Archive for the 'On the Sauce' Category



The Twelve Drinks of Winter No. 7: Mimosa vs. Buck’s Fizz

It’s a dull gray and thoroughly depressing afternoon in New York City, and just looking at this photo, which I snapped before breakfast on Christmas morning, cheers me up. I’m not suggesting that one should attempt to banish depression with booze, but a little booze, a little vitamin C, and maybe a little Blossom Dearie might be worth looking into. Continue reading …

The Twelve Drinks of Winter No. 6: Kir Royale

The Kir Royale might be the most romantic drink ever (she writes after drinking one). There are few things more joyous than champagne, and champagne tinged garnet with blackcurrant liquer has la vie en rose written all over it. It’s named after the once-mayor of Dijon, but don’t worry about it. Pour 1 part crème de cassis into a flute, top up gently with 5 parts champagne, fall in love.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Twelve Drinks of Winter No. 5: Hot Chocolate

There are lots of great places to sip a cup of posh hot chocolate in New York City, such as the sleek Chocolate Bar, the jewel-box-like Mariebelle, or one of Jacques Torres’ wonderlands, to name just a few. But to this chocolatarian, City Bakery and its velvety elixir reign supreme.

This year City Bakery celebrates its 17th annual hot chocolate festival for the entire month of February, and features more than twenty flavors in rotation. A few–like vanilla bean (2/10), cinnamon (2/25), and malted milk (2/26)–easily sound like hot chocolate marriages made in heaven, and they are. But my favorites tend to be owner/genius Maury Rubin’s quirkier, more adventurous concoctions. On opening night, I sampled a cup of ginger (very good) and drank much of my companion’s banana peel (brilliant) while he wasn’t looking. And I’ll be returning for a few flavors I’ve never tried before: passion fruit cream (2/11), Arabian Nights (I don’t know what it means, but I hope it’s spicy; 2/12), and bourbon (2/27). Bourbon + chocolate = Thank you, Mr. Rubin.

Check out the full calendar of flavors.

If you can’t get to the festival, you can always make your own.

Update (2/14): City Bakery has changed its calendar of flavors a bit since I wrote this post. Rascals. I swear I didn’t make up the passion fruit cream.

The Twelve Drinks of Christmas Winter No. 4: Hot Buttered Rum


I learned about hot buttered rum from watching the film White Christmas as a small child. In one scene, Bing Crosby waxes poetic on the joys of a winter in Vermont, listing “hot buttered rum, light on the butter” as one of them. I was certain even then that when I was old enough to drink one, my rum would be thickly buttered. The following may be as light or as heavy on the butter as you wish. Continue reading …

The Twelve Drinks of Christmas Winter No. 3: Egg Nog

The quintessential Christmas tipple, egg nog is worth a second mention. For the recipe, see Egg Nog For the Neurotic from December ‘06.

The Twelve Drinks of Christmas Winter No. 2: Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule is a zingy combination of vodka, lime, and ginger beer (gingerale’s spicier, sassier big sister who, like a mule, knows how to kick). It was born in 1941 when three friends–Jack Morgan, a ginger beer producer, John G. Martin, a liquor distributor, and Rudolph Kunett, president of the vodka division of Martin’s company–put their heads together in the bar of New York’s Chatham Hotel. Though it wasn’t conceived as a seasonal drink, I think it’s a nice choice for warm-weather Christmases and the occasionally sultry December day–like the one just passed–here in New York.
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The Twelve Drinks of Christmas Winter No. 1: Frosty Morning Drink

The Frosty Morning Drink is for making with one eye open and taking back to bed with you on a winter morning when coffee isn’t appropriate because you have every intention of falling back to sleep.
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Vashe Zdorovie: A Vodka Tasting

Within a few days of discovering Anya von Bremzen and John Welchmans’s Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook, I found myself in the Russian Tea Room, a velvet-lined jewel box of a restaurant, putting some of my new knowledge to use over a flight of three vodkas. I didn’t exactly bandy the Russian phrases about, but that was probably for the best. These things take practice.

So let’s practice. Here is a paraphrased version of Bremzen and Welchman’s guide to drinking a shot of vodka the proper Russian way. Continue reading …

Never Too Cool for Yule

Every year about this time I start thinking about Christmas. It must be a psychological cooling device, because I stop thinking about it the moment the heat breaks. When I was at school and had summers off, this preoccupation took the form of various projects: one summer I latch-hooked a rug with Santa Claus heads on it (yikes!), another I spent festooning a foot-high Christmas tree with tiny ornaments (one of my better efforts), and another I devoted to the production of worry-doll ornaments vaguely resembling characters from history and fiction (only I could identify them).
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A Thousand Golden Highlights

On to the south of France and the beautiful Canal du Midi, where my aunt, cousin, and I have spent six blissful days on the barge Tango. Much more about the Tango and her marvelous crew to come–including recipes!

We embarked in Marseillan on the Étang de Thau, a large salt-water lake rich with sea bream and oyster beds and a habitat for pink flamingos. The town of Marseillan is home to the cellars of Noilly Prat vermouth, which I was thrilled to visit; I’m a big fan of vermouth as an aperitif, especially Noilly Prat, and wish it got a little more love here in the States.
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