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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Recipes

A Rye Toast to J.D. Salinger

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© Alessandra Bulow
Rye House Punch at Rye House in NYC

In a tribute to J.D. Salinger, the famously reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye, who passed away this week, my colleague Kristin Donnelly and I raised a glass to him last night at Rye House, a new cocktail bar in New York City’s Flatiron District. We especially liked the citrusy but not too sweet Rye House Punch (made with chai-infused Rittenhouse Rye, Batavia Arrack, lemon, grapefruit and Angostura bitters, pictured) as well as the flaky pork belly and smoked Gouda-filled empanadas.

Here, a few rye-based cocktails to toast the author’s life and literary works:
Carra-Ryed Away
Manhattan
Silver Lining

Cocktails

Big Star in Chicago

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When I vacationed in Chicago last weekend, my first stop was star chef Paul Kahan’s latest bar and taqueria, Big Star. The large rectangular bar that dominates the space holds two of Big Star’s three specialties: some 50-odd bourbons and a couple dozen tequilas. The other specialty comes from the kitchen: tacos—hundreds of tacos.

Tapping along to a Loretta Lynn record, I elbowed my way to the bar to order a drink, from a list conceived by the team from the adjacent cocktail haven The Violet Hour. I started with a San Antonio Sling, a bracing combination of tequila, St-Germain and grapefruit. I followed that with the Hud, an Old Fashioned–like lowball heavy on the bourbon and light on the citrus—tangerine, in this case. Then I turned to food. First up was a fondue-like casserole of rajas chiles, house-made chorizo and cheese. A quartet of tacos followed: lamb, al pastor (marinated pork) and my two favorites, poblano with queso (cheese) and pork belly. The food was delicious, and with nothing exceeding five dollars, also a bargain.

When the weather gets warmer, Big Star will offer a huge alfresco dining area. As long as the music remains louder than the nearby El train, Big Star will be a party few will want to leave.

Cocktails

Cocktails for a Cause

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benefit

© Citymeals-on-Wheels
All-star food-and-cocktail pairings for a good cause.

 

In NYC, the Surrey Hotel’s awesome new Bar Pleiades is hosting a spectacular pairing event tomorrow (Wednesday, January 20). Here are three great reasons to stop by:

1)   Mixologist extraordinaire Cameron Bogue, formerly the bar genius at Daniel Boulud’s Vancouver outpost of DB Bistro Moderne, will be making excellent winter cocktails, including a warming brandy shaken with roasted butternut squash puree and Meyer lemon juice.
2)    Look for bar snacks from Café Boulud’s ultratalented chef Gavin Kaysen and guest chefs George Mendes of NYC’s Aldea, Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook of L.A.’s meat-centric Animal and Nate Appleman of the forthcoming Pulino's Bar and Pizzeria.
3)    Ticket proceeds benefit Citymeals-on-Wheels. Click here to eat and drink well, while contributing to a good cause.

Recipes

The (Drink) Situation on MTV’s Jersey Shore: Ron Ron Juice

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© John Kernick

Muscle-head Ronnie on MTV’s Jersey Shore is the last guy I’d expect to see drinking a girly cocktail, but surprisingly his pre-partying drink of choice is his eponymous “Ron Ron Juice,” a fuchsia-colored concoction of watermelon, cherries, cranberry juice and copious amounts of vodka blended with ice, which he always prepares bare-chested. “It gets the night going,” he says. “Whenever that stuff [sic] comes out it’s always a filthy night.”

Ah yes, “Ron Ron Juice” does often serve as useful fuel for one of Ronnie’s many bar fights.

“It’s the root of all evil,” says DJ Pauly D. Plus, there’s nothing like a little “Ron Ron Juice” to provide the energy to “beat up the beat” of house music at da club. “First, we start off by banging the ground, we’re banging it as the beat builds ‘cause that beat’s hittin’ us so we’re fightin’ back, it’s like we beat up that beat,” says DJ Pauly D.

Here, a more refined selection of fruity cocktails to get fists pumping:
Watermelon-Tequila Cocktails (pictured)
Watermelon Sangria
Watermelon Coolers

More from Food & Wine:

50 Best Bars in America

Best Burgers in the U.S.

Best Pizza Places in the U.S.

Best Fried Chicken in the U.S.

 

Bars

Preview: Painkiller from Dutch Kills team

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If you’re like me, and one tiki drink is never enough, here’s good news. The men behind the awesome Dutch Kills bar in Long Island City—Giuseppe Gonzalez and Richard Boccato—are opening a tiki bar in Manhattan. Called Painkiller, the bar is scheduled to open by early March. “We’re trading in Old-Fashioneds for Mai Tais,” says Gonzalez. Well, not exactly: Since the team is planning to blend 1970s New York culture and 1940s tiki culture, this may just be the best-ever tiki bar. Even the address is cool: It’s on Essex Street, in the old East Side Company Bar space.

But if, like me, you can't wait until early March for a Mai Tai, here's an outstanding version from F&W

Bars

Gin & Tonics for Jimmy Fallon

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Thanks to my excellent colleague Alessandra Bulow, we all now know that the big food news on Thursday nights is on MTV's Jersey Shore and whether Sammi "Sweetheart" will be excluded from Mike "The Situation"'s future ravioli and chicken cutlet nights. But this Thursday, January 7, we also have a cocktail situation to impatiently look forward to. Following the BCS National ChampionshipTexas vs AlabamaJim Meehan, the head mixologist of Manhattan's PDT and the outstanding deputy editor of F&W's Cocktails 2009, will appear on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. After lots of homework—i.e., researching key people's favorite drinks—he's decided he'll mix Tea-quila Highballs for the house band the Roots (they love Patrón tequila) and Plymouth gin & tonics for Fallon. He'll pour a g&t for himself, too, to toast what he hopes will be a big Crimson Tide win.

Menus

Food, Wine & Football

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bubbly

© Max's Wine Dive
Fried Chicken and Champagne at Max's Wine Dive.

 

It’s frigid here in New York City, and with the long holiday weekend ahead, I plan on holing up and cooking my favorite comfort foods, drinking some great wines and watching a lot of college football. I recently heard about a new wine bar in Texas that combines all three things. Max’s Wine Dive opened in May in downtown Austin with the philosophy of "Fried chicken and champagne? Why the hell not?!"

With its local team, the University of Texas Longhorns, playing for the national championship on January 7, the bar should be packed with fans eating not just fried chicken with Champagne but kobe burgers with Cabernet and oyster nachos with premier cru Burgundy.

Until I find my own NYC version of Max’s, I’ll be replicating their comfort-food-and-wine pairings with ideas from Food & Wine.

Wine Bars

NYC Escape from Shopping Madness

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Midtown Manhattan this time of year is one of the more frenetic places one can find oneself, but I've found an excellent escape hatch. Go to the I. M. Pei-designed Four Seasons Hotel on 57th Street, go through the revolving doors, up the stairs, to the right, and you'll find yourself at the hotel's new Garden Wine Bar. It's an oddly serene space—you know you're in a hotel, but because the wine bar is elevated above the main entrance, the main thing you perceive are the enormously high ceilings of the marble-pillared lobby and the leafy branches of the trees that decorate the bar; what you don't perceive is the bustle of people entering and leaving the hotel.

That would be nice but not worth a mention except that the Garden also has a terrific wine list, with almost all of the 200 selections available by the glass or by the bottle. A few examples: at the low end, a crisp 2007 Pra Soave Classico ($12 glass/$48 bottle); in the high-middle range, Slovenian cult producer Movia's fantastic 2003 Veliko Bianco ($25 glass/$97 bottle); and at the truly high end, a gorgeous 2006 J. M. Boillot Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Champ Canet ($40 glass/$150 bottle). Also, unfinished by-the-glass bottles are passed along to other venues in the hotel, which means that once something is opened, it's effectively guaranteed to be poured through within a day or so, an important consideration when you're talking about $40-a-glass wines. 

Admittedly, those prices aren't bargain basement, but this is the Four Seasons, hardly known for a bargain basement sensibility. Throw in impressive cheese and charcuterie offerings—including some terrific, spicy Nduja from Boccalone in San Francisco—as well as a good small plates menu, and you've got an ideal place to take a vinous break before heading out into the maelstrom of last-minute shopping again.

The Garden Wine Bar
Four Seasons Hotel
57 West 57th Street
New York, NY
212-758-5700

Cocktails

36 Hours in New Orleans: Part 1

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Domenica

© Domenica
The dining room at Domenica, John Besh's new restaurant in the Roosevelt Hotel.

 

I just made my first trip to New Orleans and after canvassing friends, chefs and cocktail experts plotted an epic eating and drinking itinerary. This is one city where classic spots rival—maybe even one-up—new places. Some highlights:

Saturday afternoon: Shrimp and oyster po’boys (dressed, of course) at Mahony’s, a new favorite of F&W Best New Chef 1999 John Besh.
 
Late afternoon: Historical cocktail crawl through the French Quarter with stops at Muriels, Old  Absinthe House, the bar at Antoine’s and Pat O’Briens (for the essential Hurricane).

Evening: Dinner at Domenica, John Besh’s stylish new Italian restaurant in the recently renovated Roosevelt Hotel. Besh protégé Alon Shaya oversees the kitchen and is a talent to watch. On the menu: crispy-thin, bubbly-crusted pizzas; a salad of thinly shaved tentacles of octopus carpaccio mixed with citrus and fennel; torn sheets of pasta (stracci) in a thick oxtail gravy with fried chicken livers; slow-roasted goat with chanterelles.
 
Post-dinner: Pre-night-out Sazerac at the Roosevelt’s legendary Sazerac Bar.

Late-night: The Cure is a much-buzzed-about cocktail spot uptown in a renovated 1905 firehouse. Co-owner and head mixologist Neal Bodenheimer opened the place in February and makes everything from the bitters to the cocktail cherries in-house. Bar Tonique lies on the outer edges of the French Quarter on Rampart Street. Bodenheimer also developed the cocktail list for this serious drink spot run by the crew of the Delachaise. It has a quieter vibe than The Cure, but equally excellent artisanal cocktails like the Champagne Cocktail, made with grapefruit bitters.

Super, super late-night: Mimi’s for live music, a night-ending pint of Abita Purple Haze and some tapas-style bar snacks including the "Trust Me”—that night, local braised lamb in gravy.

Bars

New cocktails at Má Pêche (a.k.a. Momofuku Midtown)

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Even for me, it was too early to start drinking cocktails at lunch yesterday at David Chang's Má Pêche, temporarily located in the lounge of the Chambers Hotel in midtown Manhattan (sometime this winter, it will move to a permanent home in the former Town space). I couldn't have had one, anyway: Don Lee doesn't start serving his ridiculously good cocktails until 5 p.m., when the hostess stand turns into a bar. On the just-now-official drinks menu, Lee has installed classics like Dark & Stormys, Manhattans and Negronis, as well as ingenious items like the Sesame Old-Fashioned, made with toasted-sesame-infused Cognac, and my new favorite, the sake-based 7 Spice Sour, flavored with togarashi, the Japanese seven-spice powder (lucky me, I got to preview it when Lee was testing it out at Ssäm Bar).

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.