Posts Tagged ‘drinks’

America and the Americans: Pineapple Mai Tai

Pineapple Mai Tais (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Everyone I’ve told about the cruise I went on in early January has asked me if I’ve read David Foster Wallace’s essay on cruising1. Yes, I have. And no, I don’t think there’s a cruise in the world that DFW would have enjoyed. It’s a tacky business, but in the best possible way. It’s like going to Oktoberfest in a dirndl and braids: You have to give yourself over to it. To the glitter and feathers at the evening show, the white pants and silk shirts, the poolside piña coladas, overpriced bingo games, the awkward audience involvement. You have to love it. And in return, it will love you back.

Meyer's Dark Rum and Añejo rum (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Mai Tai with lime (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

One of my favorite games has always been to pretend I’m someone else, to slip into another voice, another life. In fact, I was a theater kid long before I hit the stage. My grandma used to tell me how I’d stand in front of the mirror and practice crying, just so I’d be ready when real waterworks came in handy.

On a cruise, I get to pretend my life is always cocktails in the evening sun, that I’m in the habit of wearing cute skirts and high heels and bright red lipstick to dinner, that I keep my nails manicured and enjoy small-talk with strangers. I go to the sauna and to the gym and carry around a sparkling gold clutch as if I had anything more to keep track of than my little blue sea pass. There’s no internet to remind me of my responsibilities – or of my real life. All I can do is immerse myself in this alternate world. Yes, DFW, it’s a show. But if I’m already in it, I may as well live it up.

The ocean at Cozumel (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Pineapple Mai Tai Recipe (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I spent a lot of time observing other people on the cruise, seeing small kindnesses in the buffet line and considerate gestures – and also moments of casual disregard for the crew’s constant service and hard work. » Continue reading this post…

Vintage Summer: Rosemary & Pistachio El Diablo

Rosemary & pistachio cocktail (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

“It felt very Mad Men,” I told my friend, “to come home from work and make myself a fancy cocktail, then sip it by the open French window with my feet propped up and a book in hand.

“I didn’t know you were watching Mad Men. How far along in the season are you?” he asked.

“Oh, I’ve seen the pilot,” I replied.

He raised an eyebrow, and I amended my comparison. “Fine. It was like an evening of living in Revolutionary Road, where everybody’s always swilling something and living out a sadly-thwarted version of the American dream. But like, in a good way.”

Rosemary and limes (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Boston shaker full of ice (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Rosemary, pistachio syrup, tequila (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

For me, cocktails have always had a vintage charm. When I drink them, I want to be wearing pale lemon-colored nylon and chiffon, with a plate of shimmery canapés and pimiento-flecked olives close at hand.

But like most strange daydreams painted from a retro Hoover ad, this life is probably so fascinating to me because I don’t have to live it. I finished Revolutionary Road. I know how that story ends.

Bright greens: pistachio syrup, rosemary, lime (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Today, cocktail culture feels less about rubbing out the perfect pastel hues of a paperboard fairy tale (i.e., getting wasted), and more about experimenting with a rainbow of syrups, juices, herbs, bitters, and household shrubbery until each liquor’s notes have been expertly complemented (i.e., getting wasted).

Just kidding. While there are those cocktails whose sole purpose is to be drunk copiously at a beachside party out of plastic cups (I’m looking at you, Sex on the Beach), there are many others to make one feel just appropriately naughty enough.

Rosemary (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

El Diablo with pistachio and rosemary (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

A few months ago, David and I did a cocktail making course hosted by a charming, almost Dickensian barkeep with a little ponytail and a tightly-fitted vest. In thick Berlinerisch, he walked us through muddling, measuring, and not spraying the contents of a Boston shaker over the entire room as we worked our way through five simple cocktails: Mai Thai, New York Sour, Moscow Mule, Park Lane, and a drink he’d named “El Pistacho,” a take on the El Diablo. » Continue reading this post…

Queens and Virgins: Caraway-Flax Crackers & Moscow Mules

Moscow mules (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

If I were to write a composite film based on the trending topics in this year’s Berlinale, it would be about a virgin queen who wears too little clothing in the snow, gets pregnant, murders a homeless man, and all of the characters would be played by James Franco.

I’m living in movie purgatory. We (being our four-person office and a plus one) average around four films a day, which is moderate compared to some of the true punishers who squash in up to seven, starting with a 9:30 breakfast pic. I’ve seen 22 films so far, from the truly baffling (Dyke Hard) to the surprisingly fantastic (How to Win at Checkers, Virgin Mountain) to the very, very nude (Out of Nature).

Ellen slices cucumbers (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

German shot glasses (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Ice cubes in the glass (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

It sounds fun, like having a sick day without being sick. But it’s exhausting, running around Berlin from theater to theater, waking up at 5:30 every morning to wait in the ticket line, gobbling a fast McDonald’s Egg McMuffin before pushing through a mass of people at the theater to snag a seat at least a few rows back from the front. Why do we put ourselves through this drama for ten whole days, when let’s be honest, we were just in it to see the world premiere of Fifty Shades of Grey?

Cucumber slices (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Cucumber garnish (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Squeezing lime juice (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Cutting limes for Moscow Mules (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Because, as I can attest from having been-there-done-that at the Berlinale last year, it’s incredibly satisfying to have seen the films people will be talking about next year long before they’re famous. It may be emotionally and physically exhausting, but it’s also magical, overloading on all these movies. It gives you the chance to compare totally different stories and storytelling styles and helps you pinpoint just what makes a movie great. It’s a chance to see movies you never would otherwise. True, sometimes you’re stuck with “I’m too smart for my own good” nonsense, but sometimes you discover a true gem from a young director deserving of more exposure. » Continue reading this post…

The Cure-All: Bourbon Hot Toddy

Bourbon (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

This post is going to turn out to be quite different than the one I was expecting to write. That’s because a friend stopped by this afternoon, and while I fed him toddy, he fed me stories of New York.

Lemons (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

We’d spent some time discussing the city before he left Berlin for a furlough there. It couldn’t have been so long ago, just under a year, perhaps, when we were chatting in a wintry Berlin about New York, the city of my dreams, so vibrant and gritty and full of life. I recalled, with vivid detail, my morning walk down Starr St., the gum-pocked sidewalk, the stooped apartments and fenced-in trash yards of Bushwick, the cluster of cat-calling mechanics, the descent down the subway stairs. I could still taste warm sesame bagels piled up with cream cheese, paired with a cup of coffee. Or freshly pressed tortillas, loaded with marinated grilled meats, hot sauces and lime, all washed down with sugary-sweet Jarritos in the dim neon of the tortilleria. I remembered the panicked press of Broadway giving way to secret side streets in NoLita, my Brooklyn grocery stores, bins piled high with packages of baccalau.

ginger (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Bourbon for the cold (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Yet that New York is no longer mine, and when I think about the city now, I see it in postcard stills, cool, matte hues like snapshots from someone else’s life.

It’s a homeless sort of feeling, not to feel New York in my bones anymore. » Continue reading this post…

Tooooooooooooor!: The World Cup Cocktail

Lemon and melon cocktail (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Since the day I saw Robben superman dive a head ball into the net, I’ve been enamored with the World Cup.

No really, I promise it’s not the finely muscled men running around and showing off those fine muscles in skin-tight shirts. Or the slow motion shots of grimacing coaches flailing on the sidelines like birds stuck in pudding. Or even the drama – bites and broken backs, sneaky fouls and field-side shoves.

Ok, I lied. It’s all of that – but it’s also the beauty of the game.

Sliced lemons (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Sugar in a shot glass (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I didn’t grow up in a very sports-minded household. I neither understand, nor care about, most major sports. My family never hosted a Superbowl party, I never bothered about which team won, and the only reason I went to high school football games was because I was in the band. The closest I ever came to really caring was back at Davidson, when Stephen Curry led the team to the Elite Eight. Those games were fun to watch – cheering for people you knew with people you knew, while people you didn’t know across the country were cheering for them too. I still remember sitting in the dining hall, crammed shoulder to shoulder, trays of food clutched in our laps, sighing as one body to the big screen rolled down to project that final game.

Then I graduated, and poof, that was the last time I cared about sports.

So it’s surprised me how much I’ve loved watching these games, how passionately I care about my team (the Netherlands, of course. Hi, Robben.), how closely I follow their footwork and appreciate a good passing play. Granted, I still can’t comprehend off-sides, can’t remember for the life of me how many points each team has, or figure out when they call a corner kick, a penalty, or you know, that other one. » Continue reading this post…

Smells Like Fall: Uncle Richard’s Apple Cider

Apples (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

It is one of my last evenings living in Neukölln, and I’m feeling prematurely nostalgic about the scratch of car wheels roughing up rain outside my ground floor window, the headlights shining in through the curtains, the soft glow of lights in my little room, and the way it’s always cold no matter how much you wear. For that reason, and because hot drinks are so well suited to nostalgia, I’ve warmed myself up a cup of homemade apple cider and am sitting here at my desk researching moving truck prices and trying to figure out what Kbpi/s means.

I made my first batch of  homemade apple cider last week, listening to soft music and letting the warm smell of cinnamon waft through the apartment. A few weeks before that, my uncle had sent around an email with his recipe for apple cider.

My uncle, who lives in West Virginia, is an avid and experimental cook, reconstructing his favorite dishes by taking them apart and building them back up again. I store the recipes in an email folder, saving them for a rainy day or an alignment of the proper stars. I have yet to try the French onion soup, Moroccan-style boneless pork ribs, and Pho broth, but this fall in Berlin has been gracious, and that’s enough stars to spend a day with a pot of cider simmering on the stove. » Continue reading this post…

Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful: Dark & Stormy Cocktails

Dark & Stormy (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Please forgive me if I’ve already started humming Christmas carols… I get the feeling that in Berlin, the weather goes from summer to winter without even a nod to my favorite season. This is not a city that does chunky sweaters and burnt sienna trees. It’s a city that does all leaves/no leaves. Tank top/parka.

And you wonder why this isn’t a country that has apple or pumpkin pie. They don’t even have a season for it. What do you expect?

Not so long ago I was in Bermuda. Now there’s another night/day contrast we can talk about. A brilliant, beating sun, pink sand, water so blue it seemed unreal. A perpetual sunburn on my skin, cold drinks on the deck of a ship. Somebody please remind me why I left.

Beach in Bermuda (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

While you can’t always take the island sunshine with you, there are some tokens of the beach that fit in a small bag. Gosling Black Seal Rum and ginger beer for one.

Dark & Stormies are simple, highball cocktails made with ginger beer and Gosling’s rum. And apparently yes, to make real Dark & Stormies you do need Gosling’s, as the drink is trademarked by the company, whose base is in Bermuda. It stands to reason then, that along with the Rum Swizzle, the Dark & Stormy is Bermuda’s national drink.

A Dark & Stormy is a beautiful drink. Sparkling, golden ginger beer topped with a jigger of rum that floats above the soda like a storm cloud. » Continue reading this post…

Sugar in a Burnt Pan: Tangerine-Rosemary Cocktails

Hot nectarines (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

“Look at these cocktails,” I say to my brother and hold up the magazine. The picture is pool-blue with a bright orange cocktail smack in the center.

“I’m driving,” he says, so at a red light, I hold it up again to show him the grilled flatbread on the other side of the double page spread.

“This is what I want my life to be like,” I say, and he says, “You just showed me that page,” and I say, “I thought you were driving.”

A few days later, his girlfriend comes to visit, and we decide to make the drinks. My brother has been learning to tend and carts his bar guide and herb books around from place to place. Of course, he’s left his brand new bar set at the other house, and we’re not sure what to use for a muddler other than a pestle, the top half of which has disappeared somewhere, the broken-off bottom still drooped in the mortar like a fat, marble bulb.

The recipe calls for tangerine halves to be dipped in raw sugar and grilled over fresh sprigs of rosemary. After I’d melted the siding off the house from a grease-fire fueled grill, we think we’ll give that a rest and caramelize the nectarine halves in a skillet on the stove. The store is out of tangerines.

Adding tonic (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I forget that sugar burns. I forget that a hot grill is different from a hot skillet, and as soon as the nectarine slices hit the skillet and the hot, crisping leaves of rosemary, a waft of thick steam rises, pure and white, and suddenly the room is filled with the fragrance of Christmas and that thick, white smoke, which, after I remember to turn on the fan above the stove, looks just like Santa Claus’ beard getting sucked up into the vent. » Continue reading this post…