One of my many new year’s resolutions includes learning to embrace the cocktail. The inspiration: 1) A late night at NYC bar PDT, where mixologist extraordinaire Jim Meehan carefully crafted me a Green Deacon only to have me take a few sips, hang my head and sheepishly ask for a beer; and 2) My miserable score on F&W's spirits quiz. Despite Food & Wine’s trendspotting cocktail coverage and NYC’s radical mixology scene I’ve been slow to find a true appreciation for perfectly made drinks, simply because I never order them.
But I took advantage of the busy end-of-year social scene, and made a concerted effort to expand my mixology knowledge. I’m already off to a pretty good start after trying a fabulous new cocktail at NYC's L’Artusi, my favorite West Village restaurant. I love listening to wine director/owner Joe Campanale tell compelling stories about the esoteric Italian wines he’s always pouring, but on recent visits I've found myself ordering the Jester, a delicious, slightly tart cocktail crafted by Campanale and assistant beverage director Aaron Sherman. The two young talents were experimenting with some of their favorite Italian spirits and came up with this riff on the Negroni Sbagliato. Sbagliato means "wrong" or "incorrect" because you use a sparkling white wine (Campanale is slightly obsessed with white lambrusco, which he uses here) instead of the usual gin. The L'Artsui tweak swaps out the standard campari with amari, a bitter Italian after-dinner drink. The result is my first love affair with a cocktail.
by Aaron Sherman and Joe Campanale
1oz. Ramazzotti Amaro
1oz. Carpano Antico vermouth
.5oz lemon juice
Lini Lambrusco Bianco or dry sparkling white wine
Add Ramazzotti, Carpano Antica Formula and lemon juice to a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir. Strain into chilled Champagne flute, top with Lambrusco Bianco and garnish with lemon peel.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten's reentry into the steak world, his J&G Steakhouse quietly opened in Phoenix's Phoenician Hotel last Monday. We’ve been given a peek of the sleek Rockwell Group
-designed interior by JGV’s right-hand man, Daniel Del Vecchio. J&G is no V
— promising early reviews
praise the low prices ($18 for prime hanger steak with frites!) and straight-forward, flavor-packed sauces.
We’re running three tenderloin recipes from Jean-Georges in our April 2009 Master Cook column, plus the J&G signature steak sauce. We’ve been testing them this week, and I have to say, they’re phenomenal. One has made me a late convert to beef cooked sous-vide. (Or, as I now prefer to think of it, slowly simmered in a Ziploc bag packed with flavorings. Somehow, that sounds more manageable—and more delicious—than the rather existential “under emptiness,” as the French can be literally translated.) Under JGV's careful instruction, the beef emerged tender, not spongy, as many sous-vide meats can. Recipes to come when the issue hits stands in early March; to tide you over, check out some of JGV's favorite steak condiments here
. Two more photos of J&G after the jump.
Recently, writer Jonathan Miles pondered that traditional holiday drink: mulled wine. It's fragrant, it's soothing and it’s the official beverage of Charles Dickens's “A Christmas Carol.” The only problem? No one actually craves it. "Mulled wine, like roast goose, is one of those holiday confections that often sounds better than it tastes," Miles writes. Fortunately, he offers some lust-worthy permutations, including a cold punch by former F&W staffer and current Tasting Table editor Nick Fauchald, made primarily with Zinfandel, Becherovka (a cinnamon-and-anise-flavored liqueur from the Czech Republic) and homemade spiced plum syrup.
Personally, I don't have anything against mulled wine. It's eggnog that I've never been able to get around. I've always found it too gloppy, like cloyingly sweet dead weight in the mouth. My modest proposal? Switch to coquito, a Latin take on eggnog with serious coconut flavor, rum and hints of cinnamon and vanilla. Now that's what I consider crave-worthy.