In this series, the food writer, wine lover and cookbook obsessive Kristin Donnelly test-drives the most fun and inspiring new books that come across her desk. This week, Winter Cocktails, by Maria del Mar Sacasa.
Love to drink out of a ceramic skull? These top tiki bars are right up your tropical alley.
From speakeasies like New York's PDT to Sasha Petraske's The Varnish in L.A., here are the best bars for obsession-worthy cocktails.
For Bluestem's Megan Garrelts, there's no better winter cocktail than a hot mug of mulled cider.
While any drinker would love a full bottle of whiskey for Christmas, true cocktail enthusiasts will be much more impressed by an empty one—as long as its one of Jim Beam’s vintage decanters. I confess, I didn’t know about these incredible bottles before I stumbled upon an incredible jackelope decanter after falling into an eBay black hole. But now that I know of them, I’m obsessed. Introduced in 1955, these collectibles come in a wild range of shapes like Volkswagen Beetles, antique phones—there’s even a train set decanter. Obviously, I am not the first to be enthralled by these ceramic wonders. There are lots of decanters up for auction on eBay (some sell for under $20 while others start at $500) and there’s even a club for the decanter-obsessed called the International Jim Beam Bottle & Specialty Club. They’re the greatest gift I know for the whiskey lover who doesn’t need any more whiskey, but could do with a really cool bottle.
Like Arsenio Hall, ice bars are another '90s phenomenon making a comeback. Read more >
A few months ago when I was in London, I fell in love with a bar. Duck & Waffle is set on the 40th floor of an office building; the city views are astonishing. Even better from my point of view: The place is open 24/7. I wasn’t the only one to appreciate this opportunity to eat and drink at all hours of the day and night—star chefs Danny Bowien and Heston Blumenthal have logged time there too. Read more >
For a woman whose apartment has essentially been transformed into the best bar in Brooklyn, it’s a true miracle that Talia Baiocchi is able to get anything done at all. But the fact is, she’s found a way to be super-productive despite all the bottles of sherry that surround her and the daily 3 o’clock beer she has while writing. Baiocchi, the former wine editor for Eater and a writer for numerous publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, is in the midst of writing a book all about sherry (called Sherry, in fact, and scheduled to be published next fall by Ten Speed Press). And today she launched Punch, a website devoted to exploring the world of cocktails, spirits and wine, through the eyes of talented writers, photographers, videographers and bartenders. Here, the plan for Punch. Read more >
Just as bartenders have evolved to become more knowledgeable and engaged with their craft, so too have bar patrons. But not every bar—nor every barkeep—can keep up. Pay attention and you might spot a few surefire signs: If your bartender mixes a classic daiquiri with bottled sour mix, or shakes a Manhattan (a drink that should invariably be stirred) it’s an indication you ought to stick to the basics. We talked to a few cocktail industry vets to suss out other harbingers of doom behind the bar. Read more >
The perfect nightcap is different for everyone. For some it’s a stomach-settling shot of Fernet Branca, for others it’s a perfectly crafted Manhattan and for many it’s whatever is left in the bottle.
This past Tuesday night at the inaugural Sip a Nightcap competition presented by Santa Teresa, four judges including Leo Robitschek, of Eleven Madison Park and The NoMad, and “King Cocktail” Dale DeGroff judged the ultimate nightcap to be Jessica Gonzalez’s Fortune Teller cocktail: a simple but powerful mix of Santa Teresa 1796 rum, Cynar (an artichoke-based Italian liqueur) and Bonal (a bitter French aperitif wine). It is exactly what Robitschek looks for in a nightcap: Four ingredients or less. Strong and stirred. “Something that makes you want another sip but also doesn’t make you want to drink it too quickly.”
While Gonzalez’s drink falls in line with the modern cocktail trend of brown and boozy, nightcaps weren’t always like that. Here, cocktail historian DeGroff shares four examples of some historic nightcaps that probably wouldn't have stood a chance in the competition.
Coffee Cocktail “It was half Cognac, half port, an egg and a teaspoon of sugar, shaken very hard. There was no coffee in it. They called it the coffee cocktail because it looked like coffee with cream and sugar. That was a nightcap from the turn of the century from the 19th to the 20th—when everything was richer and sweeter.”
Stinger “Half Cognac, half white crème de menthe, shaken very hard, served over crushed ice. In the ’70s and ’60s we were eating these rich French foods, so when you got to the end of a meal of wine and multicourses and cheese and creamy this and saucy that, you had this minty, icy cold Cognac–crème de menthe drink. It was kind of an adult after-dinner mint.”
Frappés “In the ’60s you had women—mostly—who after dinner would order frappéed liqueurs like green crème de menthe and white crème de cacao. It was a crème over crushed ice.”
Brandy Alexander “Around the same time as the frappés, the last thing you had at night if you were a kid out with a phony ID was a Brandy Alexander: Cognac, white crème de cacao and heavy cream, shaken.”