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

Tending Bar: The Seven Year Itch

28/05/2012 § 2 Comments

While I may not be much of a cook, I do quite enjoy tending bar.  With an exceptionally warm Memorial Day Weekend (what thunderstorms?!?) and friends visiting from out of town, I took the opportunity to make my first pitcher cocktail of the season.  A bit bubbly, a bit tart, and completely refreshing, I’m calling this gin-based concoction of mine The Seven Year Itch.  To make it, you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cup of gin. I used Brooklyn Gin.
  • 1/2 cup elderflower liqueur.  I used St. Germain.
  • 1 cup club soda
  • 1 large handful of fresh raspberries
  • 1 handful of fresh mint, additional sprigs for garnish
  • 1 lime
  • 1 lemon
  • ice
  • large pitcher, wooden spoon or muddler, cocktail glasses

First, take all of the fresh ingredients and add them to your pitcher.
Take care to wash everything and slice up the lime and lemon.

Muddle, muddle, muddle.

Next, add a good amount of ice to the pitcher, and then pour the liquors and the club soda over the ice.  Serve immediately to avoid the club soda going flat and the ice melting.

Voila! Garnish with a raspberry and a mint sprig.

So, what’s with the name?

One of the most iconic Marilyn Monroe movies — yep, the white dress/subway grate one — The Seven Year Itch was directed and co-written by Billy Wilder and was released in 1955.  Featuring an exceptionally hot summer in New York (ahem), the story details the overactive imagination of publishing executive Richard Sherman (a role that Tom Ewell originated on Broadway), who has been left to his own devices in the city while his wife (yep, of seven years) heads off to Maine for the summer with their son.  Settling in for a long, hot few months, Mr. Sherman is surprised to find his upstairs neighbors have sublet their apartment for the summer to a model (Monroe).  Proper Wilder-esque hijinks then ensue. It’s a lovely little film and one of my very favorites.  And when I thought about what I wanted to call my cocktail, I immediately thought of Marilyn’s dress, crisp and fresh in the hot city night.  Perfectly fitting, no?


QC Prêt-à-Porter || Tangerine Dream

18/05/2012 § Leave a comment

A springy New York weekend calls for refreshing hues & sparkling cocktails:

Paul & Joe Sister chambray blazer
Equipment signature sleeveless washed-silk shirt
Mulberry braided belt
Levi’s Made & Crafted mid-rise skinny jean
Illesteva Leonard sunglasses
Sam Edelman Sophie mid-heel wedge
Mulberry Alexa bag
The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
Pimm’s Cup No. 1

This week has been something of a grind, with jury duty (ugh!) and rainy days.  However, with a whole lot of sunshine on the docket for the weekend, my spirits are already lifting — so this pretty shade of tangerine seems completely apropos.  I’m loving it paired with crisp white denim and leather that’s a rich golden tan.

Sherbet shades aside, did you notice I’m in a distinctly “mid” kind of mood (e.g., the mid-rise jean and the mid-heel wedge)?  Indeed, I’ve gradually come to favor a higher rise, initially for its somewhat retro feel, but primarily because of the realization that its actually much more flattering for my body type.  But don’t get me wrong, I definitely was a hipbone-baring, low rise-wearing, blue jean baby a few years ago when I lived in Los Angeles.  I’m not sure what has changed my inclinations.  Age, perhaps?  Locality?  Comfort?  Confidence?  Some combination of them all?  The New York Times recently wrote about the personal process of breaking up with your formerly beloved fashion brands (you can read it here), and I couldn’t help but also think about the evolution of my personal style in the same context.  My 23 year-old midriff was practically an accessory, while today, despite being practically unchanged, rarely sees the light of day.  Perhaps I’ll break it out this weekend.  Please don’t hold your breath.

This weekend I will brunch in honor of friends running the Brooklyn Half, attend a performance of the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet at the Joyce, and repeatedly check the mailbox for the arrival of my new Owens from Warby Parker.  My aspirational goals include starting The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles (I’ve something of an obsession with Northern Africa these days, more on that later) and making a Pimm’s Cup or two.  You can find a great Pimm’s Cup recipe here via NPR, as well as a short discussion of the very civilized and very British origins of the drink on All Things Considered.

Here’s to a grand weekend!
xoxo. M.

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Quite Continental Charm School: Day 21 — Drink More Gin

21/02/2012 § 9 Comments

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

Women in a New York City bar, 1941. Taken by Nina Leen for Life Magazine.

Editor’s Note: I’m very pleased to introduce our next guest speaker!  My good friend Marisa Zupan is a journalist, writer and the founder of the excellent men’s style blog The Significant Other, where she provides a thoughtful and studied female opinion on issues, brands and individuals important to the well-dressed man.  If your boyfriend/father/boss/anyone! is in need of a bit of a sartorial upgrade, please forward him to Marisa posthaste.

After I learned of our shared love of wearing beautiful neckties, I guessed we would get along famously, and I was right.  Marisa is one of the most grounded and supportive individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and I’m also quite pleased she chose to write about gin, one of my favorite libations.  If you are not yet familiar with Marisa, or The Significant Other, it is my pleasure to introduce you.

Without any further ado, Marisa’s tip for a charmed life.


Day 21: Drink More Gin
Let’s face it ladies, you’ve been drinking mostly vodka your whole life. In high school it was vodka and crystal light (everyone did that right?), college it was vodka and whatever the hell juice your roommate had in the fridge, and in your young adult life it’s been some vodka martinis with the occasional ironic whiskey on the rocks to switch things up. Through all of this, gin has really gotten the short end of the stick.  I’ll admit, in my younger less classy days, I thought gin tasted like licking the underside of a moss covered rock, but those days are over and this year will be the one when I educate my much more mature palate.

Like its flavor profile, Gin’s history is varied and complex. It was discovered by Italian monks, used as medicine during the bubonic plague and, because it was cheap and (too) readily available, gin became associated with people and places of disrepute in London. Despite its sordid past, gin made a come back in the British colonies and has since then been the spirit of choice in some of the classiest and most popular cocktails. In my efforts to become more gin-knowledgeable, I discovered Brooklyn Gin, a company based right in my backyard. The ingredients, fresh citrus and juniper berries, are bought at a market only a 10 minute walk from my apartment, and distilled 30 minutes out side of the city. Local and delicious, what more could a lady ask for? A cocktail recipe. Below is just that, I hope you enjoy, here’s to kicking the vodka habit and getting more sophisticated in 2012.

Olive Rosemary Martini (via Martha Stewart)


2 ounces gin
2 teaspoons dry vermouth
1 rosemary sprig
Pitted olives

To Make: 

Shake 2 ounces gin and 2 teaspoons dry vermouth with crushed ice; strain into a stemmed glass. Strip leaves from bottom 2 inches of a rosemary sprig, skewer through pitted olives, and add to the drink.

by Marisa Zupan, of The Significant Other.


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

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