfect Chicago Summer Cocktail

Gin, lemon juice, and egg white make for a drink designed to cool you down

25th May 2010

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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 a...

Birth of the Martini: The Turf Club

The Turf Club is an ancestor to the martini: less shockingly dry, and a little more vivacious

12th May 2010

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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...

The Strange Appeal of Vinegar in a Cocktail

Taking the balance in a whole new direction

18th Mar 2010

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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 si...

Homemade Compound Gin (No Bathtub Required)

What we did with an unwanted bottle of vodka

25th Feb 2010

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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...

My Perfect Daisy with Homemade Grenadine

It's pink, but manly

9th Dec 2009

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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 a...

The Negroni

Perhaps the most perfect cocktail.

13th Nov 2009

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"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, sw...

The Tombstone Whiskey Cocktail

Whisky and sugar combine to make an unforgettable cocktail.

2nd Oct 2009

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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 ...

The Young Man and the Cocktail

The perfection introduction to mixed drinks.

23rd May 2008


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 stoc...

Bourbon Tour 2: Wild Turkey and Maker''s Mark

16th May 2008


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 th...

Bourbon Tour 1: Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve

26th Feb 2008

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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...

Tommy''s Margarita

18th Jun 2007

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My drink of the summer so far has been the margarita, a fact that may leave most of you thinking, “so what?”  And normally that's fine--nothing is that impressive about a cut-rate tequila mixed with a big bottle of margarita mix that’s dumped in a salt crusted glass the size of a punch bowl.  But I’ve been messing with the holy trinity of lime, tequila and triple sec, thanks to one l...

Hot Toddy?

7th Dec 2006

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Feeling a little bit under the weather and a bit perturbed with my job, I returned home last night needing some kind of a cure.  Like hot chocolate made by your mother, I needed a home remedy with exactly zero medicinal value, which would warm me up and send me straight to bed.  I didn't have any chocolate, but I did have a great big bottle of Bourbon and one idea.

I wanted a hot toddy, eve...