Quite Continental Charm School: Day 3 – Class Up Your Barware

03/02/2013 § Leave a comment

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

QC Charm School: Class Up Your BarFrank Sinatra enjoying a cocktail.  Photo by John Dominis, via Life.

Day 3: Class Up Your Barware
There is a lot of lip service paid to the art of stocking one’s personal bar — in fact, we talked about it a few years ago.  And while I normally would be happy to debate for hours the virtue and quality of one spirit versus another, for today’s tip I would like to slightly shift the focus from perfecting the menu, to the tools of the trade of an at-home bartender.  While I’m not suggesting you must run out and purchase etched crystal tumblers like the ones the fellas are holding above, classing up your bar with proper glassware and tools is definitely charming — it implies a certain amount of respect for the cocktail ritual.

Since moving to New York a few years ago, I have come to pay more attention to the art of making cocktails and have kitted out my own bar with a number of essentials that I have distilled down to a few key purchases, shown below — all so that you won’t have to muddle your mojito with a soup ladle or serve everyone’s martinis in mismatched promotional pint glasses you furtively collected from your favorite pub in college.  For my glassware and bar tools I frequently turn to Fishs Eddy in the city, for their quality and affordability (and great sense of humor).  Luckily they have an online shop as well.

QC Charm School: Class Up Your Barware

All purpose wine citation ($2.95)

Champagne coupe ($3.95)

Tall high ball ($2.25)

Sommelier’s corkscrew ($5.95)

Bar spoon ($3.95)

OXO peeler ($12.99)

Stainless steel muddler ($10.95)

Stainless steel double jigger ($2.95)

Rocks glass ($2.95)

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

QC Recommends || Silver Lining {and the Brown Derby cocktail}

03/04/2012 § Leave a comment

Just a quick note to recommend Tribeca cocktail and jazz bar Silver Lining.  Located in the basement of the gorgeous Bogardus Mansion, which was built in 1850 and named for its builder James Bogardus, the originator of cast-iron architecture, Silver Lining offers serious cocktails and a menu of small plates that are so good they could stand on their own, alongside nightly live jazz music, served up in a speakeasy atmosphere.  This somewhat still-hidden gem — bustling, roomy, but never ridiculously crowded — is the product of the Joseph Schwartz/Sasha Petraske partnership (Little Branch), was recently named the best cocktail bar of 2012 by New York Magazine and is on the shortlist to become my new local. 

Personally, I’m quite partial to their Brown Derby cocktail, probably at least partially due to its Los Angeles roots (like me).  The cocktail takes its name from The Brown Derby, an iconic chain of Los Angeles eateries, founded in the 1920s.  Their most recognizable location, on Wilshire Boulevard, was actually hat-shaped (it’s since been demolished, today its dome sits atop a mini-mall in Korea Town — so sad!), while their more storied location in Hollywood was where the entertainment set went to see and be seen, with their illustrated portraits lining the walls in the dining room.

Can’t make it to Silver Lining to order your own Brown Derby? Try it at home:

1 ounce bourbon
1 ounce grapefruit juice
½ ounce clover-honey syrup (1 part water, 1 part clover honey)

In tin-on-tin shaker, add freshly squeezed grapefruit, then honey and bourbon; shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass (ideally, a 5 ½-ounce Champagne coupe).

Recipe via the Los Angeles Times, where you can watch a video of it being made by bartender Marcos Tello.

Silver Lining
75 Murray Street, Tribeca || 212.513.1234
Closed Sundays

QC Recommends: Orient Express

29/07/2011 § 2 Comments

On a bit of a lark, I found myself at Orient Express last night.  Have you been?  It was my first time and as someone who enjoys her cocktails with a bit of class and nostalgia, I found myself right at home.  Open for almost a year in the West Village, this teeny tiny bar gives you the distinct impression that you’ve somehow slipped down a rabbit hole to a bar car on the famed Orient Express, complete with ceiling-high luggage racks and a curved ceiling, as you might be able to see from my picture above.

The drinks are what you would expect from a high-end, old school mixologist: lots of interesting concoctions with a knowledgeable bar staff ready to make a recommendation based on your inclinations.  I had the Agatha II: gin, lemon juice, homemade raspberry soda water — perfect for a warm summer evening.  The ambiance was bustling, but not overloud for a Thursday, perfect for a small gathering of friends or a lively date.  As I sipped my cocktail listening to Chet Baker, I knew that this was a place I had to share with you.

To get into the mood, revisit the photos I posted
ages ago of this mighty train line in 1950.

Orient Express
325 West 11th Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 691-8845

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