Chances are you live a stone’s throw away from a Thai restaurant in your neighborhood, and you’ve got a go-to local favorite for pad thai. These days I often find myself traveling north of Berkeley, where there’s quite a few wonderful Thai eateries clustered in Albany, El Cerrito and San Pablo locales.
What makes a better gift than DIY cocktail supplies? This kind of gift is cute, unique, and way more useful than another pair of hand-knit socks. Best of all, it’s surprisingly easy to make the components of one of my favorite cocktails, the Manhattan. Well, all of the components except for the rye whiskey. That one, I’ll leave to the experts.
The martini has been called “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.” But is this cocktail perfectly American? Maybe not entirely. In honor of National Martini Day, we decided to dig into the drink’s muddled past.
Called “Liquid Pie,” this cocktail is a combination of bourbon, berries and beer. The bourbon provides subtle flavors of vanilla and caramel while the Pilsner adds some crust-like notes to the mix. And of course, the fresh berries bring it all home. You’ll swear it tastes like pie!
A culinary staple of Sonoma County is Sondra Bernstein’s the girl & the fig, which is why it was my pleasure to spend the day farming, cooking and eating with the self-proclaimed “fig girl” herself. This lovely and fresh Lavender Mojito is just one of the many cocktails we made using biodynamically farmed ingredients from their plot at Imagery Estate Winery, located in Glen Ellen.
Located in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley is one of my favorite California wineries, Medlock Ames. They make some of the best wines you’ll ever taste. But what makes them really special is their commitment to quality and sustainability which extends beyond the production of great wine. This Lavender Splash Cocktail is just one example of that commitment. It’s made with lavender organically grown at the Medlock Ames Tasting Room.
The whole notion of kiddie cocktails centers around their ability to allow children to participate somewhat benignly in adult cocktail culture– preparing them in a sense for their futures as alcohol-swigging grown-ups to whom they look up, both physically and morally.
Maybe they’re not so benign, after all.
The idea of the Shirley Temple Black is entirely upside down. It is a drink that allows me to mix and mingle with the wee ‘uns from time to time without having them point at my Manhattan and ask what’s in it. With an innocent-looking, yet boozy Shirley Temple Black, I can gently tone down those shrieks of bouncy castle delight, or steel myself for the twenty-seventh consecutive screening of Thomas the Tank Engine more or less unnoticed.
At the next children’s party I am obliged to attend, when the host or hostess asks me what I’m having, you know my answer’s going to be:
“I’ll have a Shirley Temple, and make it Black.”
It was Maggie Smith. Maggie Smith and her cocktail parties. I don’t think my father had any idea what he was getting me into when he took me to see that picture.
At gala events you expect to see top chefs preparing bite-sized nibbles for guests. But at StarChefs events working chefs are not just preparing the food, they are the ones being celebrated. StarChefs is all about the chefs of today, and the rising star events are a great way to get a taste of the future.
There has always been a special place in my heart for the Negroni. Not always. I stayed away from them in elementary school, naturally. I don’t think I even tried my first until well into my twenties. And I’m not quite certain I liked it then.
But I liked the idea of the Negroni. It was and is a sophisticated, world-weary drink– one with Italian origins and bitter complexity, yet remarkably, charmingly straight forward. It is not a drink that should be knocked back like whiskey, nor can it be co-opted or diluted with other ingredients and still be called by its proper name. It is the sum of its equal, co-dependent parts: gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. It must be savored and considered.