Photo by Getty Images for AMC
It’s a Mad Mad Mad Men World! The countdown has begun on the final seven episodes of one of the most acclaimed and stylish television shows of all time, Mad Men. And, in anticipation of the final season, there has been a number of initiatives around New York City to help us immerse ourselves in the sexy, glamorous, and boozy world of Don Draper, and the men and women of Madison Avenue. The Museum of Moving Image is hosting creator Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men Exhibit through June, and there has been an installation of a Don Draper bench as well as a change in street signs (Mad Men Ave/Don Draper Way) right outside the Time & Life Building, the home of fictional advertising firm Sterling Cooper & Partners.
Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for AMC
But, to really get all of our senses prepared for next Sunday’s premiere episode, this past week New York City has been in the throes of Mad Men Dining Week, where many of us ate and drank our way through the 1960s. From last Monday, March 23rd up until yesterday, the 29th, 34 New York City restaurants participated in this lunchtime promotion that featured 60s style menu items and “liquid lunches” for a cool $19.69.
Since I am a HUGE fan of the show and I have always been aesthetically drawn to the 1960s, AND I also happen to work in the Time & Life Building…I’m pretty sure all of these festivities leading up to the finale were designed JUST FOR ME. In case you haven’t been following me on social media, I DID in fact, partake in many a liquid lunch last week. Let’s talk about it!
Last Monday, my introduction to Mad Men Dining Week was at the classic seafood restaurant, Blue Water Grill in Union Square…
…where I parked myself at the bar for a good hour and a half while, Jason, my skilled and attentive bartender, treated me to my very own Joan Holloway experience. Pardon my fuzzy iPhone pics while I take you on this boozy journey…
Staying within the theme of 1960s style cocktails, Blue Water Grill’s “Liquid Lunch” offerings were two tipples inspired by the era: a Whisky Sour type cocktail and a Vesper:
1 oz Gin
1 oz Vodka
1 oz Lillet
Stirred. Strained into a Martini glass. Onion garnish.
2 oz Canadian Whisky
1 oz Blood OJ
1/2 oz fresh lemon
1/2 oz simple syrup
Shake all ingredients and strain over a large cube in a rocks glass. Brandied cherry garnish.
While both cocktails were delicious, I was partial to the Mad Sour. You can’t go wrong with whisky and blood orange juice. And, you could make a meal out of those brandied cherries! After one Vesper and very little lunch, however, you’d be behaving as inappropriately as Roger Sterling in no time!
The next day, I headed to PJ Clarke’s, the historic saloon on East 55th street that can be seen in episode 8 of the first season Mad Men, “Hobo Code.”
The upstairs dining area, Sidecar, was serving a lunch and drink special. I thought it wise, since I had to go back to work, to keep the cocktails to a minimum this time.
By filling my belly with their signature cheeseburger, famously dubbed “The Cadillac of burgers” by Nat King Cole in the late 1950s, I guaranteed my ability to handle my one boozy indulgence…
While their drink specials included an Old Fashioned and a delicious sounding whiskey, rum and brandy cocktail, I knew I had to get a Sidecar…while I was at Sidecar!
I’m so glad I did! Emily, behind the bar, lovingly prepared this drink like she was making it for Peggy Olsen herself!
1 1/2 oz Cognac
1 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz lemon juice
Add the ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake 8 to 10 seconds, until the outside of the shaker is well chilled. Strain into a coupe or cocktail glass.
Garnish with a lemon twist. Sugared rim optional.
While the 21 Club has never actually made an appearance in Mad Men…
…the place is an New York institution, synonymous with classic cocktails, well-heeled patrons and power lunches. It’s no wonder they participated in Mad Men Dining Week! I knew exactly where I wanted to sit – on one of the newly appointed stools at the bar in the back Bar Room.
Apparently, the bar stools were such new additions to the back bar, that I had the honor of being bartender Mark’s first lunch patron! Perched up on one of the best seats in the house, overlooking the entire dining room, I felt even closer to the toys and artifacts dangling from the former speakeasy’s ceiling, that dated back to the 30s, including a toy torpedo boat from John F. Kennedy and a baseball bat from Willie Mays.
I went for the lunch special with a traditional Caesar salad and melt in your mouth braised short ribs over whipped parsnips. And, a Manhattan, of course! Don Draper, eat your heart out!
2 oz Rye Whiskey
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
4-5 dashes bitters
Add ingredients to an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir well, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
For my final Mad Men Dining Week experience, I decided to go all out, and headed to famed French restaurant, Le Cirque.
I’m not kidding around when I say we went all out…
Escargot á la Bourguignonne!
Brisket of Beef with pomme au gratin!
“Ile Flottante – floating island”! (a delicious meringue, cream and berry delight!)
We went for the lunch AND drink special, because…Friday. So, we each started with a Champagne cocktail and then ordered the heavy-duty cocktails second.
Look at that gorgeous Stinger! That cocktail doesn’t look so bad, either! Zing! I ordered a Sidecar for my second drink, but I couldn’t help capturing my lovely lunch date with her perfect Stinger. It’s also a cocktail that has been out of fashion for so long, it was a fun one to be able to try off of the menu. This cocktail, composed of just Cognac and Créme de Menthe, tastes exactly like a grown up after dinner mint. And it was a perfect one to cap off our Mad Men Dining Week.
1 oz Créme de Menthe
Add ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
What a great idea to introduce new clientele to these time-honored restaurants, and such a fun excuse to dress up, explore some classic New York establishments and indulge in some liquid lunches! I don’t know how those ad men and women did it back in the day! But I’m willing to bring back the boozy tradition every now and again!
Remember all the way back to a few days ago, when I posted a tutorial for how to make limoncello? And, that part at the end of the post, where I promised to fill you all in about the most perfect Lemon Drop cocktail made from limoncello?? Well, here it is! Sometimes I really come through for you guys.
I mean, look at this gorgeous drop of sunshine:
Tart! Sweet! Balanced! A citrus explosion on every single one of your taste buds! And, all of this can be yours! You just need a few simple ingredients…
Lemon Drops are typically made with Vodka, lemon juice and sugar. Triple Sec is often added for depth of flavor and a little more sweet. The Limoncello Drop on the other hand, uses limoncello in place of sugar and along with the orange liqueur, Grand Marnier, we’ve got the sweet, citrus part covered.
Add a hefty dose of fresh lemon juice and a sugary rim, so it tastes like a boozy version of those lemon candies you had as a kid…
…and you’ll soon arrive at your new fave springtime, summertime, pretending-it’s-not-still-acting-like-wintertime-in-the-middle-of-March cocktail! Hello pretty!
The Limoncello Drop
1 oz Vodka
1 oz Limoncello
1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
superfine sugar and lemon wedge to rim glass
To sugar the rim of your cocktail glass, take a freshly cut lemon wedge and slice the middle. Slip the wedge over the rim of the glass where you’ve cut the lemon, and sweep around the entire top of the glass until it is well coated. Gently dip the glass upside down into a saucer filled with sugar until just the tip of the glass is coated.
Shake all ingredients over ice until the outside tin is frosted over. Strain into a well chilled, sugar-rimmed cocktail glass. Add a lemon twist.
Today is technically Spring! But, as is often the case, New York and the greater northeast region for that matter, has not quite gotten the memo. I heard some super mean rumor about it snowing this weekend. Harhar, real funny, guys. Psych! I’m not laughing. Good thing I have my very own batch of liquid sunshine to trick me into thinking I’m really on a boat in Capri with Lolita glasses heading to some blue lagoon.
Limoncello is a sweet, lemon liqueur native to Italy, and is made with lemon peels, sugar and high proof grain alcohol. The commercial stuff is often very cloyingly sweet and doesn’t have that fresh zing that you might get from the home made version. Luckily, this is one of the easiest liqueurs to make at home. It just takes a little time…
I am #blessed to have recently participated in the making of this Homemade Sunny Delight, Booze Edition, while also snagging a bottle for myself. All because my dear friend Catharine is slightly obsessed with all things Limoncello. She’s made it a ton, but this time around, I thought I’d hop onto her lemon train and ride out these last couple of months to see the process firsthand from start to finish. And, I was able to document each of the three steps in order to share it with all of you!
This recipe was adapted by Catharine “from her friend Ryan’s Dad’s recipe, which he got from an Italian professor at an academic conference in Naples.” I think I got that right. I know that sounds pretty far removed, but I saw the original recipe and charming note from the Italian professor, and the basic recipe is pretty intact. Catharine just lengthened the time that the alcohol and lemon peel would hang out together. She found, through research, that it seemed a few weeks was average for that stage.
Catharine’s Limoncello Recipe
What you’ll need:
large glass cannister
zest of 10 lemons (rinsed, ideally organic)
750 ml high proof grain alcohol
2.5 cups water + 2 cups sugar = combine and boil to make a syrup. Cool.
Try to peel the lemon skin very thin, without getting the pith – the white part closer to the fruit, to prevent bitterness.
After all the lemons are peeled, add the alcohol.
Label and then put in a dark, cool spot for two weeks.
Make sure to label it with the date you want to retrieve it as a reminder!
Two weeks later, your alcohol should be fully infused with all of those lemon peels.
Remove the lemon peels from the alcohol and place in a strainer.
Once all of the peels are removed, strain the rest of the lemon zest from the alcohol.
Add the cooled sugar syrup to the infusion.
Store the liqueur at least one month, in a dark spot for all of the flavors to mellow.
After a month…
It’s time to bottle!
Look how beautiful this all turned out!
Limoncello is best served VERY cold. I have most often had it as a digestif – an after dinner treat, but I love to use quality limoncello as a cocktail ingredient. In fact, it wasn’t long after I brought my freshly bottled elixir home with me, that I got cracking on a cocktail. So…stay tuned. Get ready for the most delicious Lemon Drop you’ve ever tasted. This isn’t your college bar’s version!
May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.
Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog Awards last year truly changed the direction of my blog, and life! I’m SO incredibly grateful to have been on this journey this year! Most especially to the people (friends, family, boozy strangers…aka all of my Foxy Friends!) who made that win happen for me, since it was Readers’ Choice! And, I’m so honored to be able to pass the torch for 2015. I’m starting to feel like Miss America here…(wipes mascara from eyes).
But, what I wanted to tell all of you is that the nominations close THIS FRIDAY! So, please take a moment to nominate your favorite blogs out there so you can be a part of helping someone realize their delicious dreams! There are so many beautiful ones and a million categories here so you can nominate them all, if you want!!! I guarantee you will make someone’s year, just with a few clicks!
Nominations close on March 13
Come back to vote for the winners, March 30 to April 8
Find out more in the FAQ »
Oh, hello gorgeous. I didn’t see you there. Don’t mind me. I’m just hanging out here in these lonely woods, surrounded by candlelight, and smelling like a GD gingerbread man. Would you like a…taste?
♪ ♫ Bow chicka wow wowwww. ♪ ♫
We’re taking cocktail porn to a whole new level with this little number. The spiciness is off the charts, people!
Perhaps the incessant, bone chilling cold that has had a grip on New York City for the last three months is finally getting to me. Do I have a little case of cabin fever? Likely. Do I have a house full of booze to keep me company? Affirmative. Am I creating 70s Cocktailsploitation films in my kitchen to keep me entertained? Maaayhaps. I do have a sheepskin rug and a penchant for low lighting. It’s been a long ass winter, you guys! What’s a girl to do?
In any case, this little ménage á quatre below made some magic happen a few nights ago when thrown together…
Ok, the ingredient list was a little more than quatre. There was a touch of maple syrup and an entire egg to tame those flavor beasts – BACARDÍ Black, the richest, darkest and fullest bodied rum from the worlds biggest rum branch, Ancho Reyes, a kick-y ancho chile liqueur, a savory Aged Citrus Bitters from Five by Five Tonics Co., and an intense chai tea concentrate from Dona Chai. Boom! The rich, creaminess of one whole egg was a necessary component to this dark flavor bomb in order to round out the edges. And, in the end, it really did taste like a voluptuous cup full of boozy gingerbread.
I’d been wanting to play with all of these ingredients, but the Dona Chai tea concentrate had been on the top of my list for a while now. Hand crafted in Brooklyn in small batches, with an emphasis on sustainability, everything in this bottle screams cozy, winter, fireside yumminess – cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, cloves, black peppercorns, ginger, and black tea. In fact, it was so perfect in this cocktail, I’m curious to see if I can experiment with some lighter, warm weather concoctions to go in a completely different direction. That is, once it finally thaws…in a million years.
Five by Five Bitters is also made in small batches by hand in Chico, California, using organic or wild crafted botanicals. I got my hands on a few bottles of these recently and found the very versatile Aged Citrus Bitters a lovely addition to this cocktail.
You may have noticed that BACARDÍ bottle may look a little different from what you’re used to…
That’s because BACARDÍ has recently launched their first packaging update in more than a decade. These beautiful Art Deco inspired bottles are taller, slimmer, and more bartender friendly. The design also reflects their Cuban heritage, with a look to the past. Personally, I love the new retro bat logo!
(For more info, or concerns about using eggs in cocktails, the necessary ‘dry shake’ & what a flip cocktail technically IS, read my previous post, Using Eggs in Cocktails.)
The Foxy Chai Flip
2 oz Bacardi Black Rum
1 oz Ancho Reyes Liqueur
3/4 oz Maple Syrup
1/4 oz Dona Chai Tea Concentrate
2-3 Dashes Five by Five Tonics Bitters
Dry shake all ingredients for 15-20 seconds. Add ice and shake for another 15-20 seconds. Strain slowly into a well chilled large coupe glass. Dash of bitters on top.
In honor of Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I created a make-out of a cocktail called The Long Kiss Goodnight for Design*Sponge’s Behind the Bar column. It’s actually a riff off of our New Year’s Eve tipple, the Auld Lang Syne. Instead of scotch, we used bourbon and the lemon juice was swapped for blood orange juice. We kept the bubbly, Grand Marnier and those float-y pomegranate seeds, but this drink just got a WHOLE lot sexier. Check out the full recipe here and see why I love this cocktail so much.
It’s no secret that this country is in the throes of a small batch, hand crafted spirits Renaissance. It seems like every week a new, independent distillery pops up in some remote part of the country. We’ve gone from about 70 to 700 distilleries in the United States in a little under 10 years. And nowhere is that feverish growth felt more profoundly than in Brooklyn, New York.
Thanks to a change in legislature in 2002 that hadn’t been updated since prohibition, there has been an emerging and unprecedented collection of boutique distillers catering to drinkers who have a taste for the regional and the unique. The recently published book Brooklyn Spirits: Craft Distilling and Cocktails from the World’s Hippest Borough not only documents the actual hard-working entrepreneurs behind the distilleries who are at the forefront of this movement (many familiar to those regular Bit by a Fox blog readers!), but it also showcases the bars that champion these small producers, and with cocktail recipes to boot!
One of these bars supporting the local booze scene, featured in the book is the beyond charming The Long Island Bar, restored and re-opened in 2013.
photo by Max Kelly
This is also the locale where I recently had the chance to meet up with the authors of Brooklyn Spirits, Chris Wertz and Peter Thomas Fornatale, for a few drinks featuring some of that local booze.
We were lucky enough to have the co-owner of The Long Island Bar, and one of the star bartenders of the book, Toby Cecchini, personally attend to our thirst that night.
It was also the first time Toby (the creator of the notorious Cosmopolitan cocktail, by the way!) saw his section of the book in print. A special night to be sure!
Chris and Pete have lovingly compiled a Who’s Who among the Brooklyn drinks scene, from distiller to glass in Brooklyn Spirits. And Max Kelly’s stunning photography captures the vibe of the borough so perfectly.
This book has been a hot item since it hit newsstands in October, and you can get it here.
OR, if you’re in New York, you can attend a Tiki Night that they are co-hosting tomorrow night, Friday the 13th, 7-10 pm at Brooklyn’s boozy bakery slash bar, Spirited, and pick up a copy AND get it signed by the authors themselves. Bit By a Fox faves Owney’s NYC Rum and Sorel Liqueur will be heavily featured on the Tiki cocktail menu and pu pu platters will abound! Get tickets here!
Hold on to your winter hats, folks, have I got a heavenly treat for you!
About a month ago, during the first blizzard-y squall that took hold of New York City….or was it the second? To be honest, it’s all blending together in a dirty, slushy mess in my head, not unlike the frozen sludge covering the mean streets of the city itself. What month is it?! Sob. Can you tell I’m OVER WINTER?! #OverIt #MakeItStop #IsItAprilYet #WheresMyMommy…Hashtag – I’m a big fat sissy baby. In ANY case, back to last month…I was home sick, it was snowing heavily outside, the temps barely stretched into the double digits, and I was feeling SUPER sorry for myself. Then, something miraculous happened. The booze fairies had THIS amazingness delivered to my door! I was so delighted, I even threw on a fancy kimono to answer the door! Things were looking up!
I pretty much immediately ripped into the L.A. Burdick Milk Drinking Chocolate and made a hot cup of zOMG! That cheered me up stat. Then, I added a 1/2 oz of Patrón XO Café Dark Cocoa and, that’s when the booze angels started singing. It’s that good. The tequila based liqueur is part of the Patrón XO line. It uses Patrón Silver as its base and sources both the coffee and dark chocolate from Mexico in order to produce a wicked good liqueur.
When I hosted an impromptu group of friends in my Brooklyn neighborhood post Juno blizzard tease last week, I decided to recreate this tequila, chocolate, coffee ambrosia. Everyone was anxious to leave their apartments after being cooped up for a few days and I was initially going to have people over for afternoon Bloody Marys. But then I remembered my last winter storm cup of cheer, and I had to share!
I used almond milk for the hot chocolate because that’s about all I had in my apartment that first storm. But I stuck with that the second time around because it was so yummy! And my guests loved it as well. I also highly recommend the sublime L.A. Burdick Milk Drinking Chocolate. It’s seriously a bag full of pure chocolate shavings. Insane.The important thing here is to make it to your liking and then sit back and discover how much better it gets once you buzz that baby up! You’ll only need about 1/2-1 oz of Patrón XO Café Dark Cocoa per serving.
What made it even more of a hit were the maple marshmallows that my friend Lee brought over. He’s not only a brilliant writer who has been featured here once before, but is also a seasoned maple syrup slinger with Deep Mountain Maple at Union Square’s Greenmarket. You can usually count on him for some type of maple-y treats. Lee and Deep Mountain Maple was kind enough to share the recipe with us!
Mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar and a 1/2 cup of corn starch together to make 1 cup of powdered mixture
Spray the sides and bottom of 9×13 pan with non-stick spray, or grease lightly with vegetable oil. Dust the pan with some of the powdered sugar mixture.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, sprinkle 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water and let stand.
In a large, heavy saucepan, cook 3 cups maple syrup (preferably Grade A Amber Rich) until it registers 240-241 on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove from heat.
Pour the VERY HOT syrup over the gelatin and mix at low….then gradually higher speed until high.
While mixing, add 1/4 teaspoon salt
Beat the marshmallow for about 10 minutes — until the bowl becomes lukewarm and the mixture has about tripled in volume.
Quickly pour the marshmallow into the powdered pan and spread to fill. Be diligent! It’s very sticky and will start to set up. Use some spray or vegetable oil on the spatula if you are having trouble.
Dust the top generously with more powdered sugar mixture.
Let sit at room temp for about 6 hours, or overnight.
Turn the marshmallow out on to a cutting board. Using a bench scraper, or long knife, cut the marshmallow into long strips, then cut the strips into cubes. As you cut, roll the marshmallows in the powdered mixture to coat all the sides. You can put a bunch of them in a big mesh strainer and shake them over the sink a few times — to get as much powder off of them as possible.
Keep airtight for up to 1 week, or airtight in the freezer for up to one month.
Man, kids nowadays have it pretty good. I don’t know what school fundraisers looked like when you were in grade school but, when I was a kid, our fundraisers would usually consist of pretty weak bake sales, “talent” shows with questionable performances involving Casio keyboard solos and way too much spandex. And, if we were lucky, a raffle for a rib eye steak dinner at The Eagles Club downtown. Who knows how much money was raised during those olden days school fundraisers or if that money even translated into learning materials or fancy, new tetherballs (which is all I really cared about anyway), but I’m telling you! School fundraisers have turned a freaking corner! That is, at least, if you live in the land of sunshine and palm trees and…insanely talented parents (with insanely talented friends): Los Angeles, California. Because, then you can recruit those insanely talented people to perform at your school’s Comedy Night and put them to WERK. Look at this bonkers lineup:
This is a public school fundraiser, you guys! I bet they’ll make more money than two dozen batches of peanut butter rice crispy treats. Although, every bit as delightful, I’m sure! And, fingers crossed there is a little spandex and a Casio keyboard solo or two in one of these sets.
IF you happen to live in the Los Angeles area, and enjoy laughing A TON, and like the idea of wicked smart human kids around instead of a bunch of dum dums, and care about the future of our world, in general, you may want to consider attending this evening of LOLz this Saturday to benefit Ivanhoe Elementary. Another incentive? The Dragon Fire cocktail!
Booze! For the children!
I’m not saying that it’s your DUTY to humanity to support the education of our youth, or anything, buuuut if you miss out on this laugh riot, you also miss out on this kicky delight. Tito’s Handmade Vodka, from Austin, Texas, has generously donated to this event, and I have created a few signature dragon themed (Ivanhoe’s mascot!) cocktails. The Dragon Fire is my favorite! The Red Zinger Tea syrup and grapefruit juice ups the zing-factor and the Tabasco lends the fire. This can be served with or without ice.
2 oz Tito’s Handmade Vodka
2 oz Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
1 oz Red Zinger Tea Syrup*
1/2 oz Lime Juice
Place all the ingredients, except the seltzer in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass (without ice) or an ice-filled highball glass. Top with a splash of seltzer. Add a grapefruit peel to the cocktail glass or a lime wedge to the highball.
* Red Zinger Tea Syrup
1 cup water
5 Red Zinger Tea bags
1 cup sugar
Heat water in a saucepan until boiling and remove from heat. Place tea bags in hot water and let steep for about 5 minutes. Remove tea bags. Add in sugar, and stir over heat until completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Can keep for up to two weeks.
I am told that Comedy Night Too!, benefiting the amazing public school, Ivanhoe Elementary, still has a few tickets left for this Saturday. It’s hosted by The Sklar Brothers and features Jeff Garlin, Nick Kroll, TJ Miller, Kumail Nanjani, Al Madrigal, Rob Corddry and Cameron Esposito. And the Dragon Fire cocktail! That’s a HOT ticket! Get them HERE!