19/08/2011 § 4 Comments
One of my favorite drinks is the Aviation, a classic, pre-prohibition era, gin-based cocktail. I’d say it is a perfect summer cocktail, owing to its sky blue color and crisp tartness…but I enjoy the hell out of it the other three seasons of the year as well. To make the Aviation, you’ll need:
- 2 ounces gin
- 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 ounce of crème de violette
- 2 dashes of maraschino liqueur
Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake well and then strain into a cocktail glass. Some bartenders will garnish the drink with a twist or a cherry, but I prefer mine without.
The crème de violette, a violet flower based-liqueur, will be the ingredient hardest to find. It’s not exactly rare, but it did take me a few tries to find a shop in Manhattan that had it. Also, make sure you’re purchasing actual crème de violette. Rothman’s is the standard. There are other “violet” liqueurs, like Parfait d’Amour, but they have an entirely different taste. (Sidenote: There is some debate about the inclusion of Crème de Violette, as the recipe that appeared in the first edition of the Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) mistakenly omitted it, and decades of bartenders have poured the drink without it. I prefer mine pre-prohibition style.)
I use Brooklyn Gin for my Aviations, due to its smoothness and how its citrus notes compliment the liqueurs, but also because the gents behind the tiny distillery are personal friends. The handsome bottle also pretties up a bar quite nicely, no? Look for Brooklyn Gin at select bars and liquor stores around New York.
01/02/2011 § Leave a Comment
Mule cocktails are an old-fashioned name for a group of mixed drinks that are made with ginger beer, citrus juice and a variety of base liquors. Popularized during the first half of the twentieth century, these drinks are enjoying a bit of a renaissance at discerning bars — not least of all at my personal bar at home. As a result of my budding interest in nostalgic mixology, I thought I would impart recipes for two of my favorite Mules — the Gin Gin Mule and the Moscow Mule.
The Gin Gin Mule
- 0.5 oz simple syrup*
- 0.5 oz lime juice
- 6-8 fresh mint sprigs
- 1 oz Reed’s ginger beer
- 2 oz Hendrick’s gin
Gently muddle the mint, lime juice and simple syrup in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add the ginger beer and the gin, and shake well. Pour into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with an additional spring of mint. Top off with a bit of ginger beer, or soda water, if desired. I don’t. I definitely don’t need mixers getting in the way of my love affair with gin…
*It’s simple to make simple syrup. The recipe is equal parts water to sugar. Bring the water to a boil, add the sugar and allow it to dissolve. Remove it from the heat and let it to cool. Once cooled, I put mine in a Ball jar and keep it in the fridge. (You may have noticed from the picture my kitchen has quite a few Ball jars — they are so handy and affordable. I pick mine up from Fishs Eddy, near Union Square.)
The Moscow Mule
- 1.75 oz Belvedere vodka
- 0.5 oz lime juice
- Reed’s ginger beer
Pour vodka and lime juice into an ice-filled glass, top off with ginger beer and garnish with a lime wedge.
Purists will demand you serve the Moscow Mule in a copper cup, owing to the origins of the cocktail. Created in Los Angeles at the Cock n’ Bull Tavern on Sunset Boulevard in the 1940s, the Moscow Mule was originally served in a specific copper cup, and I have been earnestly stalking eBay in the hopes of adding one (or two or three or four…) of these cups to my bar. (Sidenote: If there are any eBay warriors out there with helpful hints, pass them my way!)
Mule cocktails can be made with other liquors, but these two are my favorite. Let me know how you enjoy them!
24/01/2011 § Leave a Comment
During my travels through the internet, I came across Valet’s Handbook and was very impressed. For the entire month of January, men’s lifestyle site Valet posts a helpful tip each day to help their readers whip their lives into shape. The tips span all topics — fashion, hygiene, relationships, ettiquette, etc. — and while some I have actually found helpful for myself (namely, how to remove the salt from my shoes and how to beat jet lag), I felt compelled to compile my own list with a decidedly different angle.
For the month of February, I shall do something similar. Guiding this exercise are the wise words of Coco Chanel: “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” For each of the 28 days, I will bring you ways to generate more class and fabulousness in daily life — tips, tricks, rules, guidelines, etc. I’ve got a few days yet to prepare, but would love to hear any thoughts you might have.
What should a girl do in order to be classy and fabulous?
19/01/2011 § 2 Comments
Unless you live in Iran, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Surely, cynics will always deride the holiday as manufactured, but who doesn’t remember the fun there is to be had giving and receiving Valentines? And now that we’ve all outgrown the ready-made perforated set of two dozen cards, what should we be giving our sweethearts? What is the classy thing to do?
Clearly, the bespoke Valentine is the way to go, as it definitely will impress your sweetheart more than would a silly nonsense card you picked up at the bodega on your lunch hour on February 14. You know who you are. As a staunch proponent of the handmade Valentine, no matter how simple, I’ve pulled a few ideas to get you started.
Paper Source – Blossom Chocolate Keepsake Accordion Kit
For the craftier ones among us, the Paper Source offers a wonderful little kit with practically all you need to create an accordion book — just add personal touches like photos or written messages. While the kit is relatively easy to assemble, it is time consuming. This is not something you will be able to bang out in 15 minutes. But therein lies the charm. Scoop it here.
Paper Source – Paper Hearts Accordion Kit
Like the accordion idea, but you’re scared of glue sticks? You can also purchase already cut accordion hearts in a variety of colors to write your sweet nothings on. Scoop them here.
Severely uncreative? Overbusy? Horrendous penmanship? Not to worry, I have a few professionals who can help.
Handmade Papercut Valentines by mrYen
I have a special love for papercut and silhouette art, and British artist mrYen offers a small collection at his etsy boutique that I just adore. For Valentine’s Day, he’s created a few special pieces worth noting. Each are entirely hand-cut with a scalpel, meaning no two are exactly alike — special and original, just like your Valentine!
Also lovely is his “I Love You.” Scoop them both here.
Bicycle Couples by Paper Cuts By Joe
While mrYen creates lovely pieces, my true favorite in this genre is Joe Bagley, a gifted papercutter from Boston who I first came across via an event at one of my favorite Boston antique/curiosity/decor stores, Acquire. His silhouette work is simply amazing. I can’t even guess how he is able to bring forth the images he creates from a simple sheet of black paper with only a scalpel! For Valentine’s Day, he’s created two images of a couple that would look simply gorgeous framed against a simple white background.
Scoop them here – and spend some time in his shop. He is amazing!
Graphic Art Valentines by thelittlecanoe
A whimsical illustrator from Portland, thelittlecanoe produces wonderfully layered, original art. Her work is simple and complex at once, and looking at it feels as if we have a secret porthole into her dreams. She’s got a small batch of Valentines that I adore.
Scoop them here – and be sure to check out the rest of her artwork. I especially love the sailor illustrations and the narwhals.
If you want to go a bit bigger in scale, be sure to peruse UK typography shop More Than Words. Offering both bespoke orders and a lovely portfolio of ready-made prints, this smart little shop is a great place to find or create something with design and literary appeal.
Bespoke prints can be personalized with names, dates, anything…
…even the location of your first kiss.