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...

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 Paupered Chef Gift Guide

16th Dec 2009

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Well, guess we better throw our hats in the ring: it's the time of year for gift guides and we're not afraid to participate. We've avoided it for 4 years, but our streak is about to come to an end: we hereby present the first annual Paupered Chef gift guide.

We've got kitchen gear to recommend, and some awesome food products, too. From what we have learned, cooks really just need a few basi...

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 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 ...

Benedictine Spread and a Mint Julep or Two

Nick throws a perfect Derby party.

30th Apr 2009

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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 5...

The Elements of Chili

A recipe for Texas-style chili.

30th Jan 2009

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Diced instead of Ground Meat
I had stopped using ground beef a few years back, after watching a Good Eats episode. The reasoning makes sense.  When ground beef is used, the fat either needs to be drained off immediately, or needs to be skimmed off the day after when all the fat has accumulated at the top.  But if you use chunks a lot of the juices stay inside, leaving both the chili less...

Bourbon Tour 3: Jim Beam and Heaven Hill

9th Nov 2008

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Oh, geez, where to begin.  While Blake was off gallivanting around the eternal city sampling the finer things in life , I was once again down in Kentucky on another bourbon tour.  I'm sure Blake spent his free time strolling along ancient streets admiring priceless art.  Yet, here I was staring down a family - complete with dog - made from whiskey barrels (the one with a...

The Young Man and the Cocktail

The perfection introduction to mixed drinks.

23rd May 2008

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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

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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...

Steak au Poivre: Real Cheap and Kind of Authentic

First was the rather easy substitution of bourbon for the cognac

17th Sep 2007

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I tend to spend way too much time researching what I'm going to eat.  Nearly every recipe is cross-examined against other works I have, just to make sure I'm doing things correctly.  But I was on to this recipe the moment I saw Alton pull out his steaks.  I didn't check if this was the authentic way to make this, I just went for it.

What could cause me to go into such enthusiastic fits?  S...

Handmade Eggnog: Creates Arm Pain, Soothes Arm Pain

20th Dec 2006

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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 t...

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...

Filet Mignon the Poor Man''s Way

15th Nov 2006

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Every weekend I quickly scan Fairway's specials to see what deal I'll get off with this week.  This time, I thought it was a joke, because I saw this sucker staring back at me .   Filet Mignon for $5.99, which is a minor miracle on par with shooting stars and finding a real pastrami sandwich.  Considering this cut regularly fetches prices that stumble towards the $20 mark, something...